By (Jenny Hudson)

Swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles is not how most people want to spend a Saturday, but four members of the Alabama triathlon club will be doing just that tomorrow.

For Alabama senior Jeffery Poole, the extremely long distances make the IRONMAN Florida triathlon one of the most difficult sporting events.

Despite the daunting 112 mile trek by bike, Poole thinks this leg is actually his strong suit because he regularly cycles three to four time a week. Before arriving in Tuscaloosa to study mechanical engineering, Poole had never completed a marathon before joining the Alabama triathlon team in the fall of 2014.

Poole said the distances are nearly incomparable to a marathon of 26.2 miles, that many people dream of finishing.

“There are not a lot of people in the world who can say they can compete in an IRONMAN,” Poole said.

For Poole, John Michael White and Kyle Robinson, training has been going on since the 2014 IRONMAN Florida triathlon ended. The three teammates attended last year’s triathlon as volunteers, helping make sure the race ran smoothly. As volunteers, they were eligible for an earlier registration slot than the normal registration slot, which White said is typically sold out in 10 minutes.

IRONMAN Florida requires additional training for the 140.6-mile triathlon. Poole, White and Robinson have not only been training on longer distances than their usual sprint distance of a 750-meter swim, 12.4-mile bike and 5k run, or olympic distance of a .93-mile swim, 40k bike and 10k run, but they also have to prepare nutrition wise. Due to the race’s intense nature, participants can burn upwards of 10,000 calories during the event.

“In races this long that take 12 hours, you can’t complete it unless you have nutrition,” White said.

While each member can work on proper nutrition during the race, parts of the event come more naturally to different members. For White, a junior double majoring in operational management and marketing, that would be running. He said it is difficult to complete the full marathon run at the end of the race, but having ran cross country and track in high school helps with the familiarity.

While White struggles with swimming, Robinson, a junior double majoring in biology and Spanish says swimming is his strong point. Robinson swam for six months in high school while trying out cross country and cycling, but never really found his niche. It was the combination of the three sports that drew his attention to the triathlon club at Alabama.

When a competitor starts to lag behind during the race it is usually not the supporters who give the greatest inspiration to finish before the 17-hour cut-off time, but the other competitors.

“The other racers are the ones that know exactly how you feel,” said White. “If they come up behind you and they see you stop and walk, they’re going to encourage you to keep going.”

Both, Poole, White and Robinson said the part they are most looking forward to during the race is running across the finish line.

“The feeling of finishing is fantastic,” Robinson said. “It’s such a big challenge and when you finish it, you feel like you can do anything.”

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports