After a 15-year break from triathlon events, due in part to pursue a passion for windsurfing, Jim Rantala is back at it. This time it’s the challenge of the Ironman that has piqued his interest. His goal: to qualify for the “big one,” the Kona Ironman. Jim says this would be the biggest event of his athletic career.
So what does it take to rise to this level of competition for an athlete in his early 60s? Many of Jim’s answers are the qualities we think of including possessing a competitive spirit, a singularity of focus, making sacrifices, and having the determination to finish what you start. Yet he is quick to point out that these qualities alone will not get the job done.
“I couldn’t do this alone,” says Jim. “You have to have help.”
Jim’s wife Brenda has helped him stay focused and has served as a one-woman race support team. He also credits the personal coaching he’s had along the way that includes a day-by-day training prescription, as well as investing in the right equipment, having a professional bicycle fitting and eating the correct diet.
Competing in Ironman triathlons is not something done on a whim. It takes patience and a willingness to stick with a training regimen over days, months and years. Even for the most talented the sport demands hard work. But Jim emphasizes that “having a life, having fun in other ways outside of training” is also important. Jim is a testament to how it all pays off. This year he qualified for Kona and heads to Hawaii this fall to compete.