Local couple compete in Ironman contests around the world

Paul Garrod - news4garrod@vineyardpress.biz
	Veterinarians Andy Baker and Marianne Leduc-Baker will take time away from their jobs this month to compete in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, Oct. 12. The couple has competed in the triathlon events around the world since 2012, and say they are healthier now than they were 10 years ago.	Photos courtesy of the Bakers  	The finish line of an Ironman contest draws a very large crowd, according to the Bakers. “Everyone roots for everybody else,” said Andy.

    GOBLES - Veterinarians Andy Baker and Marianne Leduc-Baker, co-owners of Gobles and Bangor veterinary clinics, will take a short time away from their jobs this month to compete in the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, while also raising funds for two charities.
    Marianne,  a 1985 graduate of Gobles High School, and a 1992 graduate of Michigan State University, found herself at a crossroads in 2008, her 40th birthday.  That year proved to be the year she would get back in shape.
    To start off, she competed in her first 5-K run. In a matter of four short years, she found herself competing in her first Ironman contest, which consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run. The event begins at 7 a.m. and participants  have until midnight to finish the competition.
    But that would change.
    Andy, a 1984 Paw Paw High School graduate, and a 1992 graduate of Michigan State University,  joined his wife in running events two years later, in 2010, and neither one has ever looked back.
    Neither Marianne nor Andy considers themself to be athletic.
    “It’s amazing what you can do one step at a time,” said Marianne, who will be competing in her 15th Ironman contest since 2012. “We’re more healthy than we were 10 years ago; I feel better now than when I was 30.”
    Since 2012, the couple has traveled around the world, to compete in Ironman contests in New Zealand and Australia,  to name a few. Next year, they will travel to Austria to enter an Ironman competition there.
     Their son, Christopher, has joined his parents in two Ironman competitions, while daughter, Emily, has  competed in a marathon with her parents. Another son, Brendan, who is autistic, has competed in two 5   K runs and Special Olympics.
    The  couple  has learned that competitors in  the Ironman contests in which they have competed display a lot of commoraderie   
    “Everyone roots for everybody else,” said Andy. “You need to get to the finish line before time runs out, or you don’t finish.”
    Both have experienced one Ironman contest where  they did not finish. For Marianne, it was her very first one. “It was devastating,” she said.
    “You need to slow down and pace yourself,” said Andy. “It’s amazing what your mind wants your body to do. You can push  yourself to the ground,” said Andy.
    The two compete in a marathon each spring, while continuing to bicycle throughout the year. They also take part in a two-hour workout most every day.
    The 40 Ironman contests held throughout the world each year each attract 2,500 people.
    The Bakers say the upcoming contest at Kona, Hawaii, Oct. 12, is the most brutal of all the races due to the  heat, wind, climbing and humidity.
    “The weather can play a pretty good part,” said Andy.
    Those wishing to contribute to Andy’s charity, charitywater, a global, non-profit  committed to building sustainable wells  in arid and third world countries,  may do so at: my.charitywater.org/andy-baker/tri-140-6-for-water.
    Marianne’s charity, Special Olympics - Kalamazoo Area 16, will  help  local special athletes compete  in many sports including,  golf, swimming, skiing bowling, basketball and many more. Make donations to :   www.give.classy.org/teambrendan.

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