About 85 Buena Vista University students, faculty and staff are participating in the Iron Beaver Challenge this month, a less intense version of the international Ironman triathlons that draw thousands of competitors from around the world.
The Iron Beaver participants have had the month of March to complete the challenge which is based on the traditional Ironman distances for swimming (2.4 miles), bicycling (112 miles) and running (26.2 miles). They work on the distances at their own pace and on their own schedule.
The event is sponsored by the Human Performance Student Organization (HiPSO) at BVU, says Dr. Matt Hanson, assistant professor of exercise science and human performance program director. Hanson is a triathlon veteran, having competed in several events in recent years including the world Ironman championships in Kona, Hawaii in 2011 and the half Ironman in Las Vegas last fall.
"One of the main goals of HiPSO is to increase physical activity on and off campus. This encourages people to get moving," says Hanson. Last year, and again this year, the student organization sponsored an indoor triathlon as part of Storm Lake's Extreme Winterfest, and the response was so good the students launched Iron Beaver to build on that interest.
"Though Iron Beaver is formally over April 1, many participants last year made it a goal to complete one in April and May as well," Hanson notes. "This challenge runs on the honor system so some people will complete it entirely on campus, some will get miles in when they go home for the weekend or over spring break." About 65 percent of the participants are female. A few people from the Storm Lake area community also compete in Iron Beaver.
"The purpose of our group is to promote fitness and physical activity," says Lesa Turnquist, president of HiPSO. "Because this event is a month long, it helps the participants create good exercise habits doing three different types of physical activity. We hope they are able to carry these habits past the month of March." Lesa is a sophomore human performance major from Alta.
Hanson plans to compete in several triathlons this year and wants to qualify for the 2013 world half Ironman championship in Las Vegas and the world Ironman championships in Hawaii. "My biggest goal for the year is to attain my Elite card which will allow me to compete as a professional rather than an amateur," he says. "This is a lofty goal, but I was close to achieving it last year."