He's paying the price to compete Kirk Corsello ready for second Ironman

September 29, 1992|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Staff Writer

When Kirk Corsello leaves Wednesday for the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii, he's pretty sure he won't end up stranded in paradise.

Three years ago, he wasn't so sure.

When Corsello left for his first Ironman competition, he had $6 in his pocket. He made it home, but only after Baltimore-area residents read about his plight in the newspaper and sent him money.

This time, his credit card ensures a speedy return.

Like most amateur athletes, Corsello never has enough money. The 25-year-old Upper Marlboro resident works as a sales representative for a medical supply company, but Corsello can't raise the kind of money he needs by himself. A few sponsors provide him with equipment and clothes, but he hasn't drawn enough support to cover other expenses.

And the better Corsello gets, the more money he needs.

This summer, he won a spot on the national triathlon team and represented the United States at the world championship. That cost him money, too.

He had to spend more than $100 to buy his own U.S. team sweatsuit and had to pay his own way to the Sept. 12 race in Muskoka, Ontario. Corsello drove for 13 hours to get there, because he couldn't afford the plane fare.

"I didn't have a real good race, but I did about as well as I expected," said Corsello, who finished 41st of 98 in his first world championship at the international racing distance (a .9-mile swim, 24.8-mile bike and 6.2-mile run).

To qualify, Corsello finished ninth in his age group, 25-29, at the Triathlon Federation of the United States championship in Cleveland in August. The top 10 qualified.

The Ironman in Kona, Hawaii, on Oct. 10 will be Corsello's second world championship at the longer distance. Ironman competitors start off with a 2.4-mile swim, then bike 112 miles and cap it off with a full marathon, 26.2 miles.

Corsello said his training for the Ironman also had something to do with his middle-of-the-pack finish in Muskoka. The weekend before, he cycled 122 miles on Saturday and ran 18 miles at a 6:35 per-mile pace on Sunday.

"I really beat up my body that weekend. Your body can't recover from that kind of punishment that fast, but I did it because my main focus was the Ironman," he said.

Corsello has been competing in triathlons for six years and is finishing his most successful year. Of his 12 races before the Ontario world championship, Corsello won three and won his age group six times.

His only finish out of the top nine came at the Gulf Coast Triathlon on May 9. But Corsello didn't mind -- that was the race that qualified him for the Ironman in Hawaii.

Corsello always has been strong swimming and bicycling, but he has struggled with the running.

In his first Ironman, Corsello was 16th out of the water and 14th midway through the bike. "But I slowed down after that, because I had never run a marathon before," said Corsello, who holds several swimming records at North Harford High. "When I got off the bike, I was 101st, but I had a terrible run. It took me 4:13 to do the marathon."

He finished 281st, 40th in his age group.

Since then, Corsello has trained hard to improve his running. He finally made a breakthrough this summer after working with Jim Pryde, who has coached many top local runners.

"Mentally, I just never considered myself a runner until Jim Pryde taught me what running was about. I always swam with swimmers and biked with bikers, but I never ran with runners. Runners talk about 2:36 marathons like they're nothing. I was just missing it mentally in the running."

Thursday evening, Corsello ran his best two-mile time ever to finish second in the Gas Mask Dash at Aberdeen Proving Ground. "A shorter race like this is just fun and it gives me a chance to see some old friends," said Corsello.

After the race, Corsello headed off to a fund raiser on his behalf at Christopher's in Timonium. He hoped the event, organized by a friend, Nina Bingham, would offset some of the $7,000 in bills from the two world championship races.

But the money woes won't stop Corsello. Although this has been his best year ever, he hopes to look back four years from now and consider 1992 just the turning point. His ultimate goal is to be an Olympian.

"We're really hoping and pushing for the IOC [International Olympic Committee] to permit us into the 1996 Olympics," said Corsello.

"It would be a great story if the triathlon became an Olympic sport in Atlanta, because the triathlon was invented in America."

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