A pair of Rim Country athletes battled torrential winds, hail, hypothermia and a testing bicycle course to finish the grueling Ford Arizona Ironman competition in what both consider commendable times.
Carolyn Fruth, competing in the 45-49 years women’s division completed the course in 13:26.06 and Ken Boyes, entered in the 45-49 men’s division was clocked in 13:10.45.
The ultra distance triathlon consisted of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.
For both Fruth and Boyes, the Ironman, which was held Nov. 21 in the Tempe area, was a first attempt at a full triathlon.
While the extreme distances and the competition of facing some of the world’s toughest athletes were a challenge for the Payson duo, it was the cold and windy weather conditions that tested their limits.
The water temperatures in Tempe Town Lake, where the swim was held, were frigid causing hypothermia in some of the entrants. Those affected were treated by Tempe firefighters after emerging from the lake.
Also in the race, the Payson athletes battled extreme wind and light rain, mixed with hail, that rendered the cycling portion of the triathlon a test of will and determination.
“I had trained really hard, but the cycling was the toughest for me, I just never felt comfortable,” said Fruth.
Boyes agreed, saying the weather conditions were difficult to deal with while riding a bike on a rolling three-loop course that included a portion along Beeline Highway.
Fruth finished the bike race in 7:19.55 and Boyes finished in 6:20.55.
For Fruth, a longtime distance runner, the running portion of the triathlon turned into a highlight.
“I felt really good in it,” she said. “I was able to make up some time that I had lost in the bike (race).”
Her husband, Tim, who was in Tempe to cheer Carolyn on agreed, “she did really rally good in the run.”
Carolyn Fruth covered the 26-plus mile run portion in 4:08.25 and Boyes was timed in 4:57.53.
In the swimming, Fruth finished in 1:36.40 and Boyes did it in 1:32.46.
For Boyes, the total triathlon time was “about an hour ahead of what my goal was.”
Fruth said she was “very happy” with her time, but it was the sense of accomplishment of having finished the punishing triathlon that was the real reward.
“Excited, happy, thrilled — I felt all those afterwards,” she said. “You can train for it (the Ironman), but it’s so different when you actually do it.”
For example, she had trained diligently for the swim, but usually alone or with only a few other competitors.
“In the Ironman, there was more than 2,000 people in the water, that made it really different,” Fruth said.
Overall, she finished 34th in her age group, pitted against some of the finest athletes from 50 states and 30 countries.
Both have not made up their minds whether or not they will again enter a triathlon event.
“Maybe when my grandson turns 18, I’ll train and do it again,” said Boyes.
Fruth said, “I’ll never say never.”
Last June, both Boyes and Fruth represented Payson in the Seventh Annual Dueces Wild Ironman Festival Triathalon.
Fruth finished 26th among the female entrants and third in the 45-49 age division covering the course in 6:37.05.
Ken Boyes was first in the Clydesdale division and 85th among the men in 7:06.43.
The half-marathon, in which Ken Boyes and Fruth competed, included a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run.
In 2009 at the Payson Sprint Triathalon, a shorter version of a full triathlon, Fruth won the women’s crown in 1:24.20.
Also in 2009, the 44-year-old mother of two ran the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon in 3:34 — about 26 minutes faster than the 4-hour goal she set for herself.
With a 3:38 clocking four months earlier at P.F. Chang’s Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon in Phoenix, Fruth qualified for the historic Boston Marathon.
Fruth sprang into the triathlon scene on July 20, 2008 near Flagstaff in the 24th Annual Mountain Man Half Ironman. Despite being a first-time competitor, she ran, swam and biked her way to a second-place finish in the 40-44 years age division.
Most importantly, she turned in a 6:43:36 clocking over a rugged, high altitude course that included a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile mountain bike ride and a 13.1-mile run.
“I’m very happy with my time since this was my first Mountain Man,” she said.
Fruth is also a frequent entrant in Pat’s Run, a 4.2-mile race in Tempe held each year as a tribute to Pat Tillman. In it she has several age-group top finishes to her credit, including a fourth in the 40-42 years female division.