Dr. Steve Saunders from Waupaca competed in the Ironman in Madison, Wisconsin on Sunday, September 11, 2011.
After a full year of training, he finished the 2.4 mile swim, the 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile marathon in 13 hours 54 minutes and 36 seconds! His finishing time was faster than he had predicted. All athletes had to complete the Ironman race by Midnight. The swim portion of the race was an aggressive mass start of all 2,800 athletes in Lake Monona. Even though the swim was extremely crowded with constant contact from all the thrashing of legs & arms around him, Steve was able to finish his swim faster than he had hoped. This set the tone for the rest of the day.
Once Steve got on his bike, he raced through the neighboring towns west of Madison. The Madison bike course is one of the more challenging bike courses in the Ironman series, because of the many large and long hills. He completed the bike portion an hour ahead of his goal time. Still feeling great, Steve went out for the run portion of the triathlon. T
he final marathon can prove to be brutal physically and mentally! Steve was able to stick to his nutrition plan, and work through some calf cramps as he ran through the streets of downtown Madison lined with cheering spectators.
The crowd support and all of the family, friends, and coworkers that were cheering for Steve along the 140.6 mile course was amazing. The day also carried extra emotion, since this years Ironman was held on the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.
Steve says the best part of the day was crossing the finish line in front of the state capital and hearing Mike Reilly (the voice of Ironman) announce “Steve Saunders- You Are An Ironman!”
Being an Ironman Finisher is one of Steve’s proudest achievements!
Steve is a 1999 graduate of the University of Illinois Dental School in Chicago and is the owner of Waupaca Dental Excellence in Waupaca. Steve has been married to Beth Saunders for 14 years. He is also a father of 4 young children (Laura 10, Evan 7, Sophie 5, Parker 2).
Training a full year for the Ironman was a huge commitment with many hours of training & required sacrifices. Besides working on patients, running a business, and raising a family, Steve helped with his son’s hockey team and coached two of his children’s soccer teams. Before moving to Waupaca 7 1/2 years ago, Steve had not participated in triathlons before and w
asn’t even a runner. Steve credits friend and training partner,Dr. Matt Oetken (formerly of Waupaca), for introducing him to the love of running. Steve’s first year living in Waupaca, he discovered the Waupaca triathlon and has been hooked ever since. Steve has completed many running races, duathlons, and triathlons since living in Wisconsin. P
rior to Ironman, his longer events included completing 2 marathons and 2 Half Ironman 70.3 distance races. Steve’s wife has also taken up running, triathlons, and attending races with Steve and also competes every year in the Waupaca triathlon. Steve’s kids look forward to participating in the Waupaca Kids Triathlon every summer.
Steve would like to thank his family, friends, & coworkers for all of their support during training and on race day. It was a journey that will be cherished forever!