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Wentworth-Douglass surgeon to compete in Ironman World Championship in Hawaii

When Dr. Peter Dirksmeier leaves Sept. 30 to compete in his 14th Ironman competition, it will be the culmination of a goal he set for himself 15 years ago.

That’s because his next competition is the Ironman World Championship (Oct. 6-8) in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii - known in some circles as the “Super Bowl” of Ironman competitions.

Dirksmeier has been with Wentworth-Douglass Hospital for 21 years and works as an orthopedic surgeon at Seacoast Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. He competes in Ironman’s amateur division and there are only two avenues for amateurs to be granted eligibility to the prestigious field in Kona. Either finish an Ironman Competition in the Top 3 of a respective age group or complete in 12 or more Ironman competitions.

“When I started doing Ironman, I -like most Ironman hopefuls- said to myself that ‘I want to get to the Kona race,’” Dirksmeier said. “I quickly realized after doing a few of these things that finishing in the Top 3 of my age group was highly unlikely and seemed to be a super human task.”

Then, Ironman instituted a legacy program that rewards the loyalty of competitors who have completed 12 Ironman competitions, allowing them to compete in the Kona race once.

Dirksmeier’s road to Kona started in 2013 when he completed in his first Ironman competition in Lake Placid, N.Y. Since then, he has traveled around the country competing in Ironman Triathlons, and even completed an international event in Ireland.

With 13 competitions completed, Dirksmeier was qualified for Kona in 2020 and 2021 but those events were cancelled due to COVID-19. The delay forced him into three years of preparation for this year’s event. 

“It’s momentous in that I am turning 60,” Dirksmeier said. “A good friend and I have competed together in triathlons for many years working toward this goal. We are the same age and have enjoyed a healthy competition between the two of us. He would frequently say to me ‘let’s attempt to do Kona when we turn 60,’ and I would say, ‘as soon as I get the spot, I’m going.’ I did not want to take any chances. As it turns out, we’re both turning 60 and we’re both happily going to check off this bucket list item together.”

“I think I will always remember that when I turned 60, I did the Ironman World Championship,” he said.

Ironman World Championship spots in Hawaii are very limited and highly coveted by the best and most devoted competitors in the world. Hawaii is also where Ironman originated and it is considered one of the competition’s most challenging courses.

“I visited Kona during the race in 2011 and remember feeling that I was seeing the fittest people one can ever see at one place, at one time,” Dirksmeier said.

Ironman competitions include a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run.

Dirksmeier’s goal for Kona is to simply take it all in, enjoy the day, and put forth his best effort.

“As long as I finish and all those things happen, I’ll be happy,” he said.

The 140.6-mile event generally takes him between 12-13 hours. Competitors are allowed 17 hours to finish.

Dirksmeier says he enjoys all three of the Ironman disciplines and that is why he gravitated to triathlons back in the 1980’s.  As a lifelong health, fitness, and exercise enthusiast, it fits his lifestyle, keeps him in shape, and allows him to decompress from daily stressors. In addition, it serves to quench his competitive thirst.

Dirksmeier started doing short-distance triathlons when he was a U.S. Marine Corps officer and continued to compete in them on-and-off through medical school and his residency. He loved competing in shorter triathlons and, after arriving to the Dover area, gradually increased his distances before competing in Half Ironman competitions and ultimately graduating to full Ironmans.

Dirksmeier is unsure what his next challenge will be after competing in Kona, but says he hopes to enjoy the high that achieving this long-time goal will undoubtedly bring.  After that, Dirksmeier said he will continue to train and practice the healthy lifestyle that he preaches to his patients every day. 

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Orthopedic Care

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