Worlds: ‘Kirleis Hammers Worlds!’

Printed in the North Reading Transcript (circulation: ~4000) on Thursday, September 11, 2008:

Kirleis Hammers Worlds!

Thor Kirleis (42 North St.) recently returned from competition at the August 31 World Long Course Triathlon Championship at Almere, The Netherlands. Overcoming significant challenges, Kirleis hammered the 164 kilometer, swim, bike, and run event to finish 46th of 88 internationally qualified competitors in his age group.

The obstacles began for Kirleis before even arriving in Europe when, in New York, his bicycle failed to properly change planes with him during the trip to Amsterdam. The bike was misrouted through Atlanta and didn’t show up in The Netherlands until three days later.

Relaxing after the bike’s eventual arrival, Kirleis was acclimating to the local area and touring with his recently-wed bride, Heather, when he contracted food poisoning only a few days prior to the championship. Two days spent in his hotel room would resolve the problem, but left him somewhat dehydrated and weakened for the upcoming race.

Finally arriving at the event with all necessary equipment and health issues resolved, Kirleis was ready to race. The swim portion of the race, conducted in Gooimeer Lake, east of Amsterdam, proved both rougher and longer than expected with most athletes agreeing the course was significantly longer than the 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) advertised. Waves and strong currents whipped up by the ever-present Dutch winds added to the difficulty of the extended swim which Kirleis called “the longest swim of my life”.

After fixing a rear flat tire on his bike just prior to the start of the race, Kirleis suffered a second flat just yards into the bike leg. Still wet from the swim, he completed a quick on-course tube change before emerging onto the 130 kilometer (81 mile) bike route through the polders – the low lying reclaimed lands of the Dutch countryside. Buffeted by the gusty winds which blew over the treeless fields, Kirleis worked hard to maintain an aerodynamic position and his goal pace on the bike. Having emerged from the swim in 66th position and even after dealing with the flat tire, Kirleis’ bike performance was good enough to move him up to 62nd place as he entered the run, his strongest event.

Throughout the two loop 30 kilometer (19 mile) run portion of the race, Kirleis steadily improved his standing. “If the race had been longer, I’d have moved up even more!” said Kirleis, who routinely trains in town with the Ipswich River Road Runners.

The shouts of “Go USA!” supported him throughout the race. “How cool was it to hear U-S-A in my honor?” remarked Kirleis who took great pride in having represented his country. Provided with a flag by his wife, Kirleis cleared the final hurdle as he completed his patriotic duties and raised it high while triumphantly crossing the finish line.

2 Responses to Worlds: ‘Kirleis Hammers Worlds!’

  1. Brian Keno says:

    Great story, “God of Thunder!”

    Battling on with lost bikes, sickness and choppy seas and flat tires…the warrior prevails for TEAM USA!

  2. Cary C. Keno says:

    Way to go Thor, favorite superhero!

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