Steve Roulier isn’t usually at a loss for words. A career in television and public relations helped him there.
Roulier, 50, found himself searching for the right words when he was asked about competing in next month’s Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Hawaii.
"I really can’t. It’s hard to say," he said. "I’ve known people who have tried to get to Hawaii for their entire lives.
"The Ironman World Championship is the Super Bowl of our sport. To get there is an incredible honor."
But that’s just what the Adams native and former WWLP-TV sports anchor is going to do on Oct. 12, when he and a large group of athletes from around the world will descend on the 50th state to compete in the Ironman.
We all know the term Ironman from last week’s Great Josh Billings RunAground. The Ironmen and women ride for 26 miles, canoe or kayak around the Stockbridge Bowl twice and then run five miles to the finish.
Ironmen like Roulier start off with a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile marathon run.
"It takes years of training and certainly in my case, luck," Roulier said. "I never really thought that I could get there. My teammates [on the Cyclonauts of Springfield] thought otherwise. I started to believe maybe a year ago that I could."
Roulier was a track and cross country runner at Hoosac Valley High School, graduating in 1981. He said he was never a top runner for the Hurricanes.
After graduating from Castleton State in 1985, he began a series of TV gigs, which concluded with a 11-year stint at WWLP. He left for Western New England College’s public relations staff in 2000 and is now the Director of Marketing and Communications at Springfield College. He also was the editor of the Berkshire Sports magazine.
It was a knee injury that actually started Roulier on the path toward Hawaii. He said that his doctors and physical therapists told him that after knee surgery, he needed to do more than run to get back in shape.
"I’ve always watched the Ironman World Championship on TV and thought it was a cool thing. At this point, I had started working at Western New England. There was a pool [on campus]," he said. "Maybe I can start doing this crazy sport called triathlon that I watch on TV all the time."
The first triathlon Roulier competed in was in 2003 in Greenfield, and he overslept. Roulier got there with minutes to spare, and found out the swim portion of the event had been canceled.
Roulier qualified for Hawaii by finishing third in his 50-59 age group at the Ironman North American Championships in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, last month. Roulier swam the 2.4 miles in 1 hour, 9 minutes, 23 seconds. His bike leg was 5:18:18 and his marathon time was 3:48:03 for a total time of 10:24:21. He was the first American to finish in his age division and 167th overall out of 410 finishers.
On his campus, Roulier is a celebrity again.
"They put up a big sign in the wellness center for me. As I was walking over to get my swim in, I took a picture of the sign," he said. "One of the students at the [front] desk, I heard her whisper to the other person ‘Hey, that’s him.’ I turned around and said ‘Yeah, that’s me.’ "
To reach Howard Herman:
or (413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @HowardHerman.