Jeff Meeks is an Admissions Counselor here at Warner University, but little did most of us know, he is also an Iron Man. On September 25, Meeks competed in the Ironman Chattanooga Triathlon, which consists of the 2.4 mile swim, the 112 mile bike race, and the 26.2 mile marathon, and despite the brutal heat conditions, Meeks accomplished what he had set out to do: finish the race.
Meeks had previously participated in shorter distance triathlons and even had been around the Ironman Triathlon working with them as an announcer for some of the events over the past several years. He finally got bit by the bug and took the plunge to actually compete in one, so he signed up for the Chattanooga race this year.
“Besides the challenge the Ironman provides and it being a bucket list item, being around the events I became inspired with the amazing stories of the athletes I would hear and the broad spectrum of the individuals who do this sport,” said Meeks. “I began to think to myself at the events ‘Man, I can really do that.’”
Meeks begun his training earlier in the year with the only goal being to survive and finish the race. During the training sessions he made sure he focused on pacing himself on each portion of the race and sometimes simulated part of the race by going through two portions back to back.
“You have to find blocks of time. It’s all about the discipline,” Meeks said.
The day of the race was a very unexpectedly hot one in Tennessee. Nearly a third of the athletes ended up dropping from the race. It had the second largest dropout rate of any Ironman event.
“It was the toughest thing I have ever done,” said Meeks. “On the bike I began to cramp up really bad and I didn’t even think I would finish the race. I kept working through it and made it to the marathon. Several times on the run the thought came back that I wasn’t going to finish, but then you get to a point where you can’t stop; you just keep going, not even knowing how you are doing it. I drew support from the thousands of people in the crowd, my wife there watching, and somehow I just kept going.”
Meeks completed his goal and finished the race just under 16 hours, and is leaving an open door for a potential second Ironman event. I want to see Tony Stark do that!
The Ironman Triathlon was created in the early 80’s in Hawaii after a group of men decided to put three events together after much discussion from the locals about which event was the toughest to compete in. There are now over 150 Ironman events around the world.