Meet FAST Members

Below are some stories from FAST members and those that FAST members found inspiring.  We will try to add new stories ever few months.  If you would like to write a story for this page, please let our President know at

Jim Austin - First FAST member to complete an Ironman

Jane Sanders - Iroman at 50

Dick Hoyt - Strongest Dad in the World


Jim Austin

My name is James Austin and I have been a FAST member since 1989, the year I did my first triathlon. I am now 56 years old and will shortly be retiring from Ford after 34 years (plan to spend more time with family and business). During this time period, I found it very rewarding/inspiring to be part of FAST and staying active doing triathlons, marathons, and various other races. It has been a great way to stay "in shape", motivated (only as good as your last race), and meet/make new friends (i.e. Geoff Fletcher, Ken Gutowski, Ken Ritter, Mike Jaske, Marcia Bennett, Matt Meyers, Leslie Blackburn, Mary Hagen (Smith), etc. to name a few). Being a triathlete/Ironman provided me with an inner confidence that carried over into my personal/work life. If you work hard and put forth your best effort, you can accomplish most anything.

My claim to fame within FAST, is that I was the first member to complete an Ironman race. This was accomplished in the 1990 IM Canada race. What makes this somewhat unusual was that I was a very unlikely club member to do an Ironman race. Ken Gutowski and Mike Jaske were the "top" triathletes in the club at the time (some things do not change with Ken who just received the FAST male triathlete award this year). I had only done a few smaller triathlons earlier in 1989/1990 and struggled to just finish. I literally just learned how to swim a year earlier (could not swim one length of the pool when I started taking lessons). At the time I finished only three marathons with a best time of only 4 hours 10 minutes. However, I had a great desire to complete an Ironman after watching it on TV, wanted the challenge, respected the triathlete lifestyle/fitness level, and wanted to get in the best shape that I could. When I went to British Columbia for the race in Aug. 1990, I did not tell anyone in the club that I was doing the race. I did not want any extra pressure since I felt there was a high probability that I would not to finish. I simply stated that I needed a break from training and was going on a vacation. I found the entire atmosphere extremely exciting/inspiring (triathletes from all over the world, beautiful scenery/mountains, thousands of support people, etc.). I was able to get through the race and found it very emotional at the finish (had tears in my eyes). I could not believe that I completed an Ironman! My finish time was slow (14 hours 40 minutes) but I did not care as long as I beat the required 17 hour cutoff.

When I came back to Dearborn I was extremely excited and motivated to do another Ironman. The club was totally "shocked" that I completed an Ironman. Members thought that if Austin could complete an Ironman anyone could! Thus started the trend in FAST to do the Ironman race. The following early years of the 1990's, Marcia Bennett, Mike Jaske, Matt Meyers, Ken Gutowski, Geoff Fletcher, Mary Hagen, etc all did Ironman Canada (at the time that was the only official Ironman race in N.A.). I feel good that I helped to get the Ironman trend started.

Between 1990 and 2002, I completed a total of 10 Ironman races. Races included five IM Canada (1990, 1991, 1994, 1996, & 1998), one IM Germany (1992), Vineman in California (1995 - extremely hot), two IM Lake Placid (2000 & 2001), and finally IM Wisconsin in 2002. My best time was IM Canada in 1996 (12 hours 38 minutes). After the 2002 IM Wisconsin race, I took a four year break from triathlon. I was getting burnt out, thought of training as a job especially the long bike rides, and had higher priorities (two young daughters). I continued to run every morning at 6am from the Ford Fitness Center in Dearborn. with a great group of friends from the Dearborn Ford Fitness Center (Ken Gutwoski and Ken Ritter part of this group). To stay in shape/motivated I have been running at least three marathons a year (have now completed over 50 marathons). This past fall I was able to qualify for the 2007 Boston marathon with a 3hr 45 minute time in the Free Press marathon.

Also this past year I also got back into triathlon by completing the IM Lake Placid for my 11th Ironman race (14 hours 14 minutes). Wanted to be part of the large Ford contingent doing the race and wanted to prove to myself that I could still do an Ironman at age 55. I was extremely happy to cross the finish line with my two daughters Robbie and Ashley (age 11 and 13). After the 2007 Boston marathon, I do not have any immediate racing plans for the future. I am going to see how “retirement” from Ford goes and start a new chapter in my life. Staying fit will definitely be part of this and FAST is a great club to help accomplish this goal. I have been extremely grateful for the club and of the members that have provided such help and encouragement to me.

Posted January 2007



Jane Sanders

I turned 50 years old on Dec 5th 2005. I have been doing triathlons for four years and worked my way up to the Half Ironman. In celebration of my 50th birthday I decided to attempt an Ironman!

I don’t have an exciting athletic background. My parents made me join a swim team when I was 9 years old. I guess it was a good thing after all. I never was a great freestyle swimmer, so I ended up swimming the backstroke. I was on the Marion High School Swim Team. My freshman year was the first year they had a team. My events were the backstroke and 200 IM because I could do the other strokes and had endurance! I played golf for fun, but there was no golf team.

Dan, my husband of 28 years, and I are the proud parents of three children. They are Lisa age 24, Joe age 21, and Andy age 17. I started running about seven years ago, and as a result, lost thirty pounds that I had put on through pregnancies. I developed a passion for running, and road races. I worked my way up to the marathon and qualified for Boston in my first attempt. It was at the 2000 Detroit Marathon (3:47:40). Since then, I have done 11 marathons in the last 6 years, and many other road races.

I started swimming as a form of cross training in 2003. I met some triathletes at the pool, and they inspired and encouraged me to attempt a triathlon. I did the Genesys Athletic Club indoor triathlon and won the women’s division in March of 2003. Soon after, I bought a bike and with the help of some triathlete friends, trained for my first outdoor triathlon. It was just short of an Olympic distance (what was I thinking). I did great and won my age group. I wiped out on the bike at the turn around but got back up and kept going. It turned out that my bike didn’t fit me correctly and later I sold it and bought a better bike. I have done several century rides as well as the DALMAC twice. The DALMAC is a four day ride from Lansing to Mackinac. Triathlons became a summer thing for me to do. I have done 15 triathlons in the last 4 summers, and enjoy the training especially the longer distances.

I joined FAST just after I registered for IM Wisconsin. It has been wonderful meeting more people to train with! It is inspiring to hear other people’s stories and experiences. IM Wisconsin was an awesome journey for me. The training was a challenge, but well worth it. The race was very difficult, humbling and rewarding. I learned a lot. I was very fortunate to get a roll down spot for Kona in 2007. I have decided to use this race as an opportunity to raise funds for a charity. I will sign up for the Janus charity challenge and raise funds for breast cancer. More details later. I have seen so many breast cancer survivors go on and swim, bike and run. Some of them train during their treatments. What an inspiration that is! I have also sadly witnessed my son’s fifth grade teacher lose her battle. She was an outstanding teacher and mother who was such a loving person. I have been blessed with my health, especially considering the two negative breast biopsies. It could have been me. A lot of advancements have been made in the past few years for the treatment of breast cancer and maybe more people will benefit if we can support research and treatment options.

I plan on running the Boston Marathon in April 2007. I will continue to do triathlons and train next summer for Kona and the Hawaii Ironman. I hope to improve my IM time at Kona but most importantly have a great experience. If I can raise money for a good cause that would be even better!

Posted September 2006


Dick Hoyt

[From Sports Illustrated, By Rick Reilly]

I try to be a good father. Give my kids mulligans. Work nights to pay for their text messaging. Take them to swimsuit shoots. But compared with Dick Hoyt, I suck.

Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars--all in the same day.

Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. on a bike. Makes taking your son bowling look a little lame, right?

And what has Rick done for his father? Not much--except save his life.

This love story began in Winchester, Mass., 43 years ago, when Rick was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs. "He'll be a vegetable the rest of his life;" Dick says doctors told him and his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. "Put him in an institution."

But the Hoyts weren't buying it. They noticed the way Rick's eyes followed them around the room. When Rick was 11 they took him to the engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there was anything to help the boy communicate. "No way," Dick says he was told. "There's nothing going on in his brain." "Tell him a joke," Dick countered. They did. Rick laughed. Turns out a lot was going on in his brain.

Rigged up with a computer that allowed him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his head, Rick was finally able to communicate. First words? "Go Bruins!" And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the school organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, "Dad, I want to do that."

Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described "porker" who never ran more than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he tried. "Then it was me who was handicapped," Dick says. "I was sore for two weeks."

That day changed Rick's life. "Dad," he typed, "when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!"

And that sentence changed Dick's life. He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got into such hard-belly shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 Boston Marathon.

"No way," Dick was told by a race official. The Hoyts weren't quite a single runner, and they weren't quite a wheelchair competitor. For a few years Dick and Rick just joined the massive field and ran anyway, then they found a way to get into the race officially: In 1983 they ran another marathon so fast they made the qualifying time for Boston the following year.

Then somebody said, "Hey, Dick, why not a triathlon?"

How's a guy who never learned to swim and hadn't ridden a bike since he was six going to haul his 110-pound kid through a triathlon? Still, Dick tried.

Now they've done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii . It must be a buzzkill to be a 25-year-old stud getting passed by an old guy towing a grown man in a dinghy, don't you think?

Hey, Dick, why not see how you'd do on your own? "No way," he says. Dick does it purely for "the awesome feeling" he gets seeing Rick with a cantaloupe smile as they run, swim, and ride together.

This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon , in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992--only 35 minutes off the world record, which, in case you don't keep track of these things, happens to be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the time.

"No question about it," Rick types. "My dad is the Father of the Century."

And Dick got something else out of all this too. Two years ago he had a mild heart attack during a race. Doctors found that one of his arteries was 95% clogged. "If you hadn't been in such great shape," one doctor told him, "you probably would've died 15 years ago.

So, in a way, Dick and Rick saved each other's life.

Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass., always find ways to be together. They give speeches around the country and compete in some backbreaking race every weekend, including this Father's Day.

That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy.

"The thing I'd most like," Rick types, "is that my dad sits in the chair and I push him once." You can get more background info at

Last Updated on Monday, 06 August 2012 12:07