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St. Croix 'Ironman' Wins Spot in World Championship

Oct. 1, 2008 — DeWayne Smith will return to St. Croix Thursday with something no one from the Virgin Islands has ever brought home before: a place in the Ironman 70.3 world championship.
But he's not planning any kind of party or event to celebrate his achievement. Instead, he has to get to work preparing for the next stage, a showdown with some of the greatest athletes in the world.
Smith, a personal trainer at The Rehabilitation Center at Beeston Hill, won a place in the Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3 with his showing at competition Sept. 21 in Cancun, Mexico. He becomes the first athlete to represent the territory in this championship.
The Ironman is one of the first, and arguably the hardest, of the "extreme sports." It's a grueling triathlon, a contest for people who find that running a marathon isn't really hard enough. In an Ironman 70.3, the athletes swim 1.2 miles, get out of the water and jump on bicycles for a 56-mile ride, and cap it off with a 13.1 mile run. A total of 70.3 miles, which last year's winner completed in 3:42:33. That's three hours, not three days.
Smith is a St. Croix native who attended college at Concord University in West Virginia, where he ran on the school's track team while studying athletic training and sports medicine. After graduating in 2004, he was looking for a way to continue competing when he came across the Ironman.
"I've always been really active," Smith said. "After I graduated I couldn't competitively run track anymore, so I decided I'm going to try the triathlon."
This is just the third year of competition for the 27-year-old Smith, only his second competing seriously. He's happy to have qualified for the world championship, but realizes he has a long way to go. In May in a competition on St. Croix, he competed the 70.3 miles in 5 hours, 20 minutes. In Cancun he recorded a personal record of five hours.
"I'm starting to get better," Smith said Monday in a telephone interview from Cancun. "I'm not going in expecting to win this championship. There are going to be professionals in every age group. It's going to be a learning experience for me. I would like to break my own personal best."
His training schedule varies depending on how close to a competition he is, but in the next month he'll be on the road or in the water at least 15 to 24 hours a week.
Smith said he's best in the running and bike riding.
"It's a tossup," he said. "I'm becoming an all-arounder."
It's the swimming portion of his race where Smith said needs the most work.
"I only have a month left" to get ready for the championship in Clearwater, Fla., he said. "There are just a few things that I need to tweak out and correct."
A variety of local and national sponsors — including Plaza Extra and the St. Croix law firm of Colianni & Colianni — have been very supportive, Smith said.
After winning the coveted spot in the championships Smith took a week off, resting up in Cancun. But now he's ready to get to work to prepare for his newest challenge.
"It's back to the usual grind," he said.
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