Lewis Elliot made his first trip to Kona, Hawaii, this week. He plans to do some swimming, bike riding and even run along the beach. But it’s no vacation.
The Scottsdale triathlete is competing in his first Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. For the record, that’s a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.
Elliot, 27, is no stranger to triathlons and has been involved with one or more of the triathlon sports since he was old enough to run alongside his father.
“I just love it,” Elliot said. “I remember telling my parents how happy I was that I found racing, then to be able to make a living doing it was like icing on the cake.”
This year Elliot won the Zoot Sprint Triathlon (field of 250), Rocky Point Triathlon (field of 1,000), Scottsdale Triathlon (field of 450) and Florida’s Great Escape Triathlon (field of 600). He was also third (field of 1,000) at the San Diego International Triathlon and eighth (field of 200) in the Battle at Midway Triathlon.
At the moment he’s focused on the field of 1,700 people who qualified for Saturday’s race.
Elliot’s best time this year was the 8 hours, 53 minutes, 51 seconds he posted in finishing eighth overall among 2,200 at the April 15 Arizona Ironman. He’s hoping to finish under 8:30 in Hawaii.
“There are lots of rivalries going on and it should make for a fast race,” Elliot said.
The defending champion is Normann Stadler of Germany, who finished the 2006 event in 8:11.56. Last year’s top American finisher was Chris Lieto, who crossed the line ninth overall at 8:27.37.
“There are a lot of good Americans ... there aren’t any who are really favored to win it,” Elliot said. “Usually people struggle their first time. There are a lot of things that make it more difficult than any other Ironman.”
Then there is the local lore to deal with.
“They talk about these crazy island gods, you really have to pay your dues there and everybody does,” Elliot said. “No one goes in there and does well the first time.”
This past year Elliot has received a lot of support and help from Tri-Scottsdale Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the sport of triathlon and of which Elliot is a co-founder.
Its mission is “to promote health and wellness through the growth of the sport of triathlon in Scottsdale and the surrounding communities.”
In addition to its partnership with Susan G. Komen For The Cure Phoenix to help put on at least two major events each year, the foundation also provides charitable donations to underprivileged children and financial support to triathletes.
“Tri-Scottsdale has made a huge difference especially since it gives me a value beyond my own racing,” Elliot said. “We have a lot of people working together and it’s a great payoff every day.”
Another strength Elliot feels he has going into Saturday’s race is his training regimen.
“I’m was training up to 25 hours a week,” he said. “My biking is great, running is better than ever and swimming is not that bad for having taken a month off.”
Then there is the tent. In preparation for the altitude and weather conditions in Hawaii, Elliot has been sleeping in a Hypoxico tent.
“The tent takes oxygen out of the air and simulates high altitude,” Elliot explained. “It’s like sleeping at 9,000 feet with only about 14 to 15 percent of oxygen in the air as opposed to the normal 21 percent we breathe.”
Elliot said he expects to overcome the altitude, the gods, the wear and tear on his body as the end of the season winds down.
“It’s a world-class field. It’s like the Tour de France or Super Bowl of triathlons.”
This year’s race will be carried live on Ironmanlive.com. Coverage of the race is scheduled to begin at 10:45 a.m. local time.
SPEAKING OF RUNNING ...
Recent Arizona State graduate Katie Ellis competed at The Best of the U.S. Amateur Triathlon National Championships (1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run) last Saturday in Cypress Gardens, Fla.
The competition features 100 athletes – one female and one male athlete representing each state – in a head-to-head, no age-group race.
“The women’s race was one for the books,” Ellis said. “Cathy Yndestad (representing Minnesota) led the race by over 2 1/2 minutes coming off the bike and on to the run. I tried to crunch numbers as I ran, 10 kilometers, 2 1/2 minutes. I had to stop thinking and run faster.”
That strategy paid off as Ellis won the women’s side of the event, passing Yndestad, her closest competitor, in the final segment – the run – with about a mile to go.
“The win crowns me with the title Best of the U.S. (women’s) Triathlete, not bad for the ol’ resumé,” Ellis said.
Ellis’ partner in the event, Cam Hill of Fountain Hills, finished 12th among the men.
Together their combined time led to a second-place finish.
Ellis’ final numbers: 23 minutes, 40 seconds for the swim; 1 hour, 7 minutes, 7 seconds on the bike; and 37:08 for the run.
Up next for Ellis is the SOMA Half Iron-distance Triathlon (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run) scheduled for Oct. 28, in Tempe.
Extra help: A college baseball camp, sponsored by National Scouting Report and Strength Training of America, is scheduled for Saturday beginning with registration from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and the camp session to run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Gene Autry Baseball Complex in Mesa. Cost is $100 (cash only). Contact Joel Cooper at (480) 284-9135 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Calling all hoops coaches
School’s in session: The Arizona Basketball Coaches Association will be hosting its second coaches clinic Saturday at Desert Mountain High School, 1275 E. Via Linda in Scottsdale. Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. and the first speaker will begin at 9 a.m. with other coaches speaking throughout the day until 4 p.m. All coaches at the high school, college, junior high or club team level are invited to participate. Registration will be at the door at $35 per person or $80 for a coaching staff (up to five total). Visit www.azbbcoaches.com or contact Desert Mountain coach Todd Fazio’s staff at email@example.com.
Day at the lake: This year’s Frank Kush Family and Dog Fun Run & Walk is scheduled for Oct. 20 at Tempe Town Lake. The event is open to all ages and features a competitive 5K, a 1-mile Fun Run/Walk for families and the Dog Walk. There will also be a health fair. Registration is $15 for adults and $5 for children. On-site registration and the health fair begin at 7 a.m.; race activities begin at 8:30 a.m. Visit www.frankkush.org/Frank_Kush_Run/frank_kush_run.html for more information.