MOSCOW, Idaho -- It's a misleading name, but the IronHamburger isn't a new deal from a fast food joint -- in contrast, the IronHamburger actually represents a rare, elite level of athletic endurance.
Moscow resident Kjell SchiCberg, originally from Hamburg, Germany, has been coined the "IronHamburger" because of his career as a professional endurance athlete. SchiCberg has done 19 Ironman competitions in 12 countries -- including Germany, Austria, Canada, China, Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia, among others. Of those races, he is a two-time Top 10 Ironman finisher and a two-time age group champion.
Prior to racing, he played a popular European sport known as team handball, but began running after an injury stopped him from playing. He began competing in endurance sports, he said, because he was looking for a new physical challenge.
"It started out with marathons -- I like the challenge of seeing how far I can go without getting hurt," SchiCberg said during a phone interview, during which he was simultaneously training on a stationary bike. "I want to see what I can do, and if I am faster, that's great. If someone else is that day, that's great too -- I will be next time. So I would say it is a healthy level of challenging myself and finding the edges of possible."
An Ironman competition consists of a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride and finished with a 26.2 mile run -- also known as a full marathon. SchiCberg has also run more than 50 marathons, both halves and wholes, and has finished multiple ultra-marathons, which are races more than 26.2 miles. He doesn't have a favorite type of race, he said, though running is one of his biggest passions.
"I liked marathons very much at the beginning, but after a few months I started loving them," SchiCberg said. "I think running is the most natural way of getting from point A to point B. If I have a chance I prefer to run everywhere I can."
Training-wise, SchiCberg said different races require different methods, but oftentimes the hardest part of getting through a workout is mental determination.
"Triathlons are very complex because you have to consider three sports and ... the longer ones are very long and draining," he said. "And getting ready for an ultra-marathon is a lot of mental preparation. It's not so much the physical training, but you need to know you'll be out there for 'X' amount of hours, that you'll be exhausted ... that's important."
The ultimate race for Ironman competitors takes place in Kona, Hawaii, which SchiCberg has competed in three times. Another pivotal moment in his athletic career took place at Ironman South Korea, where he took second place overall.
"That was probably my biggest win yet," he said. "I would not weigh it over running other races because they're special to me too, but that was a big success for me."
Now, SchiCberg is living in Moscow with his wife, who is finishing up a degree in wildlife biology at the University of Idaho. They met in 2007 at the Coeur d'Alene Ironman competition, leading him to move to Moscow permanently. He currently works as an exercise specialist for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe in the Benewah Medical Wellness Center in Plummer, Idaho, where he does therapy and training with patients.
After four years of competing at a professional level, SchiCberg said his job is now his first priority, and he just has to fit training in whenever he can. He said he plans to continue competing in endurance sports and for now, he and his wife are content to continue living in Moscow.
"You never know what life brings, but we have a good apartment and we like the town," he said. "I just discovered over the weekend how beautiful the Moscow mountains are. I lived here for so long and never made the drive up there."
He discovered those mountains during the Moscow Mountain Madness Half Marathon on Sunday, where he took third place. He had competed the day before in the Palouse Sprint Triathlon, which he won.
"They were very successful, both were very well-organized, and I was very happy," he said. "I'd love to see a marathon someday in Moscow, because we have a beautiful trail (Bill Chipman Palouse Trail) and it would be a great location for a race."
(c)2011 the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho)
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