Greg Avery has been competing in triathlons ever since he graduated from Northwood High School in 2010.
Now, the 22-year-old University of Michigan senior chemical engineering major is ready to step up to the big time – competing in a full Ironman event.
Avery will compete in his first Ironman on Sept. 28 at Cedar Point. Ironman events consist of, in order, a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile marathon.
Northwood High School grad
“I’d like to think I’ll do well on the bike,” Avery said. “I’ve been putting in a lot of biking miles this summer, 150 miles per week. I go on the trail between Elmore and Fremont, just go back and forth. The swim, hopefully that shouldn’t be too bad, even though it’s open water (Lake Erie). There will be a lot of other people. I should finish in about an hour and 10 minutes.
“Normally, I like running the most. I started out as a runner and enjoyed that the most out of my other sports. Since that (event) is last and I’ll already be seven hours in by that point, it will be a little draining by that point and I’ll want to get food in me and hope I’m not out of energy entirely.”
Avery, his senior class valedictorian at Northwood, will graduate from Michigan in April with a degree in chemical engineering. He said he’ll be looking to get a job in the energy industry or with a chemical company. He carries a 3.34 GPA and is on the Dean’s List.
His mind and body will certainly be put to the test next month.
A distance runner (800, mile, two-mile) at Northwood, Avery competed in cross country for three years before giving up that sport and track as a senior.
“I took my senior year off in both sports to train for my first real triathlon,” Avery said. “I ran one the summer after my senior year of high school. I didn’t do too bad, but I’ve gotten a lot better since then.”
Avery said he has competed in about nine triathlons since high school. The Cedar Point Ironman has a hefty (around $600) entrance fee, so he’s hoping he gets his money’s worth.
He ran in the Detroit marathon two years ago and finished in a little over four hours.
“I could probably do a lot better now,” said Avery, who is 6-foot-2, 200 pounds. “I don’t even look at rankings. I think my time was 4:06 or something. I know I’m faster than that now.”
Avery is a lifeguard at the Oregon YMCA and swims two or three miles – for about 90 minutes - before his shift at the pool. He puts in his road work at Pearson Park, averaging 16 miles on most of his runs.
“It takes about two hours, two or three days a week,” he said, adding that he doesn’t have any expectations about where he will finish, overall or in his age group, next month.
“Last year when I did the half Ironman at Cedar Point, I finished,” Avery said. “Even though I was physically dead, I said I want to do a full Ironman now. I’m hoping to finish in 12 hours. It would probably be stupid not to be nervous.”
Avery said finding a training partner, in Northwood or Ann Arbor, Mich., is next to impossible.
“There aren’t many people my age around where I live who want to do an Ironman,” he said. “There are enough swimmers I could train with, but not enough people who would want to run that distance or bike that distance.”