Storm Lake native completes IRONMAN event
To most people a challenge would be running a few miles after a couple of weeks of building to that point. To other people, a challenge is looking at an IRONMAN event and saying they would like to do that for their next hill to climb. For former Storm Lake resident Benjamin Ellingson, completing an IRONMAN event was his hill to climb.
Ellingson moved to Storm Lake before the start of eight grade and remained in the town until he completed high school. He left to go to Luther college in Deborah before coming back to attend Buena Vista. Through most of those years, Ellingson ran cross country and track for the Tornadoes and swam a little bit as well.
“If you were involved with me in my four years in the track program, you were part of a good team and a great program,” he said.
He remembers taking home a gold medal his senior season in the 4x800, breaking a then school record with a time of 8:01. Ellingson also helped the cross country program grow at Storm Lake.
“We went from a doormat team in the conference to a top 10 program my junior and senior years,” he recalled.
He kept running when he attended Luther’s cross country program, but found it difficult to make any headway as he competed against other college athletes. After being one of the top runners for the Tornadoes, Ellingson found himself fighting for a varsity spot with the Norse. He spent two years in Decorah and his interests began to change. He left the school and eventually came to BVU where he spent a year on the swim team and left with a degree in English.
Ellingson picked up a Masters degree and soon found himself living in Montpelier, Vermont. He received a job offer with an artist from Luther college and began to work from home at the computer. With the ability to work from home, it freed up time for Ellingson as he set his sights on training for an IRONMAN event.
“I can get done with a workout early and then go to work,” he said. “Being able to work from home gave me a spare 20 hours a week to train.”
He began to work his way up to the 140.6 event by doing two 70.3 to lead up to the biggest hill to climb, the IRONMAN event at Lake Placid, New York, on July 23rd.
“I took it slowly,” he said. “I worked myself to be able to take on the full.”
Ellingson believes that there was a point when someone exercises that they go longer than the body allows and once you get past that point, you refuel and keep going. He found himself managing his metabolism more than he did when he ran in high school.
“You have to keep your calories, liquid and electrolytes at the same rate,” he said. “As long as I kept that figured out, I can keep going forward if I set up for it.”
To aid his cause, Ellingson kept a belt with water bottles and strapped a few bottles on his bike to keep himself hydrated.
Once he crossed the finish line at Lake Placid there were tears. Not of sorrow or sadness, but the relief of finishing the event. Ellingson stated he did not push himself too hard because he wanted to survive. He never walked but the last 10 miles proved to be difficult.
“I became worn down,” he stated.
He also had the thought of “Oh my god that is over” after getting past the finish line. Ellingson didn’t find the race hard thanks to his discipline. In a six month span, he found a way to get out and train every single day outside of a few previous engagements that kept him from training.
With his challenge defeated, Ellingson isn’t sure what will come next.
“I feel like I can take on anything,” he said. “I’m glad I took this chance.”
Ben Ellingson still looks back at his days running at Storm Lake fondly even after completing such a race.
“Storm Lake set the tone for me and loving sports. It was inherent to what I did thanks to the town,” he said.