BISMARCK, N.D. - Arnie Strebe is always looking for the next challenge, and that’s given him a pretty impressive resume. He’s a former Army Ranger and college cross country runner, he’s written a book and has plans for a second, and he’s a businessman and current president of Starion Bank. And he’s a world class athlete; he’s completed six Iron Man races, and now an Ultra Man.
The Ultra Man is an elite group. Strebe was one of just 40 athletes from around the world invited to compete in the Ultra520K race earlier this month in Canada. And only about a thousand athletes have ever finished the three-day endurance race.
On day one, athletes swim 6.2 miles and bike 93 miles. Day two is 171 miles on the bike, and on day three they run 52.4 miles. Athletes have just 12 hours each day to complete the distance.
But Strebe is quick to downplay the accomplishment and quick to look ahead to his next challenge.
“I was looking for a new challenge,” Strebe explained.
That search took Strebe to Canada for the Ultra520K race. He was one of just 40 athletes from around the world invited to compete. He trained for 10 months and raced for three days. After crashing his bike on day two, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to run the next day. Once he started, he wasn’t sure he’d finish the double marathon.
“My hip hurt and my ribs hurt. I did the first 10 miles, and wanted to quit miles 10 through 20,” Strebe admitted. “But the announcer interviews each athlete before the race and then talks about things you said in the interview. When I passed him he said, ‘Arnie’s motto is ‘never quit.’”
And so, he didn’t quit.
“I did the first marathon in five hours and I knew I could walk the second one in seven hours,” he said. “That’s when I knew I was going to be an Ultra Man.”
At age 59, Strebe was the oldest athlete to compete in the Ultra520K. Now with the race behind him, Strebe is focusing on inspiring the next generation of athletes. Strebe is gearing up for the youth triathlon, an event he brought to Bismarck five years ago.
“It is one of my highlights of the year. The kids are excited and nervous,” he said.
Kids like 8-year-old Sullivan Steinle, who is preparing for her first-ever triathlon.
“I’m not nervous. I kind of know what it’s going to be like because I did swimming and I’ve ran and biked a lot,” said Steinle.
It’s that confidence that Strebe hopes instills a love of the sport in these kids
“It’s a great event for kids, they swim, bike and run. It gives them a chance to take a look at a sport that’s just taking off and it is a great way to stay healthy and live a healthy lifestyle,” said Strebe.
The youth triathlon is set for Saturday, August 24 at the Missouri Valley Family YMCA. You can learn more and sign up at bismarckymca.org.
Kids will swim 50 yards, bike two miles and run a half mile.
As for Strebe, he’s already thinking about his next fitness goals. He says he sets three goals each year. His goals for 2020 include organizing another kids’ triathlon, completing three Iron Mans and qualifying for the world championships.