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Mantecan treks 140.6 miles to personal glory

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Mantecan treks 140.6 miles to personal glory

Manteca resident Rob de Groot prepares to mount his bike during the 20th Full Vineman Triathlon in Sonoma County this past Saturday.

Photo contributed/

POSTED August 6, 2009 1:31 a.m.
Forty-four-year-old Mantecan Rob de Groot sacrificed plenty just to prepare for last Saturday’s 20th Full Vineman Triathlon, the oldest independent Ironman event in the country, in Sonoma County.

There were the two-a-day workouts for six months. The six-hour bike rides from Manteca to Linden to Tracy and back home. The three-hour jogs, and the hour-long swims.

His wife, Lisa, fully supported him but often worried about the long hours away from home. He missed one daughter’s swim meets and another’s dance recitals.

With his family behind him, de Groot, charged by salt and various sports snacks,  jogged, biked and swam his way to an impressive 13th-place finish (out of 75) in the 45-49-year-old male division. He was also 122nd out of 683 overall.

“I’m just blown away,” de Groot said. “The big man upstairs was really looking after me. I’ve done about a dozen half-Ironman races before and finished in the middle, but no way have I placed that high.”

The race consisted of a 2.4-mile swim, 112 miles on bike and 26.2 on foot in a single day.

Once there to register, de Groot was admittedly intimidated. The enormity of the event and caliber athletes compared to some of the smaller Ironman competitions he had been involved with had him in awe.

“They just looked daunting,” he said. “When we started I just told myself to take it easy and just finish — don’t do anything stupid.”

After the swim, he spent his 112 miles on bike loading up over 3,500 calories. The mid-race snack included four Cliff Bars, two bananas, six Gatorades, four liters of water, a Pay Day bar and 10 packets of Goo energy gel.

“The guy that registered me advised me to eat, eat, eat while on the bike,” de Groot said. “When I got off the bike I felt great. After the first of three laps (during the running stage) I was doing well, but then I started to cramp up.”

A quick pit stop for salt tablets hampered his time some at the end, but overall the race was a success.

The East Union High varsity boys assistant basketball coach, who was on Sierra High’s girls hoops staff the past two seasons, always knew he had natural endurance. His interest in triathlon events was piqued after noticing how well his body held up during pick-up basketball games.

But the step-up from the half-triathlons to the biggest full was going to be a challenge, so he put his body to the test leading up to Saturday. All told, de Groot logged about 100 miles in the pool, 2,750 on the bike and 675 of running.

“When (training) first started out I was doing OK, but after a while I was sick of working out to be honest with you,” de Groot said. “I had a program and trusted it. It looks like it paid off.”
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