Made of iron
Like most endurance athletes, Matthew Richter started out running, and moved on to the challenge of running marathons.
Richter, a Rugby native, has taken his dedication to endurance events even further.
Running his first Ironman Triathlon on Sept. 8 in Madison, Wisc., Richter finished in a time of 11 hours, 43 minutes, 11 seconds.
A full Ironman is composed of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.
“Mentally, you just have to find things to take your mind off the ache your body is going through,” he said of the experience. “The swimming you feel like you’re carrying cinder blocks through the water by the end. Your back and legs burn for the entire bike ride. Once you start the run, you know as soon as you’re done with this, I’m finished and you get to call yourself and Ironman.”
Off the competitive field, Richter is a physician in the Navy, stationed out of Camp Legeune, N.C.
After graduating from Rugby High Schol in 2002, Richter spent a year University of Mary before transferring to North Dakota State.
It was there, where he earned an exercise science degree and worked at the student fitness center, that Richter got interested in distance running.
“Actually my boss started a marathon training group,” he said. “I ran my first marathon, the Twin Cities Marathon, in October, 2004. From there, I got the running bug and started doing 1-2 marathons a year. During medical school with all the added stress I started running more. It was more like one marathon a month, for stress relief and just to get away.”
Richter graduated from medical school, and joined the Navy, which had paid his tuition in exchange for a five-year commitment.
In year three of his service, Richter has made trips with his battalion to the
Pacific, visiting some of Japan’s most unique destinations.
He was trained as a family practitioner and in the Navy, he concentrates on force readiness.
“Making sure as many Navy soldiers as possible are ready for battle,” he said.
After becoming a certifiable marathon addict, Richter started getting interested in triathlons.
“I got started in shorter triathlons,” he said. “I’ve loved the sport from that time on. My ultimate goal was to do an Ironman. We had some extra time in deployment. We traveled a lot but I had down time to do some training. I started using 10-15 hours a week to train for the iron man. That was my opportunity to train for one of these events.”
In Madison, Richter finished the swim in 1:17, the bike portion in 6:03 and the marathon run in 4:04.
“The last 25 miles on the bike were a struggle. You go out 16 miles, do two 40 mile loops and come back. That 16 miles back was directly into the wind. You’re tired and sick of being on the bike for 5 hours and you’re going into the wind.”
He burned nearly 16,000 calories in the course of the race, and tried to at least maintain his energy level, taking in 4,000 calories with protein bars, fruit and energy drinks.
Richter, 29, barely took a break after completing the Ironman.
He ran a marathon in upstate New York on Sept. 22 and the next weekend ran the Kenai River Marathon in Alaska.
“My next goal is to complete my goal of running a marathon in every state,” he said. “Alaska was state No. 43.”
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