Koby Leidholt: Miles City’s Iron Man

Abe Winter
Star Staff Writer

Preparing for an Iron Man competition, which involves swimming, biking and running, is no small assignment.

For Miles City’s Koby Leidholt, it lately has involved about 40 miles of running over a period of five days per week, plus the swimming and biking.

That’s because he’s been  readying himself for the World Championship Half-Iron Man 70.3, scheduled Sunday in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“Some days are easy runs,” he said, “because I hold myself back so I don’t wear out my legs.”

He’s also been swimming at Spotted Eagle Recreation Area.

“It’s a little chilly, but once you get warmed up it’s not so bad.”

The Iron Man competition starts with a 1.2-mile swim, followed by a 56-mile bicycle endeavor and a half-marathon run (13.1 miles). That’s a total of 70.3 miles, which the name of the event suggests.

The 5-foot-7, 155-pound 23-year-old Leidholt is a 2012 Custer County District High School graduate. He participated in football (a member of the 2010 state championship Cowboys), track and field, hockey and baseball.

Before his senior year was half completed, he had decided to join the Navy and that’s where he’s been the past five years — 3 1/2 years being spent in Japan.

“It was a really good experience,” he said. “I felt like it was the right thing to do, but I’m definitely happy to be done.”

It was while in Japan that he got hooked on the Iron Man, competing four times in southeast Asia — twice in Taiwan and once each in Japan and Thailand.

His best time was 5 hours, 38 minutes, which he hopes to beat by a wide margin in Chattanooga.

“I would like to go sub-five hours,” Leidholt said. “I’m fairly certain I can do it, but it depends how I feel on race day and the conditions, like heat. Sometimes your body doesn’t respond.”

He’s also hoping things go better on his bike.

“The middle two (races) I didn’t (improve my times) because I crashed on my bike,” he said, adding that he was able to continue with no serious injuries. “Just my ego and bruised skin — road rash.”

The swimming portion of the race was the last at which he became competitive.

“It took a while,” Leidholt said.

Then comes the bike portion of the three-prong competition.

“The trick is to get there with  enough energy to run as hard as you would like,” he said.

At the last race in Taiwan, Leidholt finished fifth in his 18-24 age group. When those ahead of him opted not to go to the World Championship, he was offered the opportunity and gladly accepted. It will be a family affair with his parents, Dennis Leidholt and Rhonda Verbeck, and his two sisters, Kylee and Kyrtlie, also attending.

“I don’t know what to think of it,” his father said. “It’ll be different. Personally, I think he’s nuts doing it.”

But he’ll be cheering for his son, who plans to attend college. Asked what he’d like to be doing in five years, Leidholt didn’t hesitate.

“I would like to be in medical school,” he said.

As for future championship Iron Man competitions, it’s uncertain. After all, it involves world travel, last year’s being in Australia and next year’s in South Africa.

“It’ll be difficult to do throughout college because, at the minimum, you’re looking at 15-20 hours a week,” Leidholt said. “There are some people who train 40 hours.

“For me right now it’s 30 a week. This is my sole priority at the moment.”

The doctoring, he hopes, may come several years later.

(Contact Abe Winter at starcity@midrivers.com or 406-234-0450)

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Please see the the photo gallery Iron Man for more photos)