Victor Dover, the improbable Ironman

The Tri-Loco Miami team pauses to read the South Miami News while sizing up the Ironman finish line in Lake Placid, NY. L-R: Gerardo Aycinena, Brittany Doerpfeld, Mario Arbesu, Victor Dover, Joanne Linley, Tim Lewis, Olga Martinez and Diana Bruno.

“Victor Dover, YOU are an IRONMAN!,” said the announcer in his booming and commanding voice as Dover, a South Miami resident and principal of Dover, Kohl & Partners, Town Planning, crossed the finish line to complete a 140.6 mile journey in the recent Ironman USA competition held in Lake Placid, New York.

“The announcer yells this with great conviction and enthusiasm for every person who crosses the finish line,” said Dover. “It’s music to your ears and a great reward. The crowd is cheering and clanging cowbells just like in the Tour de France and they cheer even louder for the last competitors who limp or hobble across the line.”

This is Dover’s second Ironman competition and he calls himself the “improbable ironman”. “I don’t go fast or finish first, but I do go far,” he said. His goal for the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run was to finish in less than 17 hours. Despite an ankle injury that forced him to fast-walk the uphill and flat portions and jog the downhill sections, he finished the grueling Lake Placid course in 14 hours, 53 minutes,”I shaved eight-plus minutes off my previous time on the 2.4-mile swim. That’s a lot. I passed 1,586 other swimmers on the first leg of the race,” said Dover.

Dover traveled to the July 25th event with his seven Tri-Loco Miami team mates, Diana Bruno, Tim Lewis, Joanne Linley, Olga Martinez, Mario Arbesu, Brittany Doerpfeld and Gerardo Soto. The entire team, decked out in teal and red uniforms, knew the steep course would be both challenging and scenic.

“Well, it was pretty, and difficult, and pretty difficult!” Dover said. “In fact, JoJo Linley’s brake pads melted on the way down one hill on a practice ride and I hit a scary top speed of 48.7 mph on the long descent of the bike course.”

All eight members of Tri-Loco Miami finished the course in under 16 hours and received finishers’ medals.

“We really help and inspire each other during the competition,” said Dover. “The swim portion is like a human washing machine, so you really can’t see your teammates at all, but we looked for each other during the bike and run portion.”

The comments on Dover’s FirstGiving site to raise money for the Dan Marino Foundation motivated and inspired him, as well. Dover has raised nearly $5,000 for this competition and donations are still being accepted at www.firstgiving.com/victordover2010.

“Some of the comments are witty and some are sentimental,” said Dover. “They all mean so much to me and I thought of those when I was in the 23rd mile of the run.”

The Dan Marino Foundation is near and dear to Dover’s heart and to date, he has raised nearly $25,000 for the foundation. “People really like to help and get in on the action. They root for you as you raise money for your cause and as you compete,” said Dover.

Dover competed in his first Ironman in Idaho in 2008. He’s competed in marathons in West Palm Beach, Miami, the Outer Banks, New York, Chicago and London. He also competed in half-Ironman events in Orlando for the past three years, and this year added the very challenging “Swim Miami” 5K swim.

“It’s good to always have an event on your calendar. It keeps you motivated and keeps you training,” Dover said.

Dover began running ten years ago. His family, wife Mari, son Thomas and daughter Lee, inspired him at that time to “eat less and exercise more.” He eventually started training with TeamFootworks in South Miami, quickly progressing from his first 5K to the Miami Marathon.

“South Miami is the perfect town to train for these endurance events. There are so many inspiring groups anchored by longtime stores like Footworks and Mack Cycle, which are practically institutions in the neighborhood,” Dover explained. “You can get involved in fitness at any level in this city.”

To prepare for this Ironman event, Dover and his Tri-Loco teammates began their training at Athletic Republic in South Miami, and continued under the guidance of triathlon coach Ryan Shiling.

Dover has also trained with former UM track coach, Mike Ward. He swims in Biscayne Bay when most people are still sleeping and has logged biking and running miles all over the U.S. when traveling for work in such cities as Flagstaff, Arizona, El Paso, Texas and Greenville, South Carolina.

At Dover, Kohl & Partners, established by Dover and his partner Joseph Kohl in 1987, the team focuses on the creation and restoration of real neighborhoods as the basis for sound communities. Dover was cited by Architecture magazine as being among ‘”the country’s best urban designers.”

“Running in these cities clears my mind and helps me with the process,” said Dover. “I see the city in a different way and I find surprises on foot that I could never find looking out of a windshield.”


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