Coeur d'Alene triathletes fired up with Ironman fever

Cindy Clutter's shorts and tank top hardly seem appropriate in the 28 degrees at 4:45 a.m. But she's ready — no, impatient — to pant and sweat on a stationary bike before too much of the day escapes.

"I've got to think of something else," she says, chuckling self-consciously. "I'm doing better now that I saw the training program I'm doing, and it's not that bad."

Ironman fever seized Cindy last August. It swept like a wildfire through the region after Ironman North America chose Coeur d'Alene for its Western U.S. Ironman race, scheduled for June 29.

The race, with its 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run, most likely will stay in Coeur d'Alene for five years.

"How lucky to have it in our back yard," Cindy, 43, says. She's competed in triathlons for two years, but never one of Ironman length. Coeur d'Alene's will be her first.

"I've watched so many people struggle through those," she says. "I want to find out what it's like to walk in those people's shoes."

So Cindy, a Coeur d'Alene School District special education teacher, fits eight rigorous workouts, her family and a full-time job into each week, baffling friends and co-workers. A nurse at school told her this week she looked awful. Cindy hopes the nurse just didn't recognize the glow of extreme fitness.

"I want to see if I have it," she says, grinning.

Brian Travis, 31, also fell prey to Ironman fever.

"I gotta do it," he says. "This is what we all worked for."

Brian grew up in a family that speaks triathlon as a second tongue. "Need some carbs. Got speed training in the morning, wind sprints on the hill course at noon and 50 fifties on a minute after lunch." Eh?

Brian watched his dad, Bill, blossom in the triathlon world, finishing 14 Ironmans worldwide, and become Coeur d'Alene's favorite source on endurance training. Brian volunteered at races from age 12, then directed races. He and his mom, Carol, also a longtime volunteer, began racing a few years ago.

They couldn't believe their luck when Ironman landed in their hometown. Both signed up for their first endurance event.

"Just to have Ironman in Coeur d'Alene is the biggest trophy people like my dad and mom could get," Brian says.

His training allows him to sleep in until 5 a.m. Otis, his border collie, pulls him through his 13-mile runs. His two toddlers cheer him on.

"My dad has no idea how many people started racing because of him. My mom and dad are half the reason I'm doing it," Brian says. "I'm so proud of them."

Ironman Coeur d'Alene's 1,800 racing slots filled in six weeks. About 50 of those positions belong to North Idaho and Spokane competitors. The race will continue to accept local entries until the end of March, for those people open to a 12- to 18-hour nonstop workout.

"I'd do it every year if my wife would let me do it," says Kevin Glynn, 43. He helped plot this year's Ironman courses and already has one Ironman race under his belt. It didn't deter him. He's entered in the June 29 race.

"I'm really excited about this thing," says Kevin, another victim of Ironman fever. "I'm hooked."

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