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Sewickley resident completes 5th Ironman World Championship

| Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Joseph Maroon of Sewickley has no plans of quitting after competing in his fifth Ironman World Championship last month in Kona, Hawaii.

Maroon, 73, placed 16th in the 70-74 male age group with a mark of 16 hours, three minutes and 48 seconds.

He completed a 2.4-mile swim in 1:44:58, a 112-mile bike ride in 7:10:27, and a 26.2-mile full marathon in 6:51:01.

In his division, he placed 13th in the swimming, 11th in the bike riding and 16th in the running events.

More than 2,000 men and women from around the world entered the annual competition.

Frederik Van Lierde of Belgium (8:12:29) was the overall winner.

A triathlete since 1982, Maroon entered his first Ironman 20 years ago.

“Each time after finishing, my first words are, ‘This is the last time,' ” Maroon said. “Two or three years later, I find myself training again.”

Maroon was encouraged after he almost equaled the time he posted 10 years ago.

“The older, the slower you are,” he said.

In 2010, the last time he entered, Maroon finished in 15:40:31.

Maroon, a neurosurgeon and clinical professor at the University of Pittsburgh, said he feels euphoric while competing and mildly depressed when done.

“There's no other experience like it,” said Maroon, who trains six to seven months a year, 20 to 24 hours a week. “I like the challenge of competing against top athletes in the world.”

Maroon learned a lot about himself by competing.

“It's great to know that, physiologically, with intense effort, it's possible to maintain the same physical endurance, quickness and agility I had in years past,” said Maroon, noting he has become a better surgeon as a result.

Maroon said his thinking, reaction times and ability to process information have improved.

“It's absolute proof that brain health is directly related to physical activity,” he said.

Maroon, a member of the National Fitness Hall of Fame, has written about his experiences online.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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