LAKE PLACID - For most, volunteering at an Ironman Triathlon - an intensely grueling race that requires, within a 17-hour time limit, swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and then, for good measure and without any sort of break in between, finishing up by running a marathon - isn't probably going to make them want to participate in the event in the future.
After all, seeing racer after racer after racer struggle through the competition, each of them reaching their physical and mental limit, and then far exceeding it, can't be especially encouraging to the psyche of the would-be ironman who may still be deciding if he's up to the challenge.
For most, that's the case.
Southwestern graduate Dan Moore is seen completing the marathon portion of the Ironman Lake Placid last month.
Dan Moore, however, is not most.
Instead, the 2002 Southwestern Central School graduate who last year volunteered for the event in place of a colleague that had to back out at the last moment, saw those struggles, saw those people pushing themselves to the edge and said to himself, "I've got to do this."
"Last year I helped out at the medical tent," Moore, a school psychologist and track coach at Wayland-Cohocton High School said, "and seeing all those athletes work so hard to finish, I just caught the bug.
"That's just who I am," he added of his sudden desire to race. "I love competing and I love physical activity."
So he trained, readying himself for his first-ever triathlon, and on July 22 he crossed the finish line at Lake Placid (home to the oldest Ironman Triathlon in the continental United States) in just 10:57:20, a time three minutes faster than his self-imposed goal and a time that was good enough for 155th overall out of the 2,500 total athletes that participated.
"I have never felt more pain in my life," Moore said of the race. "It was the most physically daunting competition I've ever done, but (at the finish line) my family and friends were there, and it was incredible."
The solid finish was the result of a year's worth of hard work and dedication.
"Last August I began training like a maniac," he explained. "It was tough because I would spend most of the day working (at school) and then afterwards coaching track or cross country, so my training, which had to be three or four hours a day, wouldn't start until 8 p.m."
But Moore stuck with it, running some 30 to 40 miles a week, biking and working with a local club to improve his swimming.
As a track coach and former runner at SUNY Geneseo, the running didn't worry Moore all that much. During the year of training he competed in his first marathon in Rochester and finished second overall. Rather it was the swimming that had his stomach in knots in the leadup to the race.
"The running was second nature to me," he said, "but it was the swimming that I was most nervous about because I'm not a swimmer at all. I just wanted to survive it because I knew I'd be set after that."
Moore survived the swim, which took place in Mirror Lake and is the opening leg of the race, but it wasn't easy.
"There were 2,500 people at the start and they were swimming over and on top of me," he said. "I got kicked in the nose, had my goggles fill up with water, it was hectic."
Despite the struggles, however, Moore finished the 2.4-mile course in 1:15:56, about five minutes faster than he had anticipated. He then finished the bike race in 5:47:52, 15 minutes faster than his goal, and hustled through half of the marathon before his body finally told him enough was enough.
"I hammered the bike," he said. "It was by far my strongest leg of the race, but with 13 miles left to go in the marathon my body started screaming, 'Stop!'
"I had to walk portions of it, but I willed myself to the finish and kept pushing through the pain."
While the pain was great, it wasn't enough to make him quit (he finished the marathon in 3:43:01), and it isn't enough to give him second thoughts about competing next year either.
"I'm too competitive for that," he said, "I'll be back next year."