Category Archives: At the Races

Just say “Yes”: Winter’s World Marathon Tour for prostate cancer

Posted by on Friday, July 19, 2013 @ 9:14 am | Leave a reply

Very few can truly say they grew up in Newtons. In 2007, the year that Newton Running Company launched, my foot was too small for them. I was just 8 years old and already a seasoned runner, competing in 5K’s and 10K’s. My foot swam inside a size 5. I was left to stare in envy at my mom’s pink Newtons.

I remember my mom coming home from the 2007 Ironman World Championships, where she volunteered in the medical tent as a physician. She had a shiny, new pair of pink running shoes. Little did my mom know that when she bought one of the very first pair of Newtons, she would be supporting research of the cancer that would steal her husband and take my dad. A portion of the proceeds from that shoe benefited prostate cancer, a cancer unfortunately all too well known to the co-founder of Newton Running, Jerry Lee.

Jerry and Winter

In 2008, I attended Ironman Lake Placid — my first Ironman! I was just 9 years old, overlooking the Olympic Oval full of bikes. I crossed the finish line with my idol, my mom (when kids were still allowed to cross the line with parents). I was dressed just like her, pink Newtons and all. I knew then, Ironman Lake Placid would be on my bucket list! It was there that I remember meeting a man who slipped that first pink pair of size 5 Newtons on my feet. Newtons have never left my feet since. I now call Jerry Lee and his company “family” and I race for him as well as my dad and the 1 in 6 men affected by prostate cancer around the world.

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The following year, 2009, would redefine my life. I would now have to live without my dad physically by my side. I made a vow with my brothers, that we would chase prostate cancer to the end of the world and stomp it out like it stomped our dad out! It was the birth of Team Winter. I had completed an Olympic Distance Triathlon just months before my dad’s passing. It was the last race he would hug me at the finish line. It was a race many said I couldn’t finish and that I was too young. Little did the critics know, that was just the beginning for me.

Memorial

Now, at age 14, I have four marathons, on four continents, under my race belt. It hasn’t been easy though. The journey to the start line of these marathons is the real story. Running the marathons has become the easy part! “You’re too young,” “You can’t run our marathon, but you can run our 5K,” “Wait until you get older,” “You must be 18 years old,” “NO!” Over and over, these are the responses that I got when I set out to become the youngest person to run a marathon on all seven continents.

It is all part of my dream that I began planning at 10 years of age, a World Marathon Tour for Prostate Cancer Awareness. I wanted to achieve this world record in memory of my dad and the men and their families affected by prostate cancer. I guess it’s a good thing my mom taught me “Never take ‘No’ for an answer,” never accept, “You can’t,” “You won’t”, “You shouldn’t”. If I had let these thoughts enter my mind, my marathon tour probably would not have got very far. I honestly can’t even tell you how many “No’s” my mom and I got from race directors around the world. I lost count, but never lost faith and hope.

Eugene Marathon, in April 2012, would kick off my World Marathon Tour. The Newton trainer has always been my favorite distance running shoe. This shoe would help me run my first marathon at age 13 in 3:45:04, just 5 minutes shy of a Boston Marathon qualifying time. Next stop was Kenya, the Amazing Maasai. It was my first trail marathon and despite a strong field of Kenyans, I placed 3rd overall female. I took over 20 pairs of my old Newton running shoes that I had worn over the years and donated them to the young Kenyan runners, many of whom ran in sandals made from tires. It was incredible to run against the Kenyans who have become some of the fastest runners in the world.

Winter Running

 

Winter in Africa

My next two marathons would challenge even the seasoned runners. After consulting Newton, we decided to bring out the retired Newton all-weather trainer. This proved extremely beneficial as I headed to the “End of the World”. My 3rd marathon would take place on the rugged, frozen tundra of Antarctica. What could possibly top that marathon? Well, the cancellation of my original South America marathon, Galapagos, had me now facing the “toughest marathon in the world”, Peru’s Inca Trail Marathon.

Winter in Antartica

How does anyone even train for such a race on the Inca Trail at nearly 14,000 feet? My run coach, Mark Hadley, was not even fazed by the change in races. He quickly put together a running plan filled with hill runs and more hill runs. Never once did he doubt or question my ability to tackle such an extreme marathon.

