Ironman brings 2,500 athletes to Madison

The 14th Ironman brought roughly 2,500 amateurs to compete in the 140.6-mile race.

“I think what’s great for Madison is that it’s a great opportunity to showcase our natural resources,” said Judy Frankel, director of public relations and communications for the Madison Area Sports Commission. “We’re really into it. Just like a performer thrives on an audience, I think athletes thrive on the support they get from the fans.”

Planning a race of this magnitude is a year-long process, Race Director Ryan Richards said.

“We try to keep the base the same, and make changes here and there when necessary,” he said.

Racing through a downtown environment in Madison makes Ironman Wisconsin unique, according to Richards.

“Running through Camp Randall, running through the UW campus, on State Street, is pretty cool,” Richards said. “The support the athletes get from the community is great.”

Roughly 95 percent finished the race, Richards noted.

An Ironman race consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run. The top 50 finishers, weighted by age group, qualified for the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, scheduled for Oct. 8 of next year.

Edward Schmitt, 30, of Lake Mills, Wis. placed first among amateurs in the triathlon with a time of 9:26:57 after the only two professional contestants finished before him. Schmitt, who serves in the Wisconsin Army National Guard and has been on tour in Iraq twice, finished the biking portion of the race in seventh place before kicking into an extra gear.

“I knew that the guy that was running behind me was losing time so I was just trying to not cramp up, keep steady, not run out of my shoes,” Schmitt said. “About mile 24, when he kept falling off… I know the guy that was in second is a real strong runner, but he wasn’t coming back. I was pretty sure I had it.”

This was Schmitt’s fourth Ironman event, and the second time he competed in Madison. He started competing in triathlons when he returned from his second tour in Iraq in 2010.

“This is the absolute highlight of my triathlon career,” Schmitt said. “The goal was to come here and be fit enough to win. Just executed well enough.”

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