Giving Sayville’s Ironman Gary Jensen a Proper Send-Off to the 2018 IRONMANWorld Championships

  • To compete as an IRONMAN, an athlete must swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and then finally run 26.2 miles. But to qualify for a “legacy” race at the World Championships in Hawaii, the athletes have had to finish at least twelve IRONMANs before their names can be entered into a lottery, and only one-hundred contenders will be picked.

    The name Gary Jensen is well known in Sayville School District. He has been a Sayville Physical Education teacher for twenty-one years, has organized and coached the triathlons at the Middle School from 2001 to 2008, and in 2013 launched the Sayville Elementary duathlons which will be holding its sixth annual event on October 27, 2018.

    What may not be so well known is that Gary Jensen has competed in thirteen previous IRONMANs.  And this past July, three days after completing the IRONMAN Lake Placid, Gary was surprised with a slot to race in the World Championships. “Gary is competing,” his wife, Vanessa, explained, “as a Kona Legacy Athlete.”  

    For a legacy competitor, IRONMAN is more than a race requiring the best times, it is a lifestyle. The IRONMAN Legacy Program recognizes that these athletes are the heart and soul of IRONMAN and grants select competitors the special opportunity to compete in the prestigious IRONMAN World Championships. 

    For Gary Jensen, racing in the IRONMAN World Championship is dream he has had since he was a teenager and now it has come true. This Kona Legacy program at the IRONMAN World Championship is scheduled for Saturday, October 13 in Kona Hawaii and will be his fourteenth IRONMAN.

    If becoming an IRONMAN is not challenging enough, Gary has taken on an additional challenge. He is racing for ROHHAD (Rapid-onset Obesity with Hypothalamic Dysfunction, Hypoventilation and Autonomic Dysregulation), bringing awareness to a rare, childhood disease, which local Bayport resident and family friend Marisa Carney has been fighting. While it takes tremendous determination to qualify for the IRONMAN World Championships, it takes an enormous heart to endure the grueling test of body, mind and spirit for such a worthy cause.

    To give their physical education teacher—their role model of fitness and good sportsmanship—a proper send-off, the elementary school students at both Cherry Avenue and Sunrise Drive will be wearing Hawaiian shirts on the Friday before he leaves for the competition. As the entire Sayville School District congratulates Coach Jensen for his achievements thus far, his administrators, colleagues, students and  their families wish him the best on his amazing challenge.

The Jensen gang with friend