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Retired USAF colonel qualifies for Ironman World Championships

Date Posted: 2002-02-15

Lt. Col. Andy Loeb, USAF (Ret.), a 53-year-old former dentist/orthodontist now living on Kadena Air Base, recently won his age group at the 2002 Malaysia Ironman, held on the island of Langkawi. He finished 53rd overall, qualifying himself for October’s Ironman World Championships in Hawaii by coming in first for the 50-54 age group.

This is not the first time this strongman has accomplished such a feat. He also qualified in 1988, 1992 and 2000 and led his age group at last year’s Ironman Japan. Loeb has been running in triathlons since 1985 and has raced all over the world in countries such as Germany, Australia, Korea and Japan. Maj. Mary Loeb, his wife and biggest supporter, will be accompanying him to the championships in Kona this October. The race will take place on Oct. 19 and will begin at 7:00 a.m. The World Championships in Hawaii consist of a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike race and a 26.2-mile run. Competitors have 17 hours to complete the race. Every year, nearly 1,500 competitors, ages 18 to 80, compete from all over the world.

According to Loeb, “I was very excited to have qualified this year for two reasons: First, it was the first time I had won my age group at an Ironman race. Second, and most important, it will be our 10th wedding anniversary in October. We were married in Kona two days after I did the race in 1992, and it is very important for us to return and celebrate.”

Loeb is looking forward to the race in Hawaii but claims it will be difficult. “My only expectation is to have fun and finish,” says Loeb. “It can be a very difficult race with unexpected conditions. The last two years have had wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour.” Training for the big race is consistent and intense. Loeb trains three times per week between 10 and 20 hours. “I thoroughly enjoy the training, figuring out a training plan and traveling to another part of the world to race and meet other triatheletes,” says Loeb.

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