In 1982, college student Julie Moss gained worldwide fame at the Ironman World Championship Triathlon. The world watched as the young woman collapsed 100 yards from the finish line before completing the course on hands and knees. Those who witnessed her painful denouement on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” wouldn’t soon forget it. Many, Lake Highlands attorney Clay Scheitzach included, would become fascinated with the sport.

Fast forward 28 years. Scheitzach is preparing to toe the line at the 2010 Ironman in Kona, Hawaii. He was one of 200 athletes selected to participate alongside championship qualifiers in the event via a lottery — and he’s the only participant from the Dallas area. Why does he desperately want to do something that looked so painful? “A lot of people looked at [Moss] and thought about the torture she was enduring. I saw a woman giving everything she had. That is something we all can aspire to.” Scheitzach didn’t start running until he was in law school, and never rode a bike until he was 30 years old. “I literally had friends running next to me teaching me to ride. It was hilarious,” he says.

Now, Scheitzach has 12 marathons under his belt, which is a fraction of what he hopes to do. “I hope to keep moving forward and run one in all 50 states,” he says. Somehow, in between his life as a lawyer, husband and father, Scheitzach trains daily and about 15-20 hours a week for the Oct. 9 Ironman, which includes a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.

Luckily for him, he has a lot of support in the form of family — wife Cindy, mother of their 2-year-old daughter, is happy that it will all end in a trip to Hawaii — and training partners with Tri4Him, a Christian triathlon team. With the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers, he also heads up the annual Freedom Run, which is held each September at Dallas City Hall Plaza.