Ritterbeck: Geography’s Ironman

Geography graduate student John Ritterbeck is considered a top contender in the 2006 Collegiate Ironman Triathlon Championships to be held at the University of Madison, WI this September. The event will feature a 2.4 mile swim, 112 miles of biking, and a marathon run of 26.2 miles to finish. According to a News-Press write up (“Ironman, Ph.D.” by staff writer Leah Etling on July 28), “the mild-mannered Ritterbeck, who picked UCSB as the place where he would earn his doctorate not just because of the school’s stellar geography department, but because the Gauchos also have a top club triathlon team, is a favorite to win the event.”

Ritterbeck became interested in triathlons as an undergraduate at Kent State University where he ran Division I Cross Country and was on the Track and Field Team as a steeplechaser. Recently, he placed third as an individual in the West Coast Collegiate Triathlon Conference Championships, leading UCSB’s team as they won the event. He also had his best half Ironman race in Oceanside this March, completing the course in 4 hours, 37 minutes, placing 59th overall out of over 2000 and 26th in the amateur class (the winning Pro time was 3 hours, 58 minutes and 24 seconds). Apart from his athletic prowess, “J.” also happens to be on track towards his Geography PhD with a dissertation topic of “Using Public Participation GIS and Gaming to build a new Decision Support System for Sustainable Development within the Rural Periphery of Costa Rica.” We wish him all the best in both fields!

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