2015 SISU Iron Reviews

Much has already been written in social media about the 2015 SISU Iron.  Unfortunately, this is often quickly buried by a barrage of other postings.  So, we wanted to take this opportunity to share some posts from a select few Iron participants.  These folks represent some of the best performers at the event.  

As you may, or may not, know, we do not have a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place at the Iron.  We have the Iron Man and Iron Woman, which are voted on by the other finishers and represent those who raced with the most honor, integrity, and inspiration.  These are basically the kind of people you want to surround yourself with in life.  They are the people you want by your side in a crisis, and they are just plan fun to be around and good at getting stuff done!

This year, we also had a number of other awards, such as the Squirrel Award.  The Squirrel Award is selected by the staff as the racer whom they feel best embodies the ideals we seek to promote at the Iron.  Being held at Camp Trask - a scout camp - we like to say that we abide by the Scouting Oath and Law:

Scout Oath (or Promise)

On my honor I will do my best 
To do my duty to God and my country 
and to obey the Scout Law; 
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, 
mentally awake, and morally straight.
Scout Law
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, 
courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty,
brave, clean, and reverent.
We also had a few other winners this year, to whom we gave out a free entry or Spartan-themed prize.  We want to recognize greatness where we see it, but we also honor all those who toe'd the line this year, especially those who earned their stripes and had a "SISU" marked on their personalized vests.  You know who you are!  
But enough about the awards and honors.  Without further adieu, here are the words of a few of our esteemed participants.  
- Matt Trinca

The IRON is a one of kind event where one is challenged both mentally and physically. You are taken to your limits and back and learn more about yourself than you ever thought you could and what you are truly capable of. 
As everyone's journey is their own the IRON is also different for everybody. It's a place of laughter, tears, anguish and hope. A place of light and darkness, of learning and self discovery. The IRON emulates life and spurs ones growth physically, mentally and spiritually. 
You will be inspired and you will inspire with friends new and old. The IRON is Vital in forging oneself into not a just better athlete but into a better person.
The event of the year it is a must do event, not to be missed. 
Kenneth Herzog

