Iron and Mud

On June 22nd, Tanner Gjersvig will swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles and run 13.1 miles on a Sunday morning. The occasion is the Syracuse Ironman 70.3, and he’s doing it voluntarily.

“Now is the time,” he said, when asked why. “And I needed to scare myself into getting into shape.”

To those of us whose sporting lives revolve around the sofa, the young ChaseDesign project specialist already seemed to be in shape. But he felt he could lose 20 pounds and with the help of a treadmill, weight training, a stationary bike trainer, outdoor runs and rides, and countless laps at a local high school pool, he is reaching Ironman condition. When playing hockey this winter, he said, “I found a gear I hadn’t had in a few years.”

Tanner credits two of his ChaseDesign co-workers – Jon Cammarata and Chris Andrews – for introducing him to cycling, and after a recent practice ride with Chris on the 56-mile course, Tanner was judged to be not just ready but “an animal.”

And what will he face? The organizers make it sound lovely:

“The race begins in Jamesville Reservoir, where athletes will complete a 1.2-mile, single-loop swim. The 56-mile bike course winds through the Highland Forest recreational area, taking athletes through the picturesque, rolling countryside of Onondaga, Madison, and Cortland counties. Athletes will finish their race with a 13.1-mile run in and out of Jamesville Beach County Park, offering plenty of shade to accompany the challenging rolling hills.”

A previous participant, who goes by “Dutch,” offers another perspective, describing the first moments of the swim as “a washing machine fist fight,” and saying of the bicycle course, “I saw one poor individual do the ‘Benny Hill’ – peddle until they couldn't peddle any longer and then fall over.” But everyone agrees that the run is the worst part. The hills are “nasty,” “relentless,” “evil” and “miserable.” And those are the printable comments. None of this worries Tanner, who will tune up with an 800 yard swim, 14 mile bike ride and 5K run the weekend before.

Nor is Tanner the only athlete at ChaseDesign. Also in June, mechanical engineer Matt Gortner will run in the Nate Race in Canastota, N.Y. Matt has run in the 5K race since 1997, and last year was joined by his daughter.

Team Gortner in the Nate Race, 2014

The Gorges Ithaca Half Marathon will give our director of client strategy, David Aureden, a beautiful view of Ithaca, N.Y., after he runs up to the top of the city and the Cornell campus, very high above Cayuga’s waters.  (In October, David will enjoy “a lovely flat course” at the Empire State Half Marathon, where, at the turn-around, he will high-five freelance graphic artist Sara Kelly running in her fifth half marathon.)

Accounting analyst Matt LaManna, who completed a half marathon at Sackets Harbor last summer, will be setting the pace at the Syracuse RUNapalooza 5K in May, and the Utica Boilermaker 15K in July, two annual traditions for him, following his March tuneup in the Tipp Hill Shamrock Run.

In July, graphic designer Angela Poccia will vie for glory at the Pass It Along Triathlon at Lake Mohawk in Sparta, N.J.

Team LANO – Angela, Linda, Nina – 2014

A former swim team captain, Angela leads off with 750 meters in the water, followed by her mother, Linda, doing 15K on the bike, and her sister, Nina, in the 5K run. As “Team LANO,” the Poccia family has put fear into the hearts of their competitors since 2011. 

Also in July, graphic and communications designer Courtney Schwarting will be competing in her first triathlon, the Mini-Mussel in Geneva, N.Y. – a 750 meter swim, 26K bike ride, 5K run – of which she says, “I’m just hoping to finish without any bodily harm.” Formerly a collegiate swimmer at RIT, Courtney will start out in a canal connecting Seneca Lake to the Seneca River, bicycle along scenic roads dotted with vineyards, and run on a course described as “completely flat and well-shaded with ancient weeping willow trees.”

In August, not to be left behind, industrial designer Jonathan Fitch and senior client strategist Ben Watkins will tackle the Western New York Tough Mudder in Andover, N.Y. The 10-mile course traverses ponds, dense woodlands and “a plethora of mud bogs and sloppy swamps,” studded with sinister obstacles such as the icy Chernobyl Jacuzzi, Berlin Walls, Cry Baby (tear gas!), and the crown jewel, Electroshock Therapy, in which Jon and Ben will make a muddy dash through an upside-down forest of live wires, some of which carry up to 10,000 volts.

Of course, Tanner Gjersvig has already done that.

Tanner Gjersvig at the Buffalo Tough Mudder, 2013

On a saner note, managing partner Lisa King plans to run in four half marathons this autumn, working toward her goal of running a half marathon in each of the 50 states.

We wish all of our co-workers safe and successful trips, and we look forward to photos.