Meet the Team: 2011 Arizona

150 150 Rich Strauss

TeamEN takes on Arizonain the Arizona desert!  Looks to be a challenging weather day but the team is ready to make it happen.  This is a favorite event for many of our racers and they can’t wait to light this firecracker.

Meet a few of them below.

Terry Olivas

TeamEN ArizonaRace Captain

My name is Terry Olivas and I’m a 40-year-old heart surgeon from Anchorage, Alaska.  I have been with Endurance Nation for 2 years and, thanks to them, I’m well-prepared for another race.  This is going to be my second ironman.  I raced Arizona last year but many factors left me feeling frustrated despite a fairly well-executed first ironman.  I am back this year for redemption with hopes of running a clean race to my utmost potential.  It has been a long year with a job change and move from North Dakota to Alaska, so I’m very excited to have a great race.  As always, I’ll be joined by my awesome wife, Peggy, and many family and friends who are making the trip.

John Stark

Danville, CA (San Francisco Bay Area)

Endurance Nation Race Director 

Well, here we go.  After a long season being your race director it is now my turn to execute on a race day.  Unfortunately, it will be a swim, bike, and WALK for me.  My left knee finally screamed “NO MAS” about 6 weeks ago. So I am now officially an AquaVelo dude.  My goal for Arizona this year is to simply “have fun with my fitness.”  My “One Thing” is to high five as many volunteers as I can and to cheer on as many athletes (EN and non-EN) along the course as I can.  Especially during those late hours when the death march is happening.  OK, that is Two Things.  🙂

About me:  I am 47, a stay-at-home-dad, married to the best wife ever, Cheryl, and we have a 9 year old son, Nolan.  We live about 45 minutes east of San Francisco.   I have been an EN member since October of 2008.  I have completed IM CdA 2x (2006 and 2009), completed 12+ Half Ironman’s, completed ultra running events up to 50 miles, finished 5 marathons, and done countless shorter distance events.  I run the local Cub Scouts, oversee technology for the elementary school foundation (hardware side), love to work in the yard, a computer technology hobbyist, and sell other peoples crap on eBay.  In my previous life I was an International Marketing Executive with a focus on Asia with offices in Hong Kong, Makati (Philippines), and Sydney (Australia).

This was my first year as EN Race Director and learned a lot.  I am already ramping for the 2012 season and I hope to be able to support TeamEN even more in the coming year.

Rock on!

David Ambrose

My name is David Ambrose.  Married with two daughters living in Ojai, California.

I am the chief financial officer of a small regional managed care health plan in SoCal.  AZ will be my 4th IM distance race (first time at AZ) and my first IM after a 2 year break from this distance.  After AZ, I will again be taking at least a two year break again from this distance, though I will keep busy with lots of cycling events and shorter course triathlons.  In AZ I will be joined by my wife and two daughters, who guarantee to provide me an extra boost of motivation when they spot me on the run.  My youngest daughter is very excited to be part of this adventure.  I’ve been with EN since December 2008 and have made tremendous fitness and performance gains over the last three years.  In AZ, given the course dynamics (assuming no weird weather implications and other intangibles outside my contro)l, my FTP and running being much greater than 2 years ago — I have a very good opportunity to have an IM PR time — possibly a very large PR, though I do not take this for granted at all.  If I can demonstrate to others than one can get faster with age, then I will have a big smile. My fantasy is to converge with some EN teammates on the run, form a group dynamic, and we all motor along taking turns leading our little pack.  That would be sweet!  For those of you volunteering and cheering on the team,  thank you very much.  Every little cheer out of energy will be absorbed by the athletes and utilized allowing everyone to have an awesome day.

Scott Alexander

Started tris in 2004, never ran more than 1/4 mile in my life until 2003. Born and raised in NorCal, moved to Dallas TX 9.5 years ago for job/promotion. Would like to get back to California.
6th Ironman® start; IMFL2006, IMAZ2007 (when in April), Coeur d’Alene2008, IMFL2008, Coeur d’Alene2009 (DNF), IMAZ2011.
EN member since April 2008.
Goal: always a new PR! Last Arizona time was 13:51, best IM time (IMFL2008) 13:06
First thing I’m doing post-IM: finding a cold Guinness or two to enjoy!
First thing I’m doing when I get back to ‘reality’: finding a new job, hopefully something on the West Coast, and in the sporting industry (anyone have contacts for me???).

