Sam Gutknecht is passionate about helping others as a police officer for the City of Wyoming. He’s also passionate about his family—he’s been married to his wife Aubrey for two years and they have a 9-month-old son, Ephram. When he’s not patrolling the streets in Wyoming or spending time with his family, Sam is busy pursuing another life passion—training for the Ironman Florida triathlon, happening this November in Panama City Beach. We talked to Sam about working in Wyoming, his demanding training schedule, and what inspires him to compete in endurance races.
When did you start competing in endurance races?
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved riding my bicycle, but it wasn’t until 2019 that I got into endurance events. In May of 2019, I rode in the Police Unity Tour, a 250-mile bike ride over the course of three days from Portsmouth, Virginia, to Washington D.C. It’s a ride in remembrance of law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. Each member is required to raise a minimum of $2,000 in order to participate, and the amazing residents of Wyoming helped me quickly surpass the $2,000 requirement!
What does training involve? Give us a snapshot of your training schedule.
Typically I do three swims, three bike rides, three runs, and one or two strength workouts throughout the week. It’s an average of about 12–15 hours a week. Sometimes this means getting up at 3 a.m. to get a workout in, as well as some long training days on my days off so that I can get my training done without sacrificing time with my family. This is where I have to give my wife a shout-out. I am so grateful to have such an amazing wife. I wouldn’t be able to do this without her love and support.
What’s been your most memorable moment so far in a previous event?
The last race I completed was big for me in several ways. It was the longest race I had competed in so far. It was an Ironman 70.3 (Half Ironman), however, the swim was canceled due to weather conditions. The race was on June 27, a year to the day of a wreck on my bicycle that left me with a broken elbow and three broken vertebrae. So, to come back a year later and prove to myself I could still do it meant a lot. Also, this was my first race since Ephram was born, so it was awesome to see him on the sidelines cheering with my wife and parents.
One of the things I love the most is that the residents of Wyoming have been very supportive and welcoming. I really appreciate that while I’m out driving around, so many people take a second to stop and wave or express their gratitude. I also enjoy the opportunity to get out and meet some of the residents for reasons outside of law enforcement, getting to know them on a more personal level.
How does your athletic training help you perform your job?
The events I’m training for require that I’m not only physically fit, but mentally fit. My training helps me to perform my job because I need to be physically capable of handling whatever I may encounter throughout the day, but also mentally prepared to handle any situation I am faced with.
What inspires you to compete in endurance events?
At this point in my life, I think my “why” is to prove not only to myself that I can do this but to set an example for my children that anything is possible. Also, it will hopefully inspire others to become more active or simply find something they are passionate about in life.
Good luck, Sam! We wish you the best when you compete in Ironman Florida!