As an Olympic hopeful for the 2018 Winter Olympics in aerial skiing, I fortunately live in Park City, Utah, where I’m consistently training and running at 7,000 plus feet of elevation. I did as my run coach said and faithfully put in all the long runs. Not to forget, recovering with ice baths and foam rolling! I threw in a lot of cross training with swimming, mountain biking, aerial ski training and lots of weight training to maintain a really strong core. I had just come back from setting a world record for the youngest person to run 26.2 miles in Antarctica in March. How tough could the Inca Trail be?

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Check back here next week to find out!

 

Join Team Winter or make a Donation!

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Tim Berkel – IRONMAN Cairns Race Report

Posted by on Friday, June 14, 2013 @ 12:52 pm | Leave a reply

Tim Berkel running his way to a 2nd place finish!

Tim Berkel running his way to a 2nd place finish!

About a month ago, I had a rethink of my season, and made some mid-season alterations to my calendar, and my focus for the remainder of 2013. Rather than bore you with the details of the next six months, I’ll try to cover these races as they happen.

Several weeks ago I began my preparation to do an Olympic distance race (i.e. Port Douglas 5150) on one weekend, then back it up the following weekend with the Cairns Ironman 70.3.  The reason I decided to do these races is that it had been such a long time between races and also coming off a chest infection, I just wanted to see where I was at in terms of fitness.  The 5150 was mainly a hit-out event, and I was preparing myself to have a good crack at the Ironman 70.3.

So the 5150 race was great, I felt good and enjoyed it, I got a 6th place there, which was what I expected for the field of athletes, and my ability in short course racing. I spent the week in Port Douglas (about an hour drive north of Cairns, Queensland) training with Clayton “Clayto” Fettel and Joey Lampe. I had recovered so well and was feeling on top of my game.  Clayto was racing the full Ironman, while Joey and I had booked our start for the Ironman 70.3, which was being held simultaneously with the full distance event in Cairns.

Then, in a moment of sheer stupidity, the thought came into my mind to give the Ironman a crack.  With no proper Ironman-build in my training, and only six days from race start, I tossed out the idea to my Team.  Weirdly enough, I got the support of my coach, manager, and wife, which mutually supported the idea, and with less than six days to go, I got the go ahead to do Ironman Cairns. My preparation for this race was not what I usually do, as it was all about the 70.3 distance, so it was to be interesting to see how the body would hold up.

Race morning/wife’s birthday, I was lucky enough to see a nice clear ocean , which I was told was infested with Croc’s (the reptile, not the fluorescent foam shoes) and only a little whisper of breeze. My swim was pretty crappy and I came out further back than I normally do due to missing two weeks of swimming (as I had a chest infection leading into this race).  So after a quick transition I was onto the bike and looking forward to a scenic ride up the coastline and seeing the gorgeous tropical North Queensland …I wish!!!

It was “balls to the wall” to play catch up to just get back onto the main pack of riders I was expecting to come out of the water with.  So I caught New Zealand ‘s Cam Brown, Matty White and Todd Israel around 15km mark.  Knowing that Luke McKenzie, Clayto, and Chris “Macca” McCormack weren’t in that group, I knew I had caught onto the group riding in equal forth.

Another 15km up the road we caught Macca. Feeling quite good, I was driving the group up into Port Douglas.  Macca took a turn up front and I was sitting second with Cam, Matty and Todd still intact.  We approached a bit of a tight spot on the road, and we naturally bunched up, and there was a Technical Official sitting off the back of our group.  He rode up to me and issued me a drafting penalty. It was a silly mistake, where I wasn’t able to drop back quick enough in a technical section of the course.  He might not have had the best angle to see it, but he made the call, and I had to cop it.

It was a little disappointing as I felt I had been off the front of my group for most of the ride and this happens in such a silly spot. So I then decided to surge forward and haul a$$ up the road as I had to get into the penalty box, knowing I didn’t want to lose the ground I made to even catch these boys in the first place.  Plus I knew I still had Luke and Clayto out front, which is a scary combination, as they both are strong cyclist.  In my angered state, I was able to gain around 2 mins by the time I jumped into the penalty box (…with a gorgeous view might I add).

