The next time you see a group of serious-looking athletes at White Rock Lake, you might have run into the 250-strong Ironman triathletes who band together in smaller groups four or five times a week to train. They are training for the 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and 26.2 mile-marathon that set the Ironman competition apart.
The training club is called Fit2Train, and it’s just one of the elements holding these Ironman competitors together – that, and the friendship and camaraderie.
Cari Ossenfort, one of the group’s regulars who has completed two Ironman competitions and is registered to compete in another one this year, says she couldn’t do it without her fellow athlete’s help.
“This group motivates me to train like I do,” she says. “We also get together when we are not training, going out to dinner or just gathering at each other’s homes. They have become my closest friends, and when a friend is expecting you to meet them to run at 5:30 a.m., you do not want to let them down.”
Fit2Train originally started with 20 members when neighborhood resident Brian Hasenbauer (who has completed eight Ironman competitions) was training people in the area, and finally decided to form the group and make a business out of it. As a bonus, he met his wife, Adrian, when she called him in an effort to improve her traithlon skills. The pair, obviously committed to both their sport and each other, planned both their wedding and honeymoon around Ironman competitions.
“He knew he was going to go to Hawaii to do the world championship – the Hawaii Ironman – so we spent two weeks there,” Adrian Hasenbauer says. “The first week was the Ironman, and the second week we stayed for our honeymoon.”
Because the Fit2Train group has grown so much since Brian started it, it now has several additional coaches. Members train five days a week, mostly at the lake.
Group member Catherine Paulson has completed her share of Ironmans and has run in more than 40 triathlons throughout her life.
“Having so many triathletes in the Lake Highlands area – often referred to as Tri-Highlands – makes it easier to get your training in and also feel safe while doing it,” she says.
“It takes a huge support group of training partners, coaches, friends and family to continue to be able to train and race and enjoy it.” Paulson says. “Every time I’m about to start a race, especially an Ironman, it gives me great pause, and I realize how lucky and grateful I am to be able to compete in the sport of traithlon.”
Ossenfort agrees: “These are bonds that will last a lifetime.”