Almost 2,900 individuals traveled across the country and abroad to Madison Sunday to compete in the annual Ironman triathlon, which involves swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running a full marathon.
Athletes participating Sunday, each motivated by something different, dove into Lake Monona at 7 a.m., marking the beginning of what for some is the ultimate test of human endurance.
Among the triathletes was University of Wisconsin-Madison alumna Kristin Korevek, who earned her ninth Ironman medal.
Korevek got her start as an Ironman regular in 2003, just after graduating with a degree in marketing and management.
During her time as a student, Korevek was a member of the triathlon team and said one of the reasons she continues competing is because many of her former teammates competed as well.
Korevek finished the race in 11 hours and three minutes and said she plans to take next year off, but hopes to compete again sometime in the future.
“I just love it. I love the challenge, and I love the training,” Korevek said.
Also competing Saturday was second-time Ironman athlete Tom Alter, a 19-year-old University of Colorado-Boulder student, who said racing in Madison was “easier” than racing in Nevada three years ago in part because the temperature is cooler.
Alter finished in 10 hours and 25 minutes and said he participates in the world’s toughest triathlon because it’s “something to keep [him] out of trouble.”
Competing alongside Alter was Travis Zipfel, a Toledo, OH native who said he chose the Madison venue specifically because it coincided with his 25th birthday.
“How else would I rather spend my 25th birthday?” Zipfel said. “I always do something crazy on my birthday.”
Zipfel, standing at the end in a decorative party hat, said he far exceeded his goal time of 11 hours and 35 minutes when he crossed the finish line after only 10 hours and 57 minutes.
“I did everything how I wanted, and I’m unbelievably happy with how I finished,” Zipfel said.
The first-time Ironman athlete said he was planning on hitting the town Saturday night for a few beers and some good food to round off his birthday night.
Of the nearly 3,000 diverse participants, two claimed winning titles.
Maik Twelsiek, who was born in Germany but now lives in Arizona placed first in the men’s competition with a time of eight hours and 40 minutes. Similarly, hometown hero Jackie Arendt from Verona finished first in the female race with a time of nine hours and 47 minutes.