NEWBERRY — In his early 70s, Donald Smith does something most people wouldn’t even dream of doing, Ironman Triathlons, in fact he has qualified to go to Hawaii in the World Championship on Oct. 13.
“This is my fifth year, doing triathlons, but I’ve been doing marathons all my life. I’ve always been a long distance runner, and I’ve done a lot of long bike rides,” Smith said. “I’ve done two full Ironman Triathlons, a full Ironman is 140.6 miles, and that is made up of 2.4 mile swim, first, then come out of the water and get on the bike and ride for 112 miles and you get off and run 26.2 miles.”
When it comes to the triathlons, Smith said the most challenging part is the marathon run, because it is last and you’ve used up a lot of energy and nutrition at that point. Despite this, Smith’s best time was in Chattanooga, Tennessee at 13 hours and 41 minutes.
“The way the Ironman works, everybody is divided up in age groups, I’m in the 70-74 age group, when I ran in Chattanooga I won my age group and because I did that, that qualified me to go to the World Championship in Hawaii, and that’s the only way you get there, you get there by qualification,” Smith said.
In Chattanooga, there were 12 other competitors in Smith’s age group.
Smith’s first triathlon was in Louisville, Kentucky. The reason Smith got into the sport was because he has always been an endurance type of athlete. He has always been a runner, and his wife, Dianna, has been attentive to nutrition, so he says he eats well, sleeps well and has a good lifestyle.
“I’ve been blessed, some people can have all that, and end up with injuries with knees and hips, and other than a few accidents here or there, I haven’t had any set backs in my life,” Smith said. “My personality is like an A Type personality, so I push myself. I know from my Marine Corp training you can go a lot further than you think you can.”
At 72, Smith says he feels healthier today than he did 10 years ago, when he started competing he lost five to 10 pounds on average, and when he trains he drops more weight. He says his weight and cardiovascular system is really good, and his doctors are his biggest fans.
When it comes to training, Smith has a long distance coach based out of Hilton Head. When he wants to compete, he tells her a year ahead of time, and about nine months prior she will start him on a training regiment.
“Six days a week I’m doing something, two out of the three sports, or one really long. I build up to the weekend,” he said.
His wife is also a crucial part of his success as well, he says her knowledge of nutrition and hydration is probably half of an Ironman.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.