GREENWICH, Conn. – Greenwich’s Steve Kurczewski couldn't say no to one of his triathletes to run for a good cause.
The fact that Saturday’s New York Ironman is the first in the "City That Never Sleeps" also pushed him to take on the challenge.
“An athlete I’m coaching said they have a charity spot for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation,’’ said Kurczewski, who is a principal at Elite Health Services in Greenwich and the Greenwich Triathlon Club coach. “I never raced for a charity before. It seemed like a good cause.” Kurczewski's fund-raising page is online.
Kurczewski has completed two previous Ironmans, in 2008 in Louisville and in 2010 in Lake Placid. Saturday’s race starts at 7 a.m. with a 2.4-mile swim in the Hudson River. That is followed by a 112-mile bike ride on the Palisades Parkway. The race finishes with a 26.2-mile run that starts in New Jersey, crosses the George Washington Bridge and finishes in Manhattan.
The lure of New York was one of the selling points for Kurczewski.
“Being an inaugural event, I think they’ll put out all the stops and it will be well organized,’’ he said. “Not having to travel is huge. The logistical challenges can be quite daunting. To be part of a race that is being run for the first time is cool, too.”
His previous two Ironmans have been divergent experiences. In his first, he pushed too hard on the bike and paid for it later.
“For an Ironman, you have to exercise restraint and not ride the bike as well as you can,’’ Kurczewski said. “It’s the most difficult part to execute. In Lake Placid, I nailed it and had a great marathon.”
Kurczewski has been a personal trainer for 15 years. His previous athletic experience was in far different sports. He played rugby at Cornell and was a former football player. He also was a competitive weightlifter. Those sports have fallen into the background as he has turned to triathlons.
“What I enjoy the most is the lifestyle, the daily discipline that’s required for 8-12 months to complete an Ironman,’’ Kurczewski said. “The rigorous lifestyle is attractive to me. And from a sports science perspective, there’s not a lot of research on the best way to train. It’s a mixture of art and science to get yourself mentally prepared to do this.”
Kurczewski will race in New York with two athletes he is coaching and three more from the Greenwich Triathlon Club, where he is the vice president. Come race day, however, it’s an individual show.
“Now, they’re on their own,’’ Kurczewski said. “They have their race strategy and they’re prepared. Now, it’s a matter of execution. On race day, it’s not a race to see who goes the fastest. It’s about who can manage their day, and not slow down at the end.”