By Richard Rhinehart
Cambridge, Maryland, September 28, 2015 – Five athletes from the United States and Canada are scheduled to compete in the October 3 IRONMAN Maryland triathlon on Maryland’s Eastern Shore as members of the World T.E.A.M. Sports team.
Joining the national non-profit’s first IRONMAN team are Canadian Armed Forces veteran Michael Cotts from Fredericton, New Brunswick; Canadian Armed Forces veteran Tom Power from Hanwell, New Brunswick; April Godlewski of Arlington, Virginia; Daniel Immeker of Great Mills, Maryland; and Dr. Michael Schiff from Menlo Park, California.
The IRONMAN Maryland features a 2.4-mile swim in the Choptank River, a 112-mile bicycle ride through the scenic Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and a 26.2 mile run to the historic community of Cambridge. The first IRONMAN race in the Mid-Atlantic region, the event is in its second year.
As with all World T.E.A.M. Sports events and activities, the organization’s IRONMAN team is diverse and includes both veterans and civilians, able-bodied and disabled athletes.
Michael Cotts is a 25-year military veteran, who was retired from active-duty service owing to a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress. Having served in Bosnia for three tours, Kuwait, Somalia and Afghanistan, Cotts has participated in several World T.E.A.M. Sports events, including the 2014 CanAm Veterans Challenge bicycle and hand cycle ride from Ottawa, Ontario to Washington, D.C. He also participated in the 2014 Adventure Team Challenge in Colorado’s high mountains. Cotts keeps active by daily exercise at a gym, running, bicycling and “doing the odd triathlon.”
Tom Power is another 25-year military veteran who served as a flight engineer. He was medically released from active-duty service owing to Post-Traumatic Stress. Following his discharge, Power was introduced to triathlons. “This has been a life saver for me,” Power reported, attributing the physical fitness to improving his mental health and well-being. Training for events on a daily basis, Power reports the sport gives him “a sense of purpose.” Looking forward to the IRONMAN Maryland, Power said that his “dream is about to come true” to participate in an IRONMAN.
Serving as a governmental consultant in Virginia, April Godlewski reports she participants in “long distance events to push myself beyond what I think is possible, and to inspire those around me to do more and be active. I believe that your mind and body are capable of incredible things when you set out to accomplish a goal.” A participant in Face of America bicycle rides from World T.E.A.M. Sports, Godlewski also competed in Disney’s Goofy Challenge, a “combination of a half marathon and a full marathon over the course of two days.” When offered an opportunity to compete in the IRONMAN Maryland, Godlewski took action. “With very little swimming experience, I signed up for lessons,” she reported. “Just two months later, I completed my first 2.4 mile open water swim. A few weeks later I went on to complete my first triathlon.”
38-year-old Daniel Immeker from Great Mills, Maryland is married with two “wonderful and energetic young boys.” Competing in triathlons for the last eight years, Immeker reports that he has been passionate about outdoor sports since he was a young boy in Iowa. “Cycling and triathlons have been a way for me to stay young, healthy and continue to compete,” he said. Pursuing outdoors and athletics in college, he worked as a strength and conditioning coach following graduation, including service with the Colorado Rockies Major League Baseball team. Immeker currently serves as a Naval Aerospace and Operational Physiologist stationed at Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Maryland.
Michael “IronMike” Schiff has extensive experience in endurance sports and triathlons. Competing eight times at the IRONMAN Hawaii, three times at the ITU World Championship, two times in the Hawaii Ultraman three-day race, Schiff reports that he was “almost competent” at triathlons. Today, however, he reports he is a different man. “First, a closed-head injury from a bicycle crash, then a heart operation, and my VO2-max is half its former self.” At a 2014 long-distance triathlon in Penticon, British Columbia, he was the last person to cross the finish line before the 17-hour cut-off. This August, he improved on his time, finishing a full two minutes prior to the 17-hour cut-off. The Menlo Park, California resident reports that the IRONMAN Maryland is a “kind of Judy Garland thing. The Wizard of Oz has been good to me, fixing me up with a new brain, and then a new heart. Now I’m hoping he’ll give me a new dose of courage — enough courage to show up at the starting line once more, and battle my way back to the Emerald City. My ruby-red slippers are already packed.”
The Maryland race offers qualifying spots to the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii October 10.