MacDill captain becomes an Ironman

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Shandresha Mitchell
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing public affairs
Although he originally began his workouts to clear his head and regroup, one Air Force captain set his sights on becoming an Ironman.

It was competitors braving the brutal Ironman World Championships held in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, that inspired Capt. Michael Schultz, 6th Medical Support Squadron officer in charge of refill operations.

"Seeing the raw emotion of athletes as they crossed the finish line tugged at my heart every time," commented Schultz. "I wanted to be one of the few athletes to race against the best in the world."

During college, Schultz was a swimmer and during his off season, he would always sign up for marathons and half marathons.

"I had a strong endurance base, but I felt like I wanted more of a challenge," stated Schultz. "Not that a marathon or a half marathon isn't challenging, but I wanted to push my limits and set my sights on a full Ironman triathlon."

However, this New Berlin, Wisconsin native didn't become an avid competitor in triathlons until he joined the Air Force.

The preparation and training that Schultz underwent became like a part time job, but he focused on crossing the finish line at Kona.

To complete the Ironman, Schultz would have to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles.

"In a typical week with no upcoming races, I try and swim about seven miles, bike 150 to 200 miles, and run 30 to 40 miles," said Schultz.

Thus far, he has competed in two full Ironman triathlons and has another full Ironman coming up in November.

Schultz explained that the biggest draw for him is being able to say he completed something that less than 0.01 percent of the world's population has. There are only about 50,000 people that finish one of the 25 full Ironman triathlon events worldwide each year, and wanting to be a part of that is a huge motivator for him.

"I love the camaraderie and sense of community," commented Schultz. "It's a small group and everyone knows the effort it takes in training just to make it across the finish line and there is a huge amount of respect no matter if you're the first professional to cross the finish or the last age group athlete."

Schultz credits his determination to compete to the skills he's learned in the Air Force, such as attention to detail, time management, and dedication to a goal or mission.
"All the things that I have learned and do every day on the job also cross over to my training," said Schultz. 

Completing two Ironman triathlons was better than he had hoped, and finishing in the top three of his age group qualified Schultz for the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. 

"Words can't really describe what it was like crossing that line," expressed Schultz. "But all I know is that I want to experience that again."