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Longview doctor to compete in Ironman World Championship

By Richard Yeakley
Oct. 6, 2012 at 10 p.m.

A Longview doctor will compete Saturday in the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, achieving a life-long goal.

Robert Wessman saw the Ironman when it was first televised and wanted to compete.

"It was always a dream I always wanted," Wessman said. "I am just thrilled to death that I get to live this dream."

An Ironman Triathlon is an endurance challenge where competitors swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and then run a traditional marathon of 26.2 miles.

The race - designed to be the ultimate test of endurance - began in 1978 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Since learning about the competition, the 6-foot 6-inch tall, 270 pound 47-year-old, has trained in numerous ways, including running three non-championship Ironman Triathlon's - two in Houston.

This past weekend, Wessman ran a half Ironman in Branson, Mo., to warm up for Saturday's competition.

Wessman lives in Longview, but works for East Texas Medical Center in Carthage as a family practice doctor.

Wessman said training for the race occupies much of his time when he is not on the road or at work.

"In a typical week, I will train 20 to 30 hours," Wessman said. "I get up some days at five to six in the morning and get home late."

Wessman does his swim training at the Good Shepherd Institute for Healthy Living and said he will often run on the treadmill at the gym.

For bicycle training, Wessman bikes a three-mile loop at the Longview Business Park.

Wessman gained entrance to the world championship by purchasing an auctioned charity spot.

Although many competitors are invited for their performance in Ironman Triathlons across the world, others like Wessman have the opportunity to donate their way into the race.

For 10 years, the Ironman Foundation has opened opportunities to compete for those that win an eBay auction raising money for charitable organizations.

This year six positions were opened.

"I squeezed all my friends neighbors and family. I guess just about everybody I knew, and as it turns out, I had just enough that I had raised that I won," Wessman said.

Wessman will represent Variety - the Children's Charity.

"Variety is dedicated to improving the lives of critically ill, at-risk, disadvantaged and special-needs children," according to the Ironman website.

Traveling with him to Hawaii is his wife, Lisa.

"He just hopes he finishes. He doesn't want to get there and disappoint himself. He always likes to beat his time, but he just wants to finish this one," Lisa Wessman said.

On April 1, Wessman ran a half-Ironman triathlon in Galveston, finishing with a time of 7 hours 14 minutes and 16 seconds.

"My goal is to finish and represent Variety well," Robert Wessman said.



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