Paul Stone

Paul stone from Dallas Tx.  I am 38 and in my second year with EN.  I have enjoyed the journey and can honestly say that after getting sick and losing 8 pounds the morning of IM CDA last year I only survived the entire day because of the execution advice of RnP on race day.  This year I come more prepared and educated than before.  My wife Lisa, my sons Ethan and Everett will be there as well as my parents.  We cannot wait to meet more of the team and complete the day.  See you guys on the road! Let’s all have the day we planned. EXECUTE. Then back to the pain cave.

Matt Samojeden

Matt Samojeden, 55 years young and Live in St Louis MO.  Third year doing Triathlons after being away from the sport for over 20 years.  This is my 1st IM AZ, my second IM this year and 6th IM. This is my third season with EN.  I’m a business development executive for Hubbell, a large electrical equipment manufacture. The job has a significant amount of travel which makes getting the training done an added challenge at times.  My wife Sandra of 23 years is into Nature and wildlife photography.  So when I not training, I get to be Sherpa and carry the heavy gear.

My goals for IM AZ this year is for a run PB!  I hope my legs show up and don’t cramp in the cold water swim!  Looking forward to meeting all at the race.

Andrew Kantor

I am excited to say that Arizona is my first IM.  My journey started 4 years ago when I was asked to compete in a triathlon relay team for my company as the runner.  I decided that day I completed the relay that next year that I would do my first Triathlon so my triathlon career began.  So it began…I did my first year of Tri’s on my mountain bike, bought a road bike in 2009 and completed IMKS in 2010, and signed up for Arizona in November 2010 when I volunteered at Arizona .  I have a very supportive wife (Cynthia ) and three extremely supportive children (Allie (8), Trev (6), and Will Scottie (3) who have been very understanding during the EN training plan.  I was brought to the Haus by Alex Tasic who helped me with some of my first swim lessons in Kansas…thanks Alex!!!!  I am very excited and ready for the IM adventure!!!!

David Lesh

M31 – Sacramento, CA

This is my first season doing triathlons. I purchased my first real bike in August 2010, had only ever jogged as far as 10k, and never swam for real until I joined EN in October 2010 after my first sprint triathlon. From there I went on to complete multiple Olympic distance triathlons and a half Ironman® (Vineman), getting faster and more confident with each race. Arizona will be my first attempt at the iron distance. My journey from absolute beginner to Ironman® hopeful has been challenging in many ways, but has also been one of the most enjoyable and enlightening years of my life. My wife Katie will be joining me at the race and has been my greatest supporter since I started this crazy triathlon game. I am super excited to meet and race with members of team EN that have been with me on this journey.

Jennifer Eckert

Hi, my name is Jennifer Eckert.  I’m 58 years old and have been racing triathlon for 20 years. My husband and I combined families and were responsible for the raising of our 3 children, all of whom are 34 and up now! I also have 3 grandchildren.
My first triathlon was a sprint distance in the early 90’s.  I caught the bug and increased my racing as the years came and went.  In my early 50’s I started bike racing on a women’s developmental team.  Crits, TT’s and road races.  It was a positive experience where I made some lifelong friends and learned some valuable lessons, (like racing against 20 year old college athletes is tough!!)  After getting taken out in a race I decided I would go back to the more civilized sport of triathlon.    Arizonawill be my 4th Ironman.  I didn’t jump into Ironman® and did my first in 2006 at 53 years of age.  I had watched my husband, who is my faithful training partner, supporter and biggest fan do many Ironman® races before I decided to take the plunge.  I retired from management in the insurance claim industry 3 years ago and have plenty of time to train and sleep now!   My other Ironman® races include Florida, Coeur D’alene and Canada.  Other memorable races completed were Pacific Grove, Alcatraz, Vineman and Tritons in Bozeman, Mt.
I’m looking forward to racing in Arizona, but will miss toeing the line my SO, Mike.  He had to withdraw due to an injury.  But he will be out there all day long cheering me on with words of encouragement which is the best!  I’m also looking forward to meeting new friends of Team EN.

