Iron-Clad Competition

John Boel. Courtesy photo.

He’s crossed the finish line in all but one of five Ford Ironman Louisville Triathlons. And, if last year’s time – a personal best, 11 hours and 50 minutes – is any indication, he’s only getting faster with age.

On Sunday morning, Aug. 26, John Boel, WAVE 3’s Sunrise Breaking News Reporter, will once again test his endurance and mental stamina in the world-class Ford Ironman Louisville Triathlon. First competing in the ‘04 Ironman Wisconsin, Boel tried his hand at the Louisville competition when it first came in town in 2007. Muscling through a grueling 2.4 mile-swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run through areas of Downtown Louisville, he hopes to meet the finish line for the fifth time at Fourth Street Live, where he’ll gather with those closest to him and indulge in a jug of chocolate milk, Boel’s celebratory post-race tradition.

“I love the start and the finish,” Boel said of the race. “I love the feeling you get when you’re standing at the start line with all these people and you realize all these people have trained for a year, we’re all in the best shape of our life, and you realize how lucky you are to be able to do this.”

Though he’s managed to crush the competition in years past, Boel admitted training’s tougher, now, with a 2:30 a.m. wake-up call to report the morning news. And, despite competing in a total of six Ironmans, there’s one hump he can’t seem to avoid during the race. “I just can’t figure out a nutrition strategy that keeps me from vomiting at the end,” Boel said. “There’s the same place every year that I puke. … I call that my special spot because for some bizarre reason that’s where I end up puking.”

Rhonda Curry. Courtesy photo.

While Boel’s focus is on the race Sunday, and finally overcoming that lingering hurdle, he’s also hard at work providing TV coverage of the event. In meeting unique triathletes through the competition, he’s chosen a select few to profile, including Rhonda Curry, a second-time Ironman entree who’ll race on Sunday despite a broken clavicle.

“Last year I did 13 hours and 41 minutes, and my goal last year is pretty much the goal I have this year, which is I want to finish, and I want to finish happy and healthy,” said Curry.

To compensate for a healing collarbone, Curry utilized a “trike,” a three-wheel bike, to keep pressure off her right shoulder. For about two months, Curry rode the piece of equipment to ready herself for the race. Now, back on the bicycle, her normal training schedule includes a morning hour-and-a-half swim around 5:30 a.m., then a two- to three-hour bike or one- to two-hour run after work. Nutrition is also key for endurance, she said.

Linden Ferguson. Courtesy photo.

“You burn like (10,000) to 15,000 calories. If you don’t take in enough water and sodium and potassium, then your body can’t function,” Curry warned.

With one Ironman under her belt, Curry has been a help to newcomer triathletes, such as Linden Ferguson, who’ll get his first taste of the competition on Aug. 26. “Earlier this year I decided, I’ve always wanted to do Ironman, I’m going to finally just go for the gusto and sign up,” Ferguson said. “And so I did. And then that opened up a whole new world of training, of meeting new people, making new friends, learning to swim all over again, hiring a coach to teach me and learning to love to run.”

Ferguson competed in his first sprint triathlon in March and placed third in his age group in his second attempt. Training since last December, he’s eager to jump out the starting gates, along with nearly 3,000 new and old Ironmen, representing 49 states and 25 countries, all out to prove their hard work and dedication paid off.

“I’m excited, I haven’t been nervous,” Ferguson said. “I feel like a Thoroughbred right now, ready to go out of the gates, because I’ve done all the training, I’ve put thousands of miles on my bike, lots of miles in the pool and the water and running, so I’ve trained myself to be ready for it, and my body wants to go.”

For more information on the Ironman Louisville, visit

Upcoming Louisville Walks/Runs

Sunday, Sept. 16
Downtown Doubler
15K Run

Sunday, Sept. 23
Let’s Move Day
5K Run/Walk and Health & Fitness Fair
Long Run Park

Saturday, Sept. 29
Tap ‘N’ Run – Louisville
4K Beer Run
Baxter Avenue

Saturday, Oct. 6
Stair Climb at Papa John’s
Cardinal Stadium
Highlands Cup
5K Run/Walk
Douglass Boulevard
Christian Church

Saturday, Oct. 13
Immaculata’s Angel Safari
5K Run/Walk At The Zoo

Saturday, Oct. 13
Komen Louisville Race for the Cure
10K run, 5K run, 5K walk, 1M walk
Iroquois Park

Sunday, Oct. 14
Louisville Marathon and Half Marathon
26.2M run, 13.1M run

Saturday, Nov. 3
Louisville Sports Commission Half Marathon
Start at KFC Yum! Center