Double the effort: Newnan resident Steve Hendricks medals in first attempt at Double Ironman event

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Newnan resident Steve Hendricks, center, joins his 'support staff' including Sarah Banta, daughter Gayle-Anne, wife Katie and daughters Kaylin and Bonnie Hendricks after completing his first Double Ironman event.

By CHRIS GOLTERMANN cgoltermann@newnan.com Steve Hendricks was used to seeing thousands of participants with him at Ironman events, having taken on such occasional challenges for more than a decade. But the 52-year-old Newnan resident found himself grouped among a little over 30 athletes' at last month's Double IRON Triathlon held just outside Tampa.
A hair over 30 hours later, he picked up a third-place effort and a bronze medal in his age category following a swim of 4.8 miles, a bike ride of 224 and a run of another 52.4 in his first attempt at the rare double Ironman event held at Flatwoods Park in Thonotosassa on Feb. 24-25. Hendricks finished with a total time of 30 hours, 1 minute and 30 seconds. "I wanted to take it to that next level and see what I could do," Hendricks said. "It wasn't so much the stresses on my body, but it was different in that it was more of a total body fatigue. It completely drains your reserves of glycogen." Runners often refer to the phenomenon of glycogen depletion as 'hitting the wall.' Getting through the overnight competition also meant having a support team made up of family members including Hendricks' wife Katie and daughters Gayle-Ann, Kaylin and Bonnie. Over the 30 hours, he went through numerous bottles of water, 10 sports drinks, three liters of uncarbonated soda, two peanut butter sandwiches, 10 power gels, seven cans of chicken soup "and lots of ice," Hendricks added. "I couldn't do it without them," he said. The support group, which also included family friend Sarah Banta, required them to make several trips to the store or local hotel to re-stock and heat soup to allow Hendricks to eat during the 30 hours in competition. The event, held by USA Ultra Triathlon, featured native athletes from eight countries as well as residents from at least a dozen states. They ranged in age from 20-year-old Ben Murphy of South Carolina to 59-year-old Karen Alexeev of Florida. Four, including Hendricks, were from Georgia. The bike event was broken down into 31 laps and a final run of 30 laps. Hendricks finished the run in 2:33:55, the biking in 14:03:40 and the run in 12:41:03. Hendricks, who is the Engineering/Technology Manager for the Lumber division of Georgia-Pacific, had already participated in at least four Iron Man events as well as 15 marathons including the Boston Marathon, the 40-mile Uwaharrie Mountain Trail run in North Carolina and the Ridges Resort 5K open-water swim that begins in Hiawassee and ends in Hayesville, N.C. In addition to putting in what he estimated was 24-25 hours of training per week, Hendricks found himself trying to adapt to the length of the double-triathlon. "On Saturday's I'd start training at eight p.m. and go until about four or five a.m to stay up through the night," he said. Hendricks was also relegated to swimming and biking during much of his training due to a stress fracture in his foot. "I couldn't run for four to six weeks during that time," he said. Running, however, has become as much a passion after picking up the activity in his mid 30s when one of his daughters became involved in cross country during middle school. He initially dropped 40 pounds as he began his interest with both 5K and 10K events. "I just get a satisfaction from it," Hendricks said, bluntly. "I enjoy being challenged by it."


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