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News 2010

Gerd Weber Celebrates 60 with 6 Ironmans on 6 Continents

Gerd Weber, a former member of the TNCTC and regular visitor to Nevis in the earliest years of the club, was recently featured on the Ironman website, a great story of a great athlete.

Dawn Henry catches up with a special Ironman competitor

Published Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How does an Ironman triathlete celebrate 60 years of life? By completing six Ironman races on six continents all during his 60th year, of course. This was Canadian Gerd Weber's thinking, anyway. "I was looking for a challenge. I said, 'here's a good target.'" says Weber, the type of athlete who explains his training methods as "unorthodox," who "trains to eat" and "races to travel."

Weber lives in Orillia, Ontario, and he also spends time in Kona, Hawaii, taking part in the triathlon community in both locations. He thrives on the social aspect of the sport, and is always happy to fit swimming, biking and running into his day. No race or training plan is too small or too great to capture Weber's interest. 

Here's a peek into Weber's training method: the day before the interview for this article, he'd met up with a handful of friends for a typical middle-of-the-week bike ride. It entailed climbing most of the way up the slope of Mauna Loa, an active volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii that registers, from its base on the sea floor to 13,679 feet above sea level, to be the largest mountain on earth. 

Weber and his friends left their coastal homes and drove to a park at 6,500 foot elevation.  They then unloaded their bicycles and followed a pitted-out, part-cinder, one-lane road up to its termination at over 11,000 feet. Weber's already looking forward to a similar climb on neighboring Mauna Kea, even though he says smilingly, "I hate hills!"

Weber came to the sport of triathlon a decade ago, and completed his first Ironman race at Ironman Florida in 2003. In the years that followed, he'd been content to race in an Ironman a year in North America or Europe. That is, until he came up with his six Ironmans, six continents idea.

Was he daunted by the leap from one Ironman a year to six, all at the age of, well, 60? Weber doesn't seem to have dwelled too long on the downsides. "The way I train, I do what I feel like. There's no consistency to my training, so I figured I would just keep going and going. I've always been an endurance athlete. My body's not built for speed, guaranteed."

Weber was already a world traveler for business and for fun, but he'd never been to Africa or Australia. So his idea gave him the opportunity to see parts of the world he'd never visited while at the same time challenging his body and mind. His six picks were chosen based on "location and time of year. The shortest period of time between races was 35 days, between Brazil and Germany, and the longest was three months, between Canada and Western Australia."

When he went into the year, he wanted to race well, but mainly, "I just wanted to enjoy the year and have fun exploring different places." Weber says that although his times did not improve during his year of racing, he did not get injured or experience burn-out, either. "I always felt good after a race. I could go out for a run or a bike ride the next day." He says he never came to a point where he wished he didn't have another Ironman race in front of him. "I just kept going." Along the way, he had the experience of visiting cities from Perth to Frankfurt, of encountering elephants and lions in South Africa, of visiting Malaysia, and of making friends everywhere along the way.

"All of the races had great spectator support," says Weber. In all, he estimates he spent three months living out his "birthday gift" to himself. "The only regret that I have is that I didn't stay longer in each of the locations."

Weber's 2009-2010 Ironman Calendar ran from May 2009 through April 2010. He remembers each of the races with fondness and talks about them as if he were at each of them just yesterday.

Ironman Brasil Florianopolis: "Super-steep hills on the run.  I burnt my quads on that one."

Frankfurter Sparkasse Ironman European Championship: "A great run course and a great finish line."

Subaru Ironman Canada: "Hot and hilly and great ice cream!"

Ironman Western Australia: "Flat, flat, flat. I pedaled non-stop for 112 miles!"

Ironman Malaysia: "Hot, very hot. I had the longest swim of my life! The race organizers did a great job."

Spec-Savers Ironman South Africa: "A tough ocean swim because of the conditions. The course was great."

Weber says the year was challenging, but "I would do it again. It was a real worthwhile endeavor." The best part about the adventure was "all of the different people I met. I met friends at races and we'd cheer each other on." 

Weber hopes to "see a lot of the people I met around the world in Kona, as they come in for the World Championship, or when they visit at different times of the year." 

He says he couldn't have done the year without the support of his wife, Jill. "I want to thank her for all of her support. She supported me even though she thought I was crazy. So did everyone else I know. They probably still do," he says as he lets out a little laugh. Jill traveled with him to four of his six destinations. He also thanks his business partner and his family for lending support. 

And Weber says he's cured the Ironman bug. "No more Ironmans – nah, I've done it. All the races I've done, I've enjoyed. It's the people that you meet that make it special."

This doesn't mean that he's done racing. Still on his 2010 calendar: the XTERRA World Championship on October 24 in Maui, an off-road triathlon extravaganza that will give Weber a chance to display his hill-climbing skills. In 2011, he's got his eye on a sprinkling of 70.3s across the globe. 

And he's got plans for more racing down the road: to celebrate his 70th, he'll complete seven 70.3s; to celebrate 80, he'll complete eight Olympic-distance triathlons; to celebrate 90, he'll complete nine sprint distance races; to celebrate 100, he'll complete ten "try tris," or mini-sprints. At 110? There's that smile again: "I'll quit. I'll just ride my bike."

Originally from: http://ironman.com/profiles/dawn-henry-catches-up-with-a-special-ironman-competitor#ixzz13YROiuFC


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