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July 8, 2014

Kinneman gears for elite Hawaii triathlon

North Andover's Kinneman gearing up as TriFury's first Hawaii Ironman qualifier

The need to diversify as a runner opened up a whole new world for North Andover’s Tom Kinneman.

And since he discovered it, he’s taken it by storm.

A runner since before high school while living in New Jersey, Kinneman decided about seven years ago that it would behoove him to do some cross training, both for injury prevention and to spark his running.

As has become the trend when runners start cross training, that led Kinneman to triathlons and, soon thereafter, the local TriFury club. Although he admits he wasn’t much into swimming (“I’m still learning to swim,” he says), Kinneman quickly became enamored with triathlons and quite successful at them.

And when the 61-year-old gets into an activity, it’s full throttle. It didn’t take long for him to start dreaming of qualifying for a triathlete’s ultimate goal, the Honolulu Ironman (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run).

Since 2009, Kinneman has been aiming to do just that, either at a qualifying ironman or a half-ironman. In both cases, you need to either win or place high in your age category.

After a couple of near misses, Kinneman became the first TriFury member to accomplish the feat, when he won his age group at the Florida Triathlon in November with an overall time of 10:40:27. That included a final excellent time of 3:46 in the marathon.

“I was behind the (age group) leader by 23 minutes after the second transition (from bike to run) but I caught him at mile 23 (of the marathon),” said Kinneman. “It took about a half hour to get the official results — you always have doubts — but I was really happy when it became official.”

Kinneman had come close to qualifying for the Hawaii Ironman on a couple of other occasions, including when he finished third at the Eagle Man Half-Ironman in Maryland, but it seemed, based on his ability, that it was just a matter of time before he officially qualified.

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