Springfield College Director of Marketing and Communications Steve Roulier could not believe it. His mind raced as he rushed around frantically getting ready. How could he oversleep on today of all days?
The year was 2003, and it was the morning of Roulier’s first-ever triathlon in Greenfield, Mass. His alarm failed to go off, so he had slept in, and was now unsure of if he would even make it in time. All of his hard work and training would go to waste if he could not get to the starting line before the race began.
“I’m driving as fast as I could. I get there like five minutes before my very first triathlon, and luckily there were problems with the river,” Roulier said.
The problems with the river water forced the triathlon to cancel the swimming portion of the event, which gave Roulier enough time to get ready for the start of the biking portion. That was 10 years ago and approximately 36.8 miles from Springfield. This week, Roulier finds himself approximately 4,993.9 miles away in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii preparing to race on October 12 at the 35th annual IRONMAN World Championship.
“This is it. This is the Olympics, the Super Bowl, the World Series of our sport,” Roulier said. “This is where all the world’s best are.”
Although Roulier has been running in triathlons for 10 years, he never expected to qualify for the World Championship. He ran a blazing time of 10 hours, 24 minutes, a personal record (by 36 minutes) at a qualifying triathlon at Mont Tremblant, Canada on August 18 to finish third in his age group of 50-54. The top six finishers in his age group got bids to race in Kailua-Kona. Roulier was heading to participate in the event that he had watched for years on the TV screen.
“I used to watch the IRONMAN World Championships on TV on NBC every year and just thought it was amazing what they did, and I [was] like, ‘Hey, maybe I can do this triathlon stuff,’ and it will prolong and extend my years of working out,” Roulier said.
Since arriving in Hawaii, it has not been solely about having fun in the sun, as Roulier still had to focus on his final preparations for the race this Saturday. He has, however, been soaking in the entire experience, including representing the United States.
“Last night was the Athletes Parade of Nations and I got to participate with the United States, and it’s just like the Olympic Ceremony,” Roulier said.
Roulier will be joined by his 19-year-old daughter Stephanie, who is flying down for the weekend to cheer him on. Despite being overjoyed with the opportunity just to participate in the IRONMAN World Championship, Roulier is not just there to have a good time. Come race time, he will be ready.
“Obviously my No. 1 goal is just to finish,” Roulier said. “But…I’m going to be competing on race day.”
For the full story of Roulier’s experience, see next week’s edition of The Springfield Student.