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Just call Ryan Hunt '01 'Ironman!"

Ryan Hunt '01

Ryan Hunt '01

Meet “Ironman” Ryan Hunt ’01.

He earned the right to use the title this summer after competing in the Lake Placid Ironman Triathlon. The event consisted of swimming two 1.2-mile circuits of Mirror Lake, two 56-mile circuits on a bike, and then two 13.1-mile running loops.

Ryan completed the grueling event in 14 hours, 30 minutes and 52 seconds – and that was just 52 seconds over his goal. “Not too bad,” he says. “The hardest part was the run, just because I was worn out and my knees felt like they were going to explode.”

He finished 1,565 out of 2,758 entrants overall, and 216th in his age group.

He also met his fund-raising goal of $5,000, which was matched by his employer, Universal Plant Services, which supplies equipment to the oil and gas industry.  

And that’s the other part of Ryan’s remarkable tale: Eight years ago, he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, which causes chronic, often painful, inflammation of the colon. Ryan, who has dropped from close to 200 pounds when he was doing regular weight-lifting to a much leaner 152 pounds, controls his disease in part with medication, but mostly by eating a gluten-free diet that limits the use of processed foods and dairy products.  What he raised through the triathlon will to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

While he enjoyed the Lake Placid event – “the landscape and the people in Lake Placid are just amazing. It’s one of the most magical places on earth” – and he hopes to enter more triathlons, he says he will most likely keep it to events that are half the distance, or less, for each leg.

Ryan is now 39 years old, and lives in Mechanicsville, VA, with his wife and two children. He was a mathematics major at Alfred University.

Chuck Pollock, sports columnist for the Olean Times Herald, profiled Ryan and his achievements.