October 17

Erik Waldman Completes Ironman Challenge

Move over Tony Stark, the Authority has its own Iron Man.

Erik Waldman, senior director of client and guest services, completed his first full Ironman Triathlon this past weekend (Oct. 15) in Louisville, Ky., finishing 54th in his age division out of 287 competitors, with a time of 11 hours, two minutes and 21 seconds.

For the uninitiated, the Ironman Triathlon is widely regarded as one of the most grueling one-day sporting events in the world and consists of back-to-back-to-back swimming (2.4 miles), cycling (112-mile ride), and running a marathon (26.22 miles) – without a break, other than transitional times for changing gear.

Waldman finished the multi-discipline race in 320th place overall out of 2,750 triathletes.

“I’m very happy with the results, considering the conditions – and it being my first,” he said.

The conditions he alluded to include “really bad weather,” with temperatures in the mid-50s and winds gusting up to 30 mph during the race. Which made swimming nearly two-and-a-half miles in the choppy Ohio River a far cry from a leisurely Sunday afternoon dip.

Waldman says he was inspired to try his hand at triathlons by his younger brother, who began competing roughly eight years ago.

When Waldman moved to Atlanta in 2012 to become the Georgia Dome’s director of event operations, he was looking for a new hobby and found the metro area’s hilly terrain and abundance of trails and bike paths perfect training ground for building up triathlon stamina.

But what about the third part of the triathlon? Did he swim regularly in Chattahoochee?

No. He practiced his stroke at the YMCA pool and Lake Allatoona at Red Top Mountain.

He started with smaller triathlons that he likened to running a 5K race, with shorter distance swims and cycling stints.

From there, he went on, to the next one, the next one, and the next one, conquering bigger challenges along the way.

Earlier this year, he competed in the Publix Georgia Marathon, staged at Centennial Olympic Park, and the half-distance (70.3 total miles) triathlon Ironman event in Chattanooga, Tenn.

He said to himself: “If I do well in those, I’m going to sign up for Louisville.”

Soon after finishing the Chattanooga race, where he came in 28th in his division, he felt he was ready and committed to the Louisville event.

His wife and daughter accompanied him to Louisville, cheering him on with two-and-a-half year-old Addison holding up a sign that read, “I Love My Iron Dad.”