A cannon fire launched a team of Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA graduates into a grueling test of endurance May 30 as they took on Hawaii's Ironman 70.3.
Eleven members of the Berkeley-Columbia class of 2009 and one member of the class of 2010 participated in the competition, and every one of them finished its 1.2-mile open ocean swim, 56-mile bike ride, and 13.1-mile run.
The accomplishment was the culmination of 22 weeks of serious training. Patrick Dempsey, MBA 09, who organized the team effort with classmate Damon Krytzer, MBA 09, estimates that he logged in more than 2,300 miles of cycling, 400 miles of running, and 80 miles of swimming to prepare for the event. "The neighbors were beginning to look at me strangely when I left the house in Lycra shorts more often than in work pants," laughs Dempsey.
Race highlights included a swim with enough visibility to take in views of the fish and the reefs when not in search of someone to draft and seven miles downhill with a tailwind during the bike ride. The low: a run through "the pit," in which "you run down into a wasteland that seems to get hotter and hotter as you go, only to turn around and run back up out of it," says Dempsey.
The race’s finish, however, was enough to make weary athletes forgive everything. "We sat in the shade of a bunch of palm trees, just above an awesome ocean spot for hours as the whole group finished the race," says Krytzer.
Fanned by an ocean breeze, the team gathered to cheer on each of their finishers, especially Mona Patel, MBA 10. Patel finished just five minutes before the 8.5-hour cut-off, in part by avoiding the temptation to ever walk and running past multiple participants who had given up just minutes before the finish.
"We are doing this again!" says Dempsey. "I fully expect this to become an annual event organized by the graduating Berkeley-Columbia class, each taking on the challenge of getting more finishers to the line than any of the previous years." After all, says Dempsey, "We learned that we could transform ourselves into endurance athletes in five months using the same dedication we brought to the Berkeley-Columbia program."
To view pictures from the Ironman competition, visit picasaweb.google.com/PMDempseyBC/BCEMBAIronMan703.
The Berkeley-Columbia team, top row standing: Coach Chris Hauth and John Davenport, Adam Tachner, Sean Casey, all BCEMBA 09. Middle row: Alex Thatcher, Hoby Darling, Rob Fyfe, John Collins, Damon Krytzer, and Patrick Dempsey, all BCEMBA 09. Bottom Row: Rae Richman and Caroline Lee, both BCEMBA 09, and Mona Patel, BCEMBA 10.