Northwestern Press

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Schnecksville's Ironman

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 by MIKE HAINES mhaines@tnonline.com in Sports

Through high school and college Kenrick Smith was one of those increasingly rare athletes that played every sport he could. From swimming to football to track, cross country and then rugby at Widener University, the Lansdale native only gave up participation in one sport when it conflicted with others.

After college graduation, his sports careers went on hold as he started his professional career and a family. But he always wanted to get back into something.

"I always wanted to see how far I could push myself, no matter what sport it was," said Kenrick, who resides in Schnecksville with his wife Jodi and their three children, Ava (seven years old), Maggie (six) and Brycen (three).

Smith found just the right sport to do it. In 2009 an old college roommate invited him to try a triathlon. He held his own in his first race and has been consistently improving since then.

"I have a desire to see what my body can do," Smith said. "Every time I am amazed by the results."

A prime example came in July at an Ironman Triathlon in Lake Placid, NY. Smith made the podium with his fifth-place finish in his age group. He was the 12th amateur to cross the finish line and was 21st overall out of 2896 participants.

His performance earned him a spot in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii in October.

"I'm still trying to wrap my head around how big an accomplishment that was," Smith said.

It's a big accomplishment for any triathlete. For one who took a took a nearly 10-year hiatus from sports and has only been training for two years, it borders on unheard of.

Smith was an all-league wide receiver at North Penn High School, and earned all-league honors in javelin and honorable mention all-state recognition with the 4x100 meter relay team his senior year, 1998.

In his first two years at Widener he played football and ran indoor and outdoor track. He always enjoyed powerlifting and staying in the best shape he could.

He was also heavily recruited to swim at Widener, but by his junior year he was exploring another new sport. He played rugby in his final two years of college, helping the Pioneers to their first appearance in the Division II national playoffs.

He also played for the Regional Collgiate All-Star team for two years, earning invitations to try out for the national all-star team both years.

Upon graduating, Smith contemplated playing rugby in Europe, but the civil engineering major decided to start his career and put sports on the backburner.

After marrying Jodi, his college sweetheart and starting their family, he eventually tried his first triathlon in 2009 and it was love at first sight.

After his first, he started training for another and progressively got better.

Over the next two years he continued to improve on his finishes. For the 2012 season he decided to leave his job and focus full-time on his triathlon goals and aspirations. He joined with coach Todd Wiley and is enjoying more steady improvement in the 2012 season.

Deciding to go full-time was a tough decision, but the he is sure it's the right one.

"It was very hard," Smith said. "My wife and I sat down and talked about it. It is what was going to make us happy."

He knows none of it wouldn't be possible without a ton of support.

"I'd like to send out a special thanks to my family, parents, coach Todd Wiley of TWiley Sports, Fine Line Racing, Walabax Construction Services, Bridgeton Group, Popeye21, Gatorade EndurAlliance, TWiley Sports, Fitness Central, Champ-Systems, TryChips and PXT Triathlon for all their support."

He can always use more support, from sponsors or fans of triathlons, and he would love to help any aspiring athletes that have the desire to try endurance sports.

"My main goal is to inspire others to reach for their goals and encouraging others to try something new," he said.

Smith gets a warm feeling every time he nears the finish line of a race.

"When I'm about a mile from the finish line I get goose bumps," he said. "I start to hear the music (at the finish) and the crowd. I think, 'This is what all the training is for.' It almost brings tears to your eyes. You almost feel like screaming."

He gets the same feeling watching others finish, knowing how much they have put themselves through to be able to cross the finish line.

Then he looks for Jodi, Ava, Maggie and Brycen.

"I find my family and give them a big hug," Smith said.

For more about Smith and his career, see his web site www.K17SPORT.com.