Ryan Marzen is the full-time Perry Elementary School Vice Principal and part-time triathlete. Having competed in several Ironman and half Ironman (70.3 miles) events, Marzen is on his way to becoming one of the few triathletes to receive the honor to compete in the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.


An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile run, raced in that order and without a break. In order to get to the Ironman World Championship, though, Marzen must first meet the iconic race’s qualifications.


Marzen was a dual-sport athlete in high school where he participated in basketball, track and field, and cross country. From there, Marzen says he started to focus more on running towards the end of his senior year.


“For the longest time[…] I was all about basketball and team sports,” Marzen said. “There was just something about running that I really liked; it’s so individualized and my mom was really into it so I decided when I went to college that is what I wanted to do.”


After attending and participating in cross country and track at Buena Vista University, Marzen went on to coach and teach in Denison, Iowa, where he began training to run marathons. Marzen was soon able to qualify for the Boston Marathon in April of 2014.


Marzen decided to retire from marathons momentarily when he met Matt Hanson from Storm Lake, Iowa. Hanson is a professional triathlete, who also graduated from and taught at Buena Vista University. Marzen reached out to Hanson to learn more about triathlons, Ironman races and how to prepare for them. Hanson agreed to coach Marzen for his very first half Ironman in the Wisconsin Dells and later a full Ironman competition in Louisville in August of 2016.


“I probably asked [Hanson] about 50 questions per day,” Marzen said. “I asked him about nutrition, what I should be doing and stuff like that. He was just really awesome about it.”


Marzen would go on to compete in another Ironman competition in Coeur D’alene, Idaho, before taking a year off from the events.


Soon Marzen came to miss the process of training and eventually registered and competed in an Ironman 70.3 in Muncie, Indiana, in 2017. Later that year Marzen went to Florida and finished an Ironman race eighth in his age group.


Now, Marzen says he continues to train by marinating this steady lifestyle of teaching, coaching and competing. Marzen finished the Ironman 70.3 race in Wisconsin and in Muncie again this year and will head to Ohio’s 70.3 to compete again on July 29.


“This whole year has been all about getting ready for Ironman Chattanooga which is in September,” Marzen said. “And I am just training through those. I’m not taking any rest days and I’m going into these races with the mindset of, ‘I have to get to Kona.’”