When I saw the boys go past, I might have uttered a few choice words, and I apologize to the Technical Officials which were staffing the Penalty Box.  My emotions may have gotten the best of me in that situation, but I had already worked so hard after a poor swim, to have to claw myself back again.  After my penalty was served, I was out of the box on a mission.  I caught the boys back at around the 130km mark.

On the ride back into T2 us boys were having a little friendly banter when Matty White decides to pull a turn… Coming past me, he says “I’m a #@%ing cheat”.  LOL.  Makes the ride a lot more enjoyable when you have good guys out there, keeping you motivated, and talking a bit of smack.

Back into the transition I was told a few splits and McKenzie was 21:58 up the road.  Geeeeezzzz, I thought to myself – I’ve got a bit of work, and it was going to have to happen quick smart.  So Macca and I ran together for a bit, before he took off.  I let him go, but soon caught back up to him. Macca didn’t seem his usual self, which was understandable due to him being in hospital at the start of the week with a Kidney infection.

We ran together for around 4km and Macca was feeling worse, poor guy. I then dropped Macca and whilst running I saw McKenzie on the way back from the Yorky’s Nob loop, and it was pretty clear to me he had a massive lead. I thought to myself the only way I was going to make time up was to run hard into the head wind.

I overtook Clayto which put me in second place.  I kept getting splits from the awesome spectators lining the course.  It’s a long run into town, then multiple loops along the foreshore, so the end of the race is full of spectators.  I was consistently reducing the 21:58 deficit that Luke built on his Swim/Bike combination.

I ended up crossing the line in second, and was only 4:38 back, taking over 17 minutes of Luke’s lead at T2.  I ran a 2:44:24 marathon which was over 10 minutes faster than the second fastest Marathon of the day.  I guess looking back now the results it could have been a little different if I didn’t get my drafting penalty.  As I could take 4 minutes off my time, and possibly fresher legs at not having to play catch up twice during the bike leg.  But all-in-all, I can’t complain and I have lived and learned from my mistakes …until next race!

Well done to Luke McKenzie on a champion effort. Also, I take my visor off to Macca – legend, and tough as nails!

So for me now the game plan is a few easy days then back into it as I head back to the states for a couple of races in a few weeks.

Thanks again to my wife-Bel, family and supporters, my Manager (Mike), the doggies. Sponsors; Scody, Giant, Newton Running, Daikin Air Conditioners, Endura, Shimano, Oakley, Garmin, Blue Seventy, Altitude Training Systems, Continental Tyres, Hypnotic Zoo, Scicon.

Special mention to my Coach-Grant Giles. Thanks for always believing in me and pushing me to succeed when I thought I possibly couldn’t. He is a great mentor, friend, and supporter and the number one coach. Go Team Aeromax!!!

 

Cheers,

Tim

 

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Race Preview: Ironman Texas

Posted by on Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 10:49 am | Leave a reply

Ironman Texas

by: Alex Weber

I chose to race Ironman Texas, first and foremost, because I wanted my first ironman race to be in my home state of Texas.  I get sentimental with races sometimes and felt like I wanted this accomplishment to be close to home.  The course had a reputation for being flat and spectator friendly, which I was also really excited about!  If you are from Texas, or anywhere in the south, it is especially easy to travel to the race and there are lots of options for hotels and restaurants nearby.  Even if you are from out of town, IAH international airport is only about 30 minutes away from the race venue. This race is a great excuse for out of town athletes to experience Texas and all the state has to offer.

Check In

Check in for the race was very organized with lots of volunteers.  Everything was clearly labeled and explained, which a relief was since this was my first 140.6. The race packets also had lots of great “goodies” inside.  Keep in mind that the expo/check in is located outside though which can get pretty warm (May in Texas).  If you are racing but still want to do some shopping at the expo, I would suggest going earlier in the day and taking fluids with you to stay hydrated.

