Couch to Kona: How one mile at a time led to a dream of Kona
An Ironman triathlon is no small feat. Athletes must endure a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and finish the race with a 26.2-mile run. The best of the best flood the town of Kona, Hawaii, each October to participate in the Ironman World Championships. One man never thought he would be there. At one point in his life, he did not even think sports were possible for him. Stuck in a rut of preconceived notions and doubts, Erich Manser needed to find freedom. Little did he know, that need for freedom would take him all over the country.
Erich Manser is one of only five para-triathletes set to take on the Ironman World Championships in October this year after being selected via the Physically Challenged Athlete lottery. Currently, this is the only way for athletes with physical disabilities, with the exception of hand cyclists who have a qualifying circuit of races, to qualify for the World Championships in Kona.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The United States Olympic Committee today announced USA Triathlon’s Paratriathlon Military Engagement Program as the recipient of its annual Diversity & Inclusion Choice Award.
Now in its fifth year, the D&I Choice Award recognizes an NGB or High Performance Management Organization (HPMO) for the creation of a single diversity and inclusion best practice or a series of diversity and inclusion best practices. After an internal USOC selection committee narrows down the submissions, finalists are put to a vote of representatives from NGBs and HPMOs across the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movement.
USA Triathlon’s program received the highest number of votes, and the organization will be honored at a celebratory dinner on Friday, Sept. 21, as part of the 2018 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
*What kind of bike do you ride? Trek Speed Concept, black with red letters
*Where did you qualify for the Ironman World Championships? Lake placid IM where I won the 45-49 age group
*How many Ironman races have you done? 5 full and 7 half’s (70.3)
*How many times have you raced Kona? Once before last year
*What is your favorite non-race activity on the Big Island – if you have not been – what non-race activity are you most excited about? SUP around the coast and drinking Kona coffee
*What is your favorite bike training route? A modified Lariat loop: Morrison-Kittredge-Evergreen to Golden
*What is your favorite post workout/post race treat? Vanilla milkshake
*What was one unexpected occurrence on your path to Kona? I was able to enter the Loveland Lake to Lake triathlon sprint relay with my two sons, my 11 yr old on the swim and 8 yr old on the run with dad to hang out in transition. My boys were the youngest two racing that day. As this was their first timed triathlon event, I offered to accompany them during the race. My 11 yr refused, saying he didn’t want me to slow him down in the water and wanted me to save my legs to “go super hard” on the bike. My 8 yr old wanted to run the last mile alone to finish the race like his older brother did the swim. Surprisingly, we won the sprint relay and came in 13th overall with a time that would have won my age group. This was by far my favorite race of the season and triathlon experience for that matter and I was tremendously proud of my boys and grateful for my wife’s support that day. Also, it was great to meet Rich that day and appreciate his coverage of the event and interview – my boys felt on top of the world!
*Who do you think will win the pro men’s and women’s races this year? (Remember…we have several Colorado pros on our Team!) I’m routing for Tim Don and Miranda Carfrae, both truly inspiring athletes in different ways
JOHN VAN SOEST
*What kind of bike do you ride? Bike – older (~2009) black, silver and white Cervelo P3 on Zipp 808
*Where did you qualify for the Ironman World Championships? I’m racing via a legacy slot
*How many Ironman races have you done? Kona will be number 15
*How many times have you raced Kona? This will be my first time racing in Kona. I’ve been twice to spectate
*What is your favorite non-race activity on the Big Island – if you have not been – what non-race activity are you most excited about? My favorite activity is tough, maybe swimming with dolphins
*What is your favorite post workout/post race treat? pizza or a shake
*What was one unexpected occurrence on your path to Kona? – I’d have to say it isn’t triathlon specific. I lost my mother in January and father in April which has just created a lot of load on top of training and racing in Ironman Maastricht, which I did in August, and prepping for this.
*Who do you think will win the pro men’s and women’s races this year? (Remember…we have several Colorado pros on our Team!) I’d love to see Mirinda and Tim win together! I think Patrick Lange and Daniela are tough to overlook.