Mom and son show their iron will

Triathlon: Leslie and Joey Woehleke finish grueling event

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 09:28 am

Joey Woehleke raises his arms in celebration after finishing the grueling Subaru Ironman Canada Triathlon in Penticton in August.
Joey Woehleke raises his arms in celebration after finishing the grueling Subaru Ironman Canada Triathlon in Penticton in August.
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Subaru Ironman Canada

Split times for Joey and Leslie Woehleke at the Subaru Ironman Canada Triathlon:
Joey Woehleke: 3.8km swim - 1:19:49; 180km bike - 6:56:59; 42.2km run - 6:14:51. Total - 14:56:08
Leslie Woehleke: 3.8km swim - 1:37:57; 180km bike - 8:11:07; 42.2km run - 6:51:08. Total - 16:57:36

A mom and her son who trained all year together, were side by side when they started the Ironman Triathlon in British Columbia in late August.Joey Woehleke raises his arms in celebration after finishing the grueling Subaru Ironman Canada Triathlon in Penticton in August.

Joey Woehleke raises his arms in celebration after finishing the grueling Subaru Ironman Canada Triathlon in Penticton in August.
Photo submitted
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However, approximately 12-and-a-half hours after the starter’s gun went off at grueling race,, Leslie and Joey Woehleke were like two ships passing each other at night.

The Woehlekes completed the Subaru Ironman Triathlon, consisting of a 3.80km swim, an 180km bike ride and 42.2km run, in late August in Penticton.

“The only time I saw Joey was on the run (which was 21.1km out and 21km return),” Leslie said. “Joey was at 17 miles and I was at nine miles. We stopped, hugged and chatted for a few minutes. I told him I was so proud of how well he was doing. Then we kept chugging along. I was wishing I was on his side of the road though — heading back rather than heading out.”

The 21-year-old Joey completed his first Ironman in 14 hours and 56 minutes. Leslie, who was competing in the women’s 45-49 year old division, came in at 16 hours, 57 minutes and 36 seconds.

The Woehlekes registered for the Ironman a year ago after volunteering for the event. Leslie, who has completed two previous Ironman competitions, admitted getting to train and be with her son was the motivation for her to do it one more time.

“I was surprised Joey wanted to do it,” Leslie said. “Part of the reason he wanted to do it was to get in shape. I thought it would be a good year to train together and to accomplish things together.”

Mom was confident her boy would do it the minute he registered.

“He has seen my brother do the Ironman and both times I did it, so he knew what was involved,” Leslie said.

She realized how committed her son was when he made a large sacrifice for any young man during the 100th anniversary of The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth during the scorching heat of Alberta in July.

“That kid did not have a beer all summer long — he quit at Stampede,” Leslie said.

Joey, a 2008 graduate of Holy Trinity Academy, said his goal was just to finish.

“You have to sign up a year in advance so I said: ‘Okay, I got to start doing this,’” said Joey, a second-year Environmental Studies student at SAIT. “I did this to get in shape… I think I have lost a few pounds in the process.”

He said he wasn’t too nervous when he got into Okanagan Lake for the swim at 7 a.m.

“I was pretty calm,” Joey said. “I didn’t have trouble sleeping the night before because I felt I was ready for it. I thought it was going to be hard swimming with that many people, but I found it easier because I could keep a straight line by following people.

“Everybody told me that I would get dunked a lot, but it wasn’t that bad.”

Approximately 2,500 people were swimming.

Joey then hit his strongest part of the three disciplines, the bike ride.

“I had been training all summer in the heat and it felt really good,” Joey said of the bike ride. “It was ideal conditions.”

However, he knew the third and final leg would be the hardest part.

“I kind of walked and run for the marathon — mostly walked,” Woehleke said with a laugh. “I was getting sore, but I never thought I was going to quit. I think I have always had endurance, I did little triathlons when I was little.”

He raised his arms in celebration after crossing the finish line in Penticton, but he didn’t go to bed. He waited around, along with his dad Hans and other family members, for a couple of hours and cheered on his mom as she approached the finish line.

She needed all the inspiration she could get. Her time of 16 hours and 57.5 minutes was just under the time of 17 hours when she would have been considered a Did Not Finish (DNF) on the final results.

“I jumped in the car to go and cheer her on,” Joey said. “It was awesome at the finish line. There are hundreds of people cheering them on, especially the last ones who are coming in.”

Leslie said she tried to keep just two thoughts on her mind for 17 hours.

“Just finish and then celebrate with Joey at the finish line,” Leslie said.Joey said he was inspired by his mom’s effort and the fact this was her third Ironman triathlon.

“I’m just happy that I was able to do it too this time,” he said.

Despite the grueling training and sacrifices, they will be back next year.

However, only one of them will have to do a lot of training.

“Joey has registered, but this time, I’m just going to watch,” Leslie said with a laugh.


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