Undertaking a grueling event few would have the gumption, determination or talent to enter, Carolyn Fruth has tacked on yet another dazzling feat to her long and impressive resume.
It occurred Oct. 23 at the Soma Red Rock Triathlon in Tempe where the 46-year-old Payson mother of two ran, cycled and swam her way to a 10th-place age group finish.
The event, conducted at “Half Ironman” distances, included a 1.2-mile swim in Tempe Town Lake, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run.
For Fruth, her best event of the three has long been the run, probably because she ran her first marathon in eighth-grade and has been running, a’la Forrest Gump, since.
In Tempe, however, she mysteriously struggled with the run portion.
“It’s hard to say why — I hurt my shoulder training and that affected me,” she said. “Also the heat, it was about 93 degrees, and also I might have hydrated myself too much on the bike (ride),” she said. “I probably could have done better (in the run), but I’m happy with what I did.”
What she did was turn in a time of 2:22.52 in the run that was the seventh fastest in her highly competitive age group, which was comprised of 29 seasoned, hard-core runners.
For all three triathlon events, including transitions, she was timed at 6:28.50.40.
Some triathletes, including Fruth, say the transitions, known as T1 (water to bike), T2 (bike to run), significantly add to overall time because they are surprisingly difficult challenges involving tasks some do not properly prepare for.
In her early training, Fruth struggled with transitions, but has since mastered the nuances of the changes.
With transitions conquered, Fruth called upon her experiences of competing at other Half Ironman events — in Flagstaff and Show Low — to buoy her during the heated Red Rock competition.
In Tempe, she was treated to a pleasant and unexpected surprise when she found the water temperatures in Town Lake to be much warmer than those in the mountain communities where she previously competed.
“The warm water was nice, but different than what I was use to” she said.
Fruth’s list of running accomplishments the past few years is extensive and includes triathlons, marathons, 5K and 10K events.
Last spring in Tempe, she paced a contingent of 21 Rim Country runners who participated in the Seventh Annual Pat’s Run, covering the 4.2-mile course in a Payson-best time of 31:11.
Fruth has competed in five of seven Pat’s Runs, and her time was a personal record.
In February 2011, she anchored a team of 12 Payson residents on the Expedition Church team that competed in the Ragnar Relay from Wickenburg to Tempe.
Just four months earlier, she entered her first Ford Arizona Ironman competition in Tempe.
There, she battled wind, hail, hypothermia and a testing bicycle course to eventually finish in a time (13:26.06) she considered one of the better efforts of her career, especially considering the elements.
The ultra distance triathlon consisted of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.
In June 2010 she battled her way through the grueling Seventh Annual Deuces Wild Ironman Festival Triathlon to finish 26th among the female entrants and third in the 45-49 age division covering the course in 6:37.05.
The biggest thrill of Fruth’s life in athletics might have occurred in April of 2009 when she successfully completed her first-ever Boston Marathon in a time she once believed impossible.
She completed the 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.
Most remarkable about her time in Boston is that the Rock ’n’ Roll course is considered much faster because it is flat and without the grueling uphill stretches.
Entering the Boston event, Fruth trained on Payson’s Airport Hill for the climb up infamous Heartbreak Hill, a task some marathoners have found too tough to conquer.
Upon her return to Payson, Fruth said, “Heartbreak Hill lives up to its reputation; it is tough.”
With all the Payson wife and mother has accomplished, it might seem she’s ready to kick back and enjoy a bit of R&R.
Not so; she has even more long-distance aspirations.
“I’d like to do the New York Marathon and the Ironman Kona Hawaii,” she said. “They are difficult to qualify for, but I’m going to try, even if I have to get in on the lottery (pick).”