Joe Klinedinst has been a competitive person ever since he started playing sports.
Whether it was playing baseball or football growing up, wrestling in high school or college or working out thereafter, Klinedinst has always been motivated.
In the past few years, though, the Dallastown High School graduate and current teacher at Dallastown has found his niche: Ironman Triathlons.
Last Saturday, Klinedinst, 42, finished fifth overall in an Ironman competition in Cambridge, Maryland, to qualify for the world championship next year.
“I’ve always been a very competitive person, so I always try to get as much out of myself as I can,” Klinedinst said. “(Ironman) tests my limits.”
Ironman Triathlons are grueling competitions that include a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile marathon. Out of the 1,800 competitors in Maryland, Klinedinst was one of 30 to qualify for the world competition in Kona, Hawaii, next October.
“It’s pretty coveted to get a spot,” he said.
The start: Growing up, Klinedinst mostly stuck to the traditional sports — baseball, football and wrestling.
He played all three sports at Dallastown High before graduating in 1994. He then wrestled collegiately at Millersville University.
After college, Klinedinst started teaching technology education courses at Dallastown High, where he now mostly teaches video and film production classes. He worked out in the early 2000s, but said his training didn’t have a “purpose.”
That changed in 2006 when Klinedinst hiked the Appalachian Trail and picked up hobbies such as kayaking, mountain biking and trail running.
“I knew I wanted to get into triathlons at some point, but I hadn’t really swam a lot before,” he said. “In 2008 or 2009 I did a few triathlons once I got the swimming down and then my first Ironman after that.”
Boston Marathon: Klinedinst ran his first marathon about 12 years ago, but one of his more memorable competitions is the 2014 Boston Marathon — held a year after the Boston Marathon bombings.
“It was my first time. It was a super cool experience,” Klinedinst said. “Once I did it, I went back a couple of years in a row.”
Getting faster: Klinedinst said his commitment to Ironman competitions has increased in the past few years.
The 2019 world championship will be his second time competing in the competition and his third time qualifying for it. He last went to Kona in 2016 and finished with a time of just over 10 hours. His most recent time at the Cambridge event was about 9 hours and 5 minutes.
“The smarter I get about training, the faster I continue to get,” Klinedinst said.
Helping his development is coach Andrew Yoder, who runs a training facility in Lancaster.
“(Yoder) has been a huge help to me, especially in my cycling, teaching me to ride harder and smarter,” Klinedinst said. “There’s a lot of science involved in endurance sport and when to train hard and when not train hard.”
Back to Kona: Klinedinst said his last trip to Kona didn’t end how he wanted it to. His goal was to break 10 hours, and he came about 40 seconds short of that goal.
“I was really overwhelmed when I was out there, because the caliber of athlete is so good,” Klinedinst said. “I’m used to being at the front of the pack, and when I got to Kona, I was just an average guy.”
The Ironman World Championship next year is set for Oct. 12, 2019.
“Now I have another shot to go back and redeem myself on that course, especially now that I know what I’m in for with what the course is like and what the competition is like,” Klinedinst said.
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.