Teacher finishes Ironman triathlon

By Paul Strike 2010

On a calm Sunday morning when we were all just waking up, Jeff Hartman was swimming in Lake Monona for his first leg of the Ironman Wisconsin triathlon. Hartman, a chemistry teacher and the men’s assistant cross country coach, was competing in his second Ironman Wisconsin.

Ironman triathlons are among the hardest endurance challenges known to man. The race starts with a 2.4 mile swim in Lake Monona, a 112 mile bike ride and finishes with a 26.2 mile run ending at the state capitol steps in Madison.

Hartman’s last Ironman in 2004 helped him immensely in his preparations before and during the race.

“I was familiar with the course and all of the activity leading up to the race. It also helped me know what to expect in the later stages of the race,” Hartman said.

Hartman has been in training for the race for a year. “I try to swim two-three times a week, bike at least three days a week and run two-three days a week.”

Right before the gun was fired, Hartman’s experience gave him a cool head. “I was actually pretty calm before the race and looking forward to get started,” Hartman said.

The race started at 7 a.m. with the swim. “The swim start is always a little rough. There are 2,200 people all starting at once, so there is a lot of kicking, bumping and grabbing until the field gets spread out a little,” Hartman said.

Out of the three parts of the triathlon, Hartman said he felt the swim was his best event. “I got out toward the front early, so the last two miles of my swim went smoothly. I was just enjoying the experience.”

Hartman finished the swim in 1:02:48, the bike in 6:23:43 and the run in 5:32:11. His overall time, 13 hours 16 minutes was almost an hour and a half faster than last time.

When Hartman crossed the finish line, he had a lot of things still running through his mind. “It was a mixture of emotions: relief, pride in my accomplishment, thankful for all of the people that were there to cheer me on, humbled by some of the great things I saw other people doing along the way.”

Hartman had a lot of support from his family from the beginning of his training to the end of the race.

“My wife (Jennifer) and my kids (Savannah, Jacob and Luke) have been incredibly supportive the whole time. Whenever I’d get back from a workout, they’d always ask how far I’d gone. Their encouragement kept me training and their confidence in me really helped when I was getting nervous before the race.”

The family also has a little bit of a tradition at the end of the race.

“Last time Jack and Savannah crossed the finish line with me, this year my two-year old son Luke ran across the finish line with me.”

Head men’s cross country coach Troy Becker took eight members of the team with him to Madison to support Hartman.

“Having them to cheer me on really motivated me at times when I really needed it. Several times during the marathon I was tired and walking and when they started chanting my name I got pumped up and would start running for another mile. I will never forget those guys for the support they gave me.”

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