THE FRONT ROW with Jason Elliott, June 22, 2013 - Coeur d'Alene Press: Sports

THE FRONT ROW with Jason Elliott, June 22, 2013

Valley boy making his Iron attempt

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Posted: Saturday, June 22, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 12:42 am, Sat Jun 22, 2013.

The countdown is at one day right now until the 11th annual Ironman Coeur d'Alene.

In 33 years, there's not many people that I've met that can say they've finished this race - three to be exact, let alone more than one coming from the small mining town of Wallace.

At some point on Sunday evening - Colby Mattila will be the third.

MATTILA WILL be one of the 2,500 amateurs that will hit the water beginning at 6:35 a.m.

"I just thought, well, why not," said Mattila, 34. "Back when we were kids, I'd watch some of the events on television. When it comes to Coeur d'Alene, close to my home town and I know the area. It was inexpensive because I didn't have to travel and all the stars just aligned right to do it this year."

As the days get closer, nerves have begun to hit him.

"More than you can imagine," Mattila said. "I've been getting Facebook updates and as it gets closer, it just keeps getting more and more real."

Ironman consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride followed by a marathon (26.2-mile run).

"When I first started training, I thought my bike would be my best," Mattila said. "Then I suffered a ruptured disc in my back and now I think my swim will be my best, then the bike. The run will just have to be what it is."

Mattila, who played football and ran track at Wallace High, got the itch to compete while watching the mass start in last year's event.

"It's a moment of insanity to adrenaline rolled into one," said Mattila, who is a shop teacher at Post Falls High, and was formerly an assistant baseball coach for the Trojans. "I had a cousin that I watched (last year) at the swim start. You just catch the bug and say to yourself - let's do it."

To prepare, Mattila competed in the Onion Man Triathlon in Walla Walla on May 26, as well as a few other triathlons around the region.

Mattila, who is married with two kids, trains at the Post Falls High gym after school until 5 p.m. Even while vacationing to Disneyland during spring break, he found ways to keep up with his training.

"With my (work) schedule, I'm done training by the time most people are getting off work," Mattila said. "During Christmas, I bought a membership to the (Wallace Athletic Club). Vacations got a little challenging, but I was in the pool at the hotels and walking around Disneyland was workout anyway."

Living in the area is also an advantage that he thinks will pay off.

"Being a local, there's a bit of an advantage," Mattila said. "We're already used to the lake and those coming in will be in for a culture shock. In no way do I think that I'm going to win or even come close, but it's something that I've always wanted to do. Living around here, it was always a headache getting around, but since I've been training for it, it has been a great experience. It changes your life. The whole thing has been wild. Everyone said you need to do this - so I'm doing it."

IF YOU are looking for Mattila, he should be easy to spot. He'll be one of only 50 competitors to don a University of Idaho jersey.

"The university posted on their Facebook page that they'd be giving jerseys to alumni that signed up," Mattila said. "They picked me, so I thought that was really cool and an honor really to get to wear their colors."

When he finishes (Mattila is projecting between 8 p.m. and midnight), he'll be looking for his children, Charlie (5) and Annie (3).

"As soon as I signed up, I told my wife (Shannon) that I wanted the kids at the finish line," Mattila said. "My goal is to finish in 14 to 16 hours."

His family also has had shirts made up to show their support. The top two finishers in each age group advance to the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii later this year.

"My dad (Elmer) has been the most supportive," Mattila said. "My mom (Corki) thought I was going off the deep end. By no means do I think that I'll challenge for a spot to Kona (for the World Championships), but it be nice to at least finish. I'm not doing this by any means to try and win it and think that I will, but it's just something that you need to do in your lifetime, so I'm doing it."

Good luck friend.

We're behind you.

Jason Elliott is a sports writer for the Coeur d'Alene Press. He can be reached by telephone at 664-8176, Ext. 2020 or via email at

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