The 140.6-mile test | July 3, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Living - July 3, 2009

The 140.6-mile test

Danville teen training for grueling Ironman Triathlon

by Chuck Herrmann

For most people, graduating high school is the pinnacle of a summer that will focus on relaxing and preparing for college. For Kevin Bruns, this summer is for constant training to prepare for the Vineman Ironman Triathlon.

An ironman triathlon is a grueling day-long event that was created by Navy SEALs to find out who is the toughest of the tough. This super endurance event consists of 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling, and culminates in a marathon - that's right, a 26.2-mile run.

Bruns, 18, became tired of team sports in high school after consistently witnessing teammates who didn't care or try. So, he turned to the one teammate he could count on without fail: himself.

"If I make mistakes I know I can fix them, and if I perform well, I know that I did everything I could to win," said the Danville resident.

Having grown up participating on swim teams and being a fan of running, the ironman seemed like a perfect fit for the unique athletic skills of this 2009 San Ramon Valley High grad.

His preparation for the Vineman race has not been easy by any means. Bruns began the off-season by lifting weights to produce lean muscle that could carry him through a rigorous contest such as this. Now he works out every week on a constantly increasing workout regimen he found online.

"The toughest will be next week because I'm going to work out for about 22 hours," he said.

The Vineman triathlon takes place in the beautiful Sonoma county wine country. Bruns, of course, is more focused on achieving his goal of finishing under 12 hours then touring vineyards.

The triathlon begins in the town of Guerneville at Johnson's Beach, and has the racers swim up the Russian River to a turn-around point and then swim back. Once out of the water, the racers shed their goggles and wetsuits for bike shoes and aerodynamic clothing to cycle through miles of vineyards and rolling hills that are scattered across the country side. The largest of these rolling hills is Chalk hill, which has the racers climb about 330 feet.

Wait, there's more! Once the two-lap cycle is over, Bruns will immediately have to strap on his running shoes and put on his most reflective white T-shirt to keep the sun from making this extreme race even harder on him.

"The important thing to do during the last few miles of the cycling leg is to stand on the bike while pedaling to get your body used to running." He said.

Because after the 112-mile bike ride, he must hop onto black pavement and run a long and taxing 26.2 mile path, which ends at Windsor High School.

With temperatures expected to be anywhere from 80 to 95 degrees - and some say 105 - he knows that there is a possibility it could be a very hot day indeed and he needs to prepare all he can before the Aug. 1 race. To ensure himself that his muscles and energy will remain at a constant level, Kevin will bring his own help.

"I will be eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches throughout the race to prevent cramping and provide protein," said Bruns. He plans to finish off his gourmet race snacks with sugar cookies for a desperately needed supply of energy.

Bruns has also been prepping for the big day by drinking four to five large bottles of water daily and waking up a few times a week around 3 a.m. to get his body ready for the big day when he will arrive at that time to get set up. The course has drinks and food stations lining the roadways to supply the racers with whatever they need including medical attention, but Team Bruns wants to make sure that he comes prepared.

He plans to take a few trips up to Sonoma to run parts of the course as the final steps of his training.

Bruns will be attending Diablo Valley College in the fall with aspirations to move on to UC Berkeley to become a member of the Golden Bears triathlon team. He knows that if he can accomplish his goals he has a shot to compete for the U.S. Olympic team in 2016.

At the moment, Bruns is just looking forward to competing in this exhausting event as a stepping stone and test for himself in his first ironman race.

When asked the biggest question of all, "Why?" - Bruns answered, "Why not?"

After some reflection, he added that he wants to add a little chaos to his existence.

"I'd rather be out doing crazy things than conforming to an average life," he said.

Kevin Bruns asks anyone with tips or advice on his big day to e-mail him at