The SISU IRON is one of those events that is hard to describe – most of what you experience cannot be 
put to words.  Part race, part survival skills, part feats of strength, the IRON tests you to the very core.  It 
is designed to break you down into simple building blocks and then reconstruct you.  The end result is 
that the event builds better athletes and better humans.
This would be my second consecutive year of participating in the IRON.  I enjoyed it so much the 
previous year that I encouraged several of my Corn Fed family to join me in this year’s event. In total, 11 
of us Midwesterners toed the line when the clock started at 9 pm on Friday night.  I knew this year’s 
event was going to be very different from last year’s – harder, more intense, and less forgiving.  I did my 
best to try to prep the Corn Feds in the weeks leading into the race with tips, training days, and 
encouragement.  In the end though, sometimes previous experience is the best tool you can have in 
your pack… I was banking on that and my own training to pull me through.
One short but fun task (eat a donut hanging from a string)went off before the main event started.  
Shortly thereafter we all gathered in the amphitheater area for opening remarks, where Daren gave a 
very inspiring and emotional oratory.  Matt followed up with an oath that all were required to recite in 
which we vowed to race with integrity and honesty (and basically that we signed a death waiver).
I received a pass for the first event of the evening – 10 of us whose “Why I’m Doing the SISU IRON” 
write-up were selected and published were exempt from this grueling event of barrel rolls with a strobe 
light, PT, and charging in and out of the cold frog pond.  While it was nice to not start the evening wet 
and chilled, part of me didn’t feel right watching my friends go through funishment.  I cheered and 
offered encouragement where I could though.
The tasks thereafter came quickly – lots of time spent in the water for the first hour or so.  Physical 
challenges like PT from Coach Pain aka Coach HellYeah as he came to be known at the event, mental 
challenges like solving math inequalities and then applying those values towards an algorithm that 
would solve a scrambled quote (I lucked out here in that I was hanging with Scott Weir, and the two of 
us deciphered the quote without needing to use the equations – and we quickly spread the word).  My 
partner in crime for many of the tasks was Danielle Ross, who I’m happy to call friend and who 
motivates me to perform. The level of female athletic performance was very impressive and – might I 
say – rivalled (and in some cases surpassed) that of the men.  Women like Danielle Ross, Leah Erickson, 
Amber Lukes, Mary Carideo, Bonnie Mobley, Vlada Davydova, and Janice Ferguson breathed life to the 
event that seemed to be absent last year. I was excited to be among such strong women!
The two most meaningful tasks to me were Community Service, in which we spent time beautifying the 
grounds of Trask (because paying it forward rejuvenates the spirit), and Victoria’s Challenge, named for 
a SISU member who had passed away.  Victoria’s Challenge was a timed 15 mile run down to Dave and 
Buster’s and then back up the mountain. Months of training and a little recon on the route before the 
race paid off, as I was the first woman to return to camp, alongside Louis Thunder Badger (tied for 2nd 
overall). I was ecstatic! 
Patches were earned for major tasks, but something that meant even more to me was when an event 
leader would recognize special effort among the racers – scribing a letter on our race bibs to eventually 
spell “SISU.”  I received my fourth and final letter at the fire starting task by Kevin Kierce, and I don’t 
think I smiled so much than during that moment.
The famed final task – the waterfall hike – was much more treacherous this year.  Low waters led to 
more jagged rock exposure, dense plant overgrowth, and slippery conditions.  My exhausted legs at 
times needed to physically be lifted with my hands to help step up onto tall rocks. I called out hazards to 
those behind me whenever I slipped, stubbed a toe, or hit my head.  Reaching the falls, we filled our 
buckets to the required depth and started our uphill march back to Trask. My body ached and my brain 
was fuzzy from no sleep, but my spirit felt strong. I marched into camp and presented my bucket to 
Dave Lokey and Dave Huckle, who confirmed my completion of the event.  And, just like that, I was 
finished.  I breathed a sigh of relief coupled with exhaustion, and went to task of sewing the 7 earned 
patches onto my race bib.
When the awards ceremony kicked off at 6am, I watched as 25 of my comrades earned their dog tag, 
handcrafted beer, and iron spike – out of over 200 registrants and a little less than 100 starters, a mere 
26 of us completed the event.  I cheered for all of them, clapping loudly for each recipient because I 
knew just how hard they had worked to get where they stood.  My spike and tag meant so much more 
to me this year, and I stifled some tears as Daren handed them to me.  When the time came to 
announce the recipients of the coveted Ironman and Ironwoman awards (voted on by fellow racers and 
meant to recognize the person they felt raced with the most heart, honor, and integrity), I glanced over 
at Danielle as I sat next to her, thinking she would be the winner.  I was shocked when my name was 
called instead – I slowly stood and walked back up to Daren in disbelief as he held the custom axe 
award, visibly fighting to keep from crying.  In hindsight I should have said some words to thank the 
event directors and my fellow racers, but I was in such a state of disbelief that it was all I could do to find 
my way back to my seat.  Even now as I stare at the axe bestowed upon me, I get misty-eyed.
In a world where things are automated and everything is handed to you, sometimes you lose your sense 
of self.  Deep down I think we all yearn to toil like our ancestors did.  Things are more valuable when you 
put effort into it, and achievement means more when hard work prefaces it.  The IRON is an event that 
brings us back to our roots and allows us to experience those things: physical labor, tasks of patience, 
feats of pure athleticism, and tests of mental fortitude. It drives us to remember that, at our very core, 
we are capable of achieving so much more than we ever believed. The IRON builds better humans, and 
that is why it keeps drawing me back.
Ande Wegner

Thanks so much for putting this event on!  this was the most challenging and amazing event of my life.  The physical stuff was really hard but the emotional stuff will stay with me for ever.  This event touched me on the deepest level, [and] I am a better, stronger person for it.
I am trying to get something written for this event but the last week has been hectic!  
I understand the amount of time, effort and energy that putting on an event of this magnitude takes, you have touched so many people, I have the deepest respect for you both and all of the staff and volunteers, truly an amazing group of people.
Thank you so much for everything!
Dana Brown
2015 Squirrel Award Runner-Up

See also the inspirational (and helpful) blog entries from Janice Marie Ferguson, our 2015 Beard Award winner (free entry into the 2016 Iron):

"Why I'm Doing the SISU Iron"

"You Can't Finish the SISU Iron Alone"

"5 Keys to Success at the SISU Iron"


Posted On: 05/12/2015

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