By Lonnie Huhman,
When thinking about competing in the upcoming International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Triathlon Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland, Michael Wendorf said he’s honored to be part of the team and looks forward to going against some of the best.
Wendorf, 61, who is also the president of the Dexter Community Schools Board of Education, will be competing as a member of Team USA in the standard or Olympic distance world triathlon championship.
The triathlon consists of three athletic disciplines combined into a single event. It starts with a 1500 meter open water swim, then transitions into a 40 kilometer bicycle race or time trial in which athletes are not permitted to draft off one another, and then it transitions to a ten kilometer foot race.
Wendorf said the clock only stops when an athlete crosses the finish line.
“My realistic expectation is to finish the race having done my best,” he said. “We are taking a team of 15 men and 15 women in each division. Other countries from around the world will be doing the same. The quality of the competition is a bit intimidating. But I have competed at the international level before so I will try to remain calm and just do the best that I can.”
He earned his qualifying slot in Cleveland last year.
“I have competed in Triathlon for many years,” Wendorf said. “I specialize in long distance triathlon, the so-called Ironman distance. Last year I competed in four Ironman events including the Ironman 70.3 world championship in South Africa where I finished 18th. But Ironman distance triathlon is not an Olympic sport and I wanted to try to qualify for the Olympic distance world championship in a pre-Olympic year. So I raced in Cleveland both last year and this year and earned a slot. I am looking forward to competing with the best triathletes in the world in Switzerland.”
He said he’s been preparing by swimming, bicycling and running in a training program developed by the national team coaches and further modified by his own coach, Christo Landry.
“In a typical day I will train in at least two of the three disciplines,” he said. “The volume has been manageable especially compared to years when I have done Ironman training.”
The competition and trip is also eventful in another way.
“Racing in Switzerland is also special for me because I was an exchange student in Switzerland in 1976-77,” Wendorf said. “My Swiss host family has never seen me race. I am excited to see my host siblings and most of all my now elderly Swiss Mother, Beatrice Imahorn who has always treated me like one of her children.”
After the race in Lausanne, he said he will have a chance to visit his family in the beautiful Valais/Wallis canton of Switzerland before heading to Munich and Berlin, Germany.
He’s also looking forward to representing his country.
The ITU is the international governing body for the sport of Triathlon and a member of the International Olympic Committee.
Wendorf said the national federation, USA Triathlon or USAT, is a member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee. The USAT has an annual national championship and most recently this was in Cleveland.
“For me, it’s an honor to be named to the team and to represent my country,” he said. “I hope to have a positive experience from the opening parade of athletes to the closing ceremony and not just focus on one race on one day.”
The Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland are on Sept. 1.