Scott Dinhofer

Hey all! This will be my third IM start having done Arizona last November & IMKY this past August. I am a divorced father of three girls (10,10 & 12 (yes Twins)) I was getting into marathons around the time I got married in ’95. Married life, commuting an hour or so each way to work and kids took their toll on me and I topped the scales a few years ago at 206. After getting separated a friend recommended I do an ironman, yes straight up, go for it! I was already down a bit in weight & was following a book he recommended and into my training for IMAZ. A little over a year ago, I was poking around the internet when I found a video of two guys preaching their four keys of ironman execution. This led me to the EN website, a purchase of the Long Course Tri Ebook which I devoured and here I am.  I am now about 170 which is 17 lbs lighter than a year ago. Looking forward to catching up with EN friends and meeting new ones in Tempe and executing a good race.

Dominic Malleo

I’m Dominic Malleo from Morristown, NJ.  Arizona will be my 5th IM and 4th with Endurance Nation.  I’m pictured with my wife and best friend, Tracie our 7 year old daughter and 5 year old triplets!  This will be the first time since 2007 that my kids will be traveling with me to a race and I’m very excited to share the experience them.  My “one thing” is a PR (sub 11:26).  But no matter what the clock says, this is my last IM and I plan to enjoy the day, high five and kiss the fam as often as I see them, and shout out as many “Go EN”s as I can.  A special thanks to Rich & Patrick – your plans, tips and execution techniques have helped me get the most out of my fitness year after year.  I look forward to seeing the team out there.  Good luck and execute like the race ninjas you are.  Go EN!

Stephanie Stevens

Ready for IMAZ….bring it on!  This is my fourth year of triathlon, and my second Ironman® (I did Coeur d’Alene in June).  I come from a long athletic background, but I was a Division I springboard/platform diver in college, and had never done cardio exercise for more than about 45 minutes at a time prior to triathlon.  My nerves are not as high as they were for Coeur d’Alene, so that is a good thing.  I’m from the Denver area and found EN after trying out some local triathlon teams and not being able to make it to many team practices due to my full work schedule (I’m a pediatrician in private practice and work entirely too much).  EN has been the best thing for me – I am running faster than I ever have (ok, that’s not saying a whole lot).  I will be at the race with a few Denver tri-buddies and my college roommate.  My husband and two teenage boys should be in the “audience”, as well as one of my best friends from childhood.  Glad to have tons of support on the course.  Really looking forward to seeing those of you I met in Coeur d’Alene and Aspen and meeting the rest of you.  I don’t have a lot of specific time goals for this race, mostly just goals related to my execution.  But, I am hoping to finish before my family has to leave for the airport to catch a 10pm flight.  Give me a shout-out or a high-five on the course…team EN is the best!

Mike Davis

I am Mike Davis, 46 years old and live in Colorado Springs with my wife Mary and two daughters Brandi and Cassie.  This is my 3rd year in triathlon and Arizona with be my first Ironman. After running track and cross country in high school I didn’t do much in athletics until I started cycling about 10 years ago.  After a rough start to the year fighting foot issues and then a self inflicted shoulder injury in a crash I am coming to Arizona feeling healthy with no goals other than to have fun and finish the race.  Mary and Cassie will be with me in AZ to cheer me for race day (and enjoy the much better weather)!

Mark Ulfig

Age 55, Married to Isabelle, father to Tyler and two precocious dogs, Elliot and Chief.  Arizonawill be my 6th Ironman® after completing Texas 2011, Wisconsin 2007, Louisville 2008, Lake Placid 2009 and Cozumel 2009.

Born and raised in the Detroit area now living in San Antonio.  Avid outdoorsman and lifelong learner, attended University of Michigan Engineering School, University of Houston Business School and Wayne State Law School.

Isabelle Ulfig

51 years old, family is Mark (hubby) and Tyler (son)  & our two big dogs. Presently living in San Antonio — though my hometown is Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Arizonawill be my 14th (!) Ironman® race. Previous IM races include Texas this past May, Canada (3x), Wisconsin (2x), Vineman, Lake Placid (3x), Coeur d’Alene, Florida, and Louisville.   Mark and I are also planning to race Canada in 2012.

Henry Sacco

My name is Henry Sacco. I live in Northern Massachusetts with my awesome wife Susan, daughter Ariel and son Henry Michael. I’m 42 years old and have been actively involved in endurance sports for the last three years. I work in a corporate environment and spend most of my day at a desk or in meetings. The three sport discipline of triathlon was a perfect outlet as I really wanted something interesting and challenging to keep me fit.

