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Long Island competitors reflect on Ironman World Championship
KAILUA-KONA, HI -- On Saturday, Marc Blumencranz of Manhasset, Adam Quinn of Port Jefferson Station and Bob Spina Jr. of North Massapequa were able to accomplish a feat that very few are even able to qualify for, let alone finish. The trio competed in -- and completed -- the 35th Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
For many, the mere thought of competing in a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run -- in succession -- could be a mental punishment. But for these three Long Islanders there was no better feeling than being crowned the title of an Ironman.
For Blumencranz, 50, and Quinn, 24, this was their first time competing in the world championship and, ironically, Quinn didn’t even start racing triathlons until this year. This was Spina’s fifth trip to the competition.
The three competed in a field of 2,134 worldwide competitors, representing 52 countries and 50 states. Blumencranz completed the course in 13:19:56, 1722 overall and 141/175 in the male 50-54 age group; Quinn finished in 10:31:58, 951 overall and 31/48 in the male 18-24 age group; Spina finished in 10:56:57, 1175 overall and 88/175 in the male 50-54 age group.
“At 75 miles the bike became the most frustrating experience in Ironman,” said Blumencranz, who suffered a potentially career-ending leg injury while running the Boston Marathon in April 2008. “What a great overall experience, even if an injury prevented me from reaching my time goal.”
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Blumencranz dedicated his Kailua-Kona finish to a teammate’s son who is hospitalized at Cohen Children’s Hospital.
Known for its wicked currents, strong winds and intense heat, about 80,000 athletes attempt qualify for the Ironman World Championship each year through full or half Ironman-distance races held worldwide, or by lottery.
If attempting to quality through an Ironman race, only the most elite athletes who finish at the top of their age groups earn a spot at Kailua-Kona.
“As it was my first time in Kona, I had only heard the stories of the battles in the mass swim start, the relentless headwinds on the bike and the sweltering midafternoon heat during the marathon,” Quinn said. “All I can say is that the legends of Kona are true, and I now understand why it’s known as the hardest one-day endurance event on the world's toughest course.”
The overall men’s winner was Frederik Van Lierde of Belgium, who finished in 8:12:29. Mirinda Carfrae of Australia won the women’s division in 8:52:14 and set a new course record.
“It might not have been my best race, but I can say I conquered Kona alongside some of the fittest people in the world, and I had an absolute blast doing it,” Quinn said.
“It was a long, tough day, but at the end I am able to call myself an Ironman. And that makes it all worth it.”
Brian T. Dessart is a nationally accredited Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, a New York State Critical Care Emergency Medical Technician and an FDNY firefighter. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter: @briandessart.