Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


We are Ironmen

[media-credit name=’BEN CLASSON/Herald photo’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′]Ironman_BC[/media-credit]It's a story as old as dating: A boyfriend gets dragged into going to a movie or out to dinner by his significant other, even though he really doesn't want to go.

University of Wisconsin engineering student Matt Krippner got dragged into doing the Ironman.

Krippner and his girlfriend Vanessa Hensey, UW fifth-year seniors who started dating in high school, will be competing in the legendary endurance race with 15 other UW students when it comes to Madison Sunday. Participants swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run a full marathon (26.2 miles) in 17 hours or less for the competition, which takes place annually in Madison on a course that winds through UW campus, the downtown and surrounding communities.


Hensey signed up for the Ironman on somewhat of a whim a few weeks after last year's race, much to the chagrin of her competitive boyfriend.

"I didn't want to get upstaged by my girlfriend," Krippner said. "So I did it, and I've regretted it ever since."

Hensey herself had no such qualms, even though she admittedly knew little about how to prepare for the competition when she registered. In fact, Sunday's mother of all triathlons will be her first triathlon ever.

"I don't advise it, but I just like to jump into the biggest thing possible," she said.

Hensey has a history of such decisions: In the summer of 2005, she made a spur-of-the-moment decision to go to South America and work with sea turtles for two-and-a-half weeks.

And in 2006, she and Krippner took an eight-day hiking trip to Yellowstone and hiked 15 to 20 miles every day (Krippner had only planned on 10), with 60-pound packs on their backs.

But the Ironman is their biggest challenge by far. To finish the race, you have to train at least the entire summer beforehand, and many competitors train for a year, said UW Triathlon Team president Bill Martin.

Although Krippner later said he doesn't exactly "regret" his decision, his whole life has been sucked into the preparation.

"Training for it was ungodly difficult," he said.

Krippner spent at least 20 hours a week working out, on top of the 50 hours a week he put in at his construction-company internship. He would go to work at 6 a.m., then train after he got off at 4 or 5 p.m., sometimes doing two workouts a day. His longest run was 18 miles, and he got up to 50 biking.

"You can't just skip a day," he said. "It's like a class, except on the final you practically die."

Hensey, true to her nature, followed a more "haphazard" regimen by simply doing what she felt like each day.

Whenever she got sick of swimming, biking or running, Hensey would spend a few hours playing tennis, basketball or soccer. When she went canoeing in the Boundary Waters, she counted it as a workout.

Both Hensey and Krippner are confident they'll finish the race, but aren't sure how they'll place.

"I will finish, unless I break a leg or something," Krippner said. "It's just a question of when."

Hensey and Krippner will stick together during the race only if they happen to meet up, Hensey said.

"That's his only goal … to beat me, so I'll probably let him win," she said.

Krippner said when he finally crosses the finish line, he won't care who he beat.

Martin, who did the race last year, knows the feeling.

"Crossing the finish line of the Ironman is unlike anything else that I've done," he said.

Check out some additional commentary by Badger Herald features editor Alec Luhn in The City Within.

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