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Patrick McEntire is now an IRONMAN!

Patrick McEntire representing American Samoa completed in the world’s biggest Iron Man triathlon that was held in New Zealand. He placed 106 out of 1200 triathletes who competed. It’s a triathlon, which requires competitors finish the swim- bike - run in 17 hours or less and our very own local McEntire completed it in 14 hours 32 minutes and 18 seconds.  [Courtesy photo]

Last Saturday in New Zealand, our local Patrick McEntire crossed the finish line of the biggest Ironman triathlon in the world, where he officially became an “Ironman” finishing in 14 hours 32 minutes and 18 seconds. He came in 106th, out of 1200 competitors, and as he crossed the finish line, they announced: At “50 years old, Patrick McEntire of American Samoa, you are an IRONMAN!”

An ironman race is one of the toughest endurance events in the world. It’s a triathlon consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile cycle ride, and 26.2-mile run – all of which must be completed consecutively in 17 hours or less.

Over 1200 triathletes competed, with some who had done it more than once, but for McEntire it was his “first” big race.

The weather before the race was very windy, one triathlete who has done the race 11 times said the weather was worse than any other race but the race still took place.

McEntire who has placed in many triathlons on island and the Warrior race in Savaii, prepared himself for nearly a year to take on this IRONMAN challenge.

The races started off with the swim, McEntire told Samoa News, “I’ve never swam with 1200 people before. There was a bit of kick and hit under the water and so I tried my best to stay outside to avoid that.”

In the transitioning to the bike ride, Patrick described how the ride went smoothly for 30 miles and when he turned to go back and he was going against the strong winds, it slowed him down to 8mph. As he continued on his bike, he started to feel his legs weaken as he hadn’t stopped for 7 hours.

He said, “I went into transition for the run knowing that at least for me the hard part was next. I had never swam 2.4 miles before the race. I had never ridden 112 miles on the bike and I was about to do my first marathon. It was very rough. It wasn't my heart, it was just total fatigue in my legs.”

Patrick said when he was running a friend from home caught up to him, who was also racing, his name is Richard Birgander who is from Sweden, but works at the LBJ Medical Center in American Samoa. “I was really not sure how it was going to be, but it was so great to see him,” says McEntire. They ended up jogging together, which later Birgander asked if he would like for them to finish together. “I was like Yes! Having him there was great and motivating but seeing my wife cheering me on was the highlight of my laps,” he added.

The triathlon had thousands of supporters, volunteers, helpers who were cheering for the triathletes. One supporter said, “I am so glad I volunteered to help with this especially seeing triathletes from the Samoa Islands becoming iron men and women. With us supporting them it really builds them up to keep going and to finish strong.”

McEntire said, “It felt so great hearing people cheer for you especially they did not know who you are but would see your name on your bib and just yell out GO PATRICK.”

Some families and friends of McEntire followed him on the iron man tracker and also posted on facebook — cheering him on for representing our island.

He said, “I just kept thinking I have done something that I thought was impossible. Many people there had. It is an awesome feeling to know I have done it. It isn’t so much of a race but a test. A test of what you are capable of. I am an ironman finisher and no one can take that from me.”

He expressed on his Facebook page gratitude to those who supported him, especially his wife and his family. He wrote, “Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I am now an Iron Man!! “