Captain using Ironman to highlight Wounded Warrior cause
September 10, 2009
- Army CPT Jason Tebedo, 28, will compete in Ford Ironman World Championship Oct. 10 at Kona, Hawaii
- He hopes to raise $5,000 for Wounded Warrior Project
- Tebedo aims to finish 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile marathon in 11 hours
FORT BENNING, GA - CPT Jason Tebedo has experienced at least half the pain of a triathlon. He\'ll face the full brunt next month.
On Oct. 10, he's scheduled to compete in the Ford Ironman World Championship at Kona, Hawaii, an endurance race that leads participants over 2.4 miles of swimming through ocean waves, 112 miles of biking and a 26.2-mile marathon run.
The Ironman is considered the sport's biggest stage, with tens of thousands of triathletes bidding for a spot in the field every year, according to the event's Web site at http://ironman.com/worldchampionship. Only 1,800 make it.
Tebedo, 28, said he earned a berth by placing first in his age division at the Hawaii Half Ironman on May 30. He was stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and took advantage of a special qualifier for state residents. Tebedo finished a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13-mile run in five hours, six minutes.
He started the Maneuver Captains Career Course at Fort Benning two months ago and will graduate in December.
Tebedo said his shot at completing the Ironman is more than just a personal goal. He's raising money and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project. He's collected almost $2,000 so far but hopes to reach $5,000 in donations.
"I am not seeking sponsorship," he said. "I am seeking help in the form of donations for wounded Soldiers who receive financial assistance from the WWP."
Tebedo, who has gone through Ranger and Airborne schools, said he got the idea to attempt a triathlon during his 15-month deployment to Iraq with the 25th Infantry Division. After returning in March, he began preparing for the Hawaii Half Ironman.
"It was kind of like that next challenge in life, something to push myself to complete," he said. "I had a buddy who did triathlons. I thought, if this guy can do it, I can do it."
By engaging in a sport that taxes the body and mind so heavily, Tebedo said he also views himself as a role model for others, particularly his Soldiers.
"If you really apply yourself, this is what you can accomplish," he said. "Knowing the Soldiers I lead see me do this, maybe they'll think they can do it too or do more."
The Ironman is a grueling test of wills run under demanding conditions that make it among the world's toughest events, Tebedo said. Temperatures are typically in the 90s and the humidity is above 90 percent. The heat radiates off an asphalt blacktop most of the time, and winds can gust to 20 mph.
Since its inception more than three decades ago, the Ironman has produced images of triathletes literally crawling across the finish line, physically and emotionally drained.
"It's hard to describe misery," Tebedo said. "You're already depleted by the time you get to the bike or the run. It's not easy by any means. It's just a miserable event."
At his worst moments in May's half-triathlon, he said he persevered through the pain by reminding himself what he was racing for.
"If I go out there and quit, I wouldn't just be letting myself down but a lot of other people as well who have been supporting me," he said. "It's so easy just to say 'I quit' and get on the bus and go back home. Or you can suck it up and remember why you're there in the first place."
Tebedo said his training regimen is intense. He'll start as early as 4:30 a.m. and spend three hours on a long run, bike ride or swim. After MCCC class every afternoon, he works out for a couple of more hours.
On weekends, he hops on the bicycle for six to seven hours and often jumps in the pool afterward for more conditioning. There are no off days, he said.
Tebedo hopes to finish the Ironman course in 11 hours. It's taken some people up to 24 hours. But he said he has no doubt he'll make it all the way.
"My family will be there. I'm raising money for this cause and thinking of my Soldiers, leading by example," he said. "I know I'll finish - even if I have to crawl across the finish line."
To donate to his effort, visit the Wounded Warrior Project's Web site at www.woundedwarriorproject.org. Under the "Get Involved" tab, click on "Sponsor a Participant." Then type in "Jason Tebedo" to reach his personal page.
"God gives us all talents in life. It's what you do with it that makes a difference," Tebedo said. "I believe that God has enabled me to have this opportunity to go to the Ironman, and I want to use this opportunity to further a greater cause than myself."