Swim Preview

The swim course was pretty simple with only a few turns, therefore only having a few opportunities for bottlenecks with the swimmers.  The first turn is about ¾ of a mile out, leaving time for the athletes to spread out and get in a groove before having to take a sharp turn.  The first turn was the only congested part of the swim course.  Beware that once athletes take the last turn into the canal part of the swim, the water can get pretty choppy since the canal is not very wide.  However, it is most likely that the athletes will be spread out enough by then to eliminate some of the waves.  Also, athletes should plan on warm water temperatures and most likely not needing a wetsuit if they feel comfortable swimming without one.  The course is only one loop which is much easier than having to do two loops that require more energy to enter and exit the water multiple times.

[CLICK FOR SWIM COURSE MAP]

Bike Preview

The bike course is also one large loop, with sufficient markers and volunteers stationed at possible points of confusion.  The majority of the course is flat and fast, which allows athletes to get comfortable in their aero positions and race at a good pace.  It is very important to remember fluids on the bike course as the weather has the potential to be very hot.  Aid stations are located every ten miles with sufficient water, energy drinks and food for the athletes but it is important that athletes always have enough water on them.

I felt pretty good on the bike up until around mile 90 when my body hit a little wall.  In order to stay focused and encouraged, I started to treat the aid stations as small “goals” that I had to reach.  By mentally giving myself shorter goals along the long course, I was able to distract myself and keep pushing to the transition area. The course is not very spectator friendly for those who parked in the race venue area at the Woodlands Waterway because traffic makes it hard for spectators to get in/out with cars.  The best place for spectators to see the athletes is at the beginning of the course (before athletes leave the Waterway) and when they return to T2.  A significant amount of the course winds through quiet, country roads with very few cars or people, thus it is important that athletes have enough nutrition and bike maintenance supplies.  However, other parts of the course are on busier roads where the only the shoulder or right lane is blocked off for the riders.

[CLICK FOR BIKE COURSE MAP]
[CLICK HERE FOR BIKE COURSE ELEVATION PROFILE]

Run Preview

The run was definitely the best part of the race.  The course was three loops and very spectator friendly.  Part of the course runs along the canal while the back half winds through neighborhoods.  The course was pretty flat and very well marked, with no confusion for the athletes and aid stations promptly stationed at every mile.  To my surprise, I felt pretty good on the run, giving the credit to the awesome people out there cheering and my Newton shoes of course!  The last mile before the finish was amazing with the huge crowd and winding finish, definitely making all of the hard work worth it in the end.

[CLICK FOR RUN COURSE MAP]
[CLICK HERE FOR RUN COURSE ELEVATION PROFILE]

Transition Preview

Transition was well organized and clearly marked for the athletes.  Lots of volunteers were available in the changing tents which was helpful.   I actually took quite a long break in T2 and had a quick chat with some of the volunteers while I ate my peanut butter sandwich (15 minutes to be exact!).  They were more than happy to have the company in the tent.  Always be sure to thank the fantastic volunteers along the way!

Summary & Tips for Spectators

The whole race venue is great for spectators, with the Marriott hotel located right next to the expo and lots of good restaurants and a movie theater right in the area.  However, trying to drive around on race day could pose problems for spectators.  The bike course uses one of the only roads that leads into the Woodlands Waterway area (where all of the race activities occur) so spectators could find themselves in slow moving traffic if they want to leave/return during the race.  I would suggest spectators parking in the race venue area and planning on staying in the Waterway area all day.  Spectators could bring a bike to ride around the course area in order to cheer on the athletes.  Lots of restaurants, shopping and a movie theater will provide entertainment while the athletes are racing.

Overall, Ironman Texas was a great experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone that is interested in racing.  It was a great venue, volunteers, course and spectators and I would definitely race it again.

Have you raced Ironman Texas? What did you think?

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Day one of the 2013 Boston Marathon!

Posted by on Friday, April 12, 2013 @ 9:08 pm | Leave a reply

The entire Newton Running crew had a very busy day for the opening of the 2013 Boston Marathon expo today! While the expo crew was inside the Hynes center getting shoes on feet, Brandon and the Ginger Runner were out on the street getting soaked and meeting people. Here’s a brief recap of a day that was soaking but didn’t really dampen our spirits.

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