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6 Steamboat residents taking on grueling Boulder Ironman on Sunday

Ben Ingersoll
Steamboat's Andrea Wilhelm won the 2014 Steamboat Marathon women's division in May, part of her training for Sunday's Boulder Ironman. She will be joined by five others from town: Maria Parekh, Eddie Rodgers, Matt Stensland, Mike Schlichtman and Jim McCreight.
Courtesy Photo

Boulder Ironman: Steamboat athletes

Athlete, gender, age

■ Maria Parekh, F, 52

■ Andrea Wilhelm, F, 34

■ Eddie Rogers, M, 30

■ Jim McCreight, M, 46

■ Mike Schlichtman, M, 51

■ Matt Stensland, M, 32

— Andrea Wilhlem has to fight off a laugh when talking about her training regimen for Sunday’s Boulder Ironman.

Boulder Ironman: Steamboat athletes

Athlete, gender, age

■ Maria Parekh, F, 52

■ Andrea Wilhelm, F, 34

■ Eddie Rogers, M, 30

■ Jim McCreight, M, 46

■ Mike Schlichtman, M, 51

■ Matt Stensland, M, 32

It could be because Wilhelm is as modest as they come, being the 2014 Steamboat Marathon women’s winner.

Or that the 140.6-mile Ironman triathlon at mile-high elevation in Boulder is almost humorous in all its glamour and grit.

This year, six Steamboat Springs residents are taking on one of the most popular Ironman courses there is. Wilhelm, Maria Parekh, Jim McCreight, Eddie Rogers and Mike Schlichtman all will represent Heather Gollnick’s IronEdge Triathlon Team on course Sunday. Steamboat Pilot & Today reporter Matt Stensland also is competing in his first full Ironman.

Wilhelm is as well versed in full-distance Ironmans as any of Steamboat’s representatives, having braved the gauntlet in two — one successfully in Florida, and one unsuccessfully in Hawaii, bowing out with salt deficiencies in what was admittedly an unprepared event.

But far more than trying to compete for a podium spot in her age group Sunday or snag a personal record on the 140.6-mile course, Wilhelm is quenching a thirst to get back on the racing circuit after spending last summer completely out of competition while pregnant.

It’s been a slow process for her, she explains, but she shrugs off expectations, even the very minimal ones she has set for herself.

“I really started my training in May,” Wilhelm laughed. “I ran the marathon that first month, then biked in June and July. It was just nice to meet with the team and Heather (Gollnick). That was really helpful.”

Like Wilhelm, McCreight has felt the sting from full Ironmans, which first throws racers into the water for a 2.4-mile swim, then onto the bike for 112 miles, then onto the running course for a full marathon, 26.2 grueling miles to the finish.

The race begins at the Boulder Reservoir with a single-loop swim. The racers then transition to the bike course through the city, around Carter Lake and along the Front Range eastern plains, ending at Boulder High School.

The marathon running course is two loops along Boulder Creek Trail with a Pearl Street finish.

On Sunday, McCreight is swimming, biking and running in his fifth Ironman, which have taken him to Utah, Florida and Arizona in the past.

But Boulder is a different animal, McCreight explains, with a mixture of unforeseen elevation for many Ironman participants with underestimated Front Range heat.

“This will probably be one of the more challenging Ironmans because the elevation and the heat,” McCreight said. “For training, I’ve been doing a lot of my workouts in the middle of the day and commonly on the west end of Highway 40 at like 1 or 2 in the afternoon.”

But no matter the training or nutrition racers like the Steamboat six put in — or no matter how long the training lasts — race day comes with a variable of uncertainty. You just don’t know what the course will throw at you until the gun sounds, McCreight said.

“There will be people Sunday in the medical tent,” McCreight said. “People often don’t realize what they’re getting into.”

It’s grueling, yes. But the rewards, even mid-race, are as grand as they come in competitive racing. McCreight loves the camaraderie with the other athletes, especially the ones on his team. He also gets emotional thinking about his two children — decked in Ironman gear — waiting for him at the finish line.

Wilhelm, likewise, is “just looking forward to the finish,” she said, where her husband will be waiting.

“What I really get out of it is the camaraderie, the energy you feel from the different athletes,” McCreight said. “The ones doing it for the first time, to be at the finish line at midnight (the cutoff time). To be there for that last half hour, you can’t help but get emotional. I get emotional just thinking about it.”

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll


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