I started out in 2009 entering 5k races, half marathons and sprint triathlons. It wasn’t until my second year that I got the Ironman® bug. This year I raced Ironman® Lake Placid, Timberman HIM and now Ironman® Arizona. I’ve found that I really enjoy the discipline required to execute long course triathlons and I’ve learned that it is so much more than just fitness! I’m surely still a newbie, but am looking forward to many additional years of racing.

This is my first year training with Endurance Nation and I could not be happier. I especially like that fact that the coaches account for the needs of age group athletes by building plans that accommodate disparate schedules and allow us to maximize the limited hours in a week. The wealth of knowledge found in my team mates and on the EN forums cannot be matched. Thanks EN!

Aaron Linkow

My name is Aaron Linkow and this is my 2nd year racing with Endurance Nation.  Last year I raced Coeur d’Alene and had a blast, so I thought I’d give it another go this year with IMAZ.  I love the team feeling and the collective knowledge of all the members, it’s wisdom you can’t find on your own.  This year was a race heavy season with 7 time trial bike races and 4 triathlons of various distances.  I’ve been married for 13 years and have 3 wonderful daughters (that started racing this year).  They love attending the races and cheering for daddy. Attached is a picture of the family after my kids race (prior to my 70.3).  I look forward to seeing everyone in Arizona.

Steve Swanlund

This is the end of my first year with Endurance Nation, and my second Ironman® since joining. Ironman® Couer d’Alene was an awesome experience and one that was made even better by the members that did it with me.  My membership with EN allowed me to take part in the Epic Aspen Bicycle Camp in September in preparation for Arizonawhere I met some great people.  These late season Ironmans are tough to train for having been training for 50 weeks consecutively, but it was made a little bit more pleasant having the team to bounce ideas and concerns off.  I am looking forward to completing this challenge and having a great time doing it.

Jeremy Behler

This is the end of my first year with EN and Arizona will be my first 140.6.  I’ve been doing triathlons for 2 years.  My background is in cycling where I raced in college (Breaking Away anyone???).  I picked up running 5 years ago and just started swimming 2 years ago as I got into triathlon.

I live in Cincinnati where I work at Procter and Gamble.  I’m married to Meredith with three kids: Davis (7), Clark (5), and Maggie (2.5).

Carrie Larson

My name is Carrie Larson and I am from CO.   AZ will be my third IM with EN.  I was lucky enough to have found EN right before my first IM CDA in 2010. I loved it!  I  did CDA again this year and am excited to be in AZ.  I am a mom of 3 boys, Finn (11), Luke (8), and Connor (6).  My husband TJ and family are so supportive.  They help to make it all happen for me.  I work full time as a sales rep for an Eyewear Company,  part time as Fitness instructor and  as a Private Instructor in Beaver Creek/Vail.  My first triathlon was in 1991 and I continue to love the sport.  I have had so much fun this year with racing.  I qualified for Nationals and I am in a Gatorade commercial.  This is all new to me… I just have FUN.   My kids loved seeing it on tv. I just want to give back and love seeing the passion that everyone has.  I look forward to meeting everyone and hope to spend time getting to know you all.


Jonathan Needell

My name is Jonathan Needell and I am a 41 y.o. age group triathlete competing in Ironman® Arizona. This is my first full Ironman.  I am a proud father of 2 beautiful kids (Caroline 11 and Harry 9).  My wife’s name is Christine and she is my best friend and my whole family has been very supportive this year.  I am originally from New York.  I am a 1992 graduate from St. Lawrence University. I spent 20 or so years being very overweight to obese. Two years ago I went on a diet and started masters swimming. Then I started running and eventually cycling. In the last 18 months I have completed a half marathon, marathon, two olympic triathlons, three half Ironman’s, and now I am attempting my first full Ironman. I recently (8 weeks out) injured my hip. Hip tendonitis with a bit of a tear. Rehabbing it is going well but I will not know if I can run until I get off the bike. I joined Team EN this year to learn how to keep up this Triathlon lifestyle for longer than a couple of years and I am looking forward to a long Tri career and the race on November 20th.


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