Two weekends ago a number of dedicated athletes from the Platteville area completed perhaps the greatest test of will individual sports has to offer.
On Sunday, Sept. 9 Yvette Marshall, Brett Schambow, Chad Kase, Amy Fletcher, Darwin Cushman and Joe Moyer were among the more than 2,400 competitors that braved the Ironman Wisconsin race in Madison.
The three-leg endurance race consists of a two-and-a-half mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride, capped off with a full 26.2-mile marathon run.
All six suffered through the hours of constant pain for various reasons, but each cross the finish line earning the right to be called a 2012 Ironman.
Marshall, a former marathon runner, overcame a childhood fear of water nearly three years ago to begin competing in triathlons.
“I didn’t learn to swim until the winter of 2010 because a near-drowning experience as a child made me fearful of the water,” explained Marshall, a kindergarten/first grade special education teacher at Neil Wilkins Elementary. “But finishing an Ironman has been a dream of mine for a long time.”
Marshall was first inspired to compete in a triathlon while watching Cody Sweet — the son of her teaching assistant Sharon Sweet compete in a previous Ironman Wisconsin.
“Just watching those athletes, knowing the training they went through on top of work and families really inspired me,” said Marshall.
In June of 2010 Marshall, who lives in Lancaster, competed in her first sprint triathlon — a much shorter version of the Ironman and in July of 2010 and 2011 she completed the Racine half Ironman (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run).
“My goal in the 2010 Racine Ironman was just to finish,” said Marshall. “Swimming in Lake Michigan was a big thing to mentally prepare for — to go out into that big of a lake and swim 1.2 miles was a big obstacle.”
Marshall, the mother of three children under the age of nine and wife of Tim Marshall, began her official training for Ironman Wisconsin on Feb. 13. She swam three times a week at UW–Platteville and in Dubuque and would bike and run four times a week, many times running right after a lengthy bike ride.
“Tim is incredibly supportive,” said Marshall. “We need to be really organized. I created charts to keep track of everything going on with the kids and work then I would plug in my training schedule. It took lots of communication and I tried to incorporate the kids as much as possible.
“My kids know and understand that I am working toward a goal to achieve something that is worthwhile and that is an important thing to learn. They also enjoy swimming and biking so they are able to join my interests and vice versa. It really became a family thing and they were able to feel like a part of the accomplishment too."
Marshall finished the Ironman Wisconsin in 13 hours, 51 minutes and 7 seconds. She has no immediate plan to run another Ironman due to the time commitment and the age of her young children, but will continue to bike, run and swim to keep an active lifestyle and be a role model for her children.
Competing in an Ironman had long been a dream for Brett Schambow. In order to train for this year’s race he enlisted the help of friend Chad Kase.
“We’ve been good friends for as long as I can remember,” said Kase, a 36-year-old web developer/graphic designer from Chicago, Ill.
“He needed a training partner because he didn’t want to do it by himself so I kind of got suckered into it,” joked Case.
“I’ve been thinking about doing the Ironman for a decade or so since first seeing it on t.v.,” said Schambow, a 37-year-old district manager from CWD in Libertyville, Ill. “I thought, ‘these people are nuts, but I’d like to try that.’ I was Chad’s roommate back then and I still remember telling him it was something I wanted to do someday.”
Schambow ran a number of sprint triathlons on and off for the past 10 years, but never achieved his ultimate goal of finishing a full Ironman until two weekends ago.
The longtime friends, both 1994 graduates of Platteville High School, trained six days a week often twice a day to prepare for the race.
The pair also trained for Ironman Wisconsin by running the Race Half Ironman on a miserable 96-degree day in July.
“That was a real eye-opener for us,” said Schambow.
Schambow, a father of two and husband to Kim, finished the Ironman in 13:26:09.
“It was pure euphoria,” said Schambow of crossing the finish line. “You’re so excited that you’re not even tired anymore. You feel higher than a kite. When I was done it was such an incredible feeling, like I had just climbed Mount Everest or something.”
“It wasn’t as hard as I actually thought it was going to be and that’s a credit to our coach and our training getting us prepared for it,” added Kase. “I didn’t push it. I just enjoyed it. I even stopped to say hi to friends and family along the run and bike ride.”
Kase, who is expecting his first child with wife Anjali, finished the race in 12:57:50.
A large number of family and friends were on hand to cheer on both Schambow and Kase.
“Sunday was great,” said Schambow. “It was a pretty epic day. With all the family and friends there it was a huge boost. We had great support.”
“I’m just glad to be done,” added Kase. “It’ not like I had negative feelings, but it was a lot of work. I don’t know for sure, but I’ll probably do another one. They are pretty addicting."
Amy (Doeringsfeld) Fletcher, 44, a OB/GYN physician who now lives in Charlotte, N.C., finished the Ironman Wisconsin in 12 hours, 47 minutes, 40th in her age group. She also finished completed the 2010 Wisconsin race, her first full Ironman.
Since then she has competed in multiple sprint triathlons, America’s Triple T, a triple triathlon in Ohio in 2009 that featured a sprint triathlon on Friday night, an Olympic triathlon on Saturday and a full Ironman on Sunday, and an International triathlon this past summer in Spain.
Fletcher, a 1987 graduate of Platteville High School, was a long-time marathon runner finishing 17 before becoming a triathlete. She was injured and started biking to supplement her running, then began swimming to prepare for triathlons at the urging of a friend.
Fletcher competed in her first sprint triathlon in 2006 and first half Ironman in 2007.
“Every Ironman brings its own challenges and Sunday’s was no different,” said Fletecher. “It’s a great venue and Madison is great city to host this kind of race. I will definitely be back.”
Fletcher is married to Sid Fletcher, a 1986 graduate of Platteville High School. The couple has three children.
Cushman, a 49-year-old father of three, who completed his first Ironman Wisconsin a year ago, finished this year’s race in 13:44:26, a large improvement from last year’s 15:07:31 finish.
Moyer, a 1997 graduate of Platteville High School and former Hillmen track and cross country athlete, finished 109th overall out of more than 2,400 participants with a time of 10:29:59.
Moyer, a 34-year-old auto technician who now lives in Rochester, Minn., also trains fellow tri-athletes. Eight of his students completed their first Ironman by finishing last week’s race.