LAKE PLACID — Logan Franks reached a point where he thought his professional triathlon career might be over.
He ended up in the hospital after an Ironman race last year. This season, his second as a pro, was temporarily derailed by an injury. And he went through the financial strains the sport can cause, too.
Sunday made it all worth it.
“Everything,” the former Keeseville resident said after placing eighth among professional men at Ironman Lake Placid.
“For a while there, I was losing hope. I almost stopped racing. I lost faith, I went into depression. I had nothing. Now to be able to come back, have this — and I’m back. This is the proudest moment of my life. I’m so glad.”
Franks completed the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run in 9 hours, 37 minutes,
3 seconds for his best career finish at an Ironman and his first time in the top 10.
Charlie Cowan of Lake Placid was the fastest local age-group athlete, and fellow Lake Placid resident Joni Gerken was the top local female.
Franks attended AuSable Valley Central School and Plattsburgh State and now lives in Syracuse. The 24-year-old has drastically improved his swim this season and was the seventh pro out of Mirror Lake on Sunday. He said he went out too hard on the first loop of the bike course but reeled himself in, felt great on the second loop and even better on the run.
“That was the best race of my life,” Franks said. “I’ve spent so much time trying to learn how to swim, and to do what I did out there (Sunday), I just had a smile across my face.”
The Lake Placid race was the one that launched Franks’ career. He finished 11th overall as an age-grouper in 2010, his first Ironman, and by the end of that year he had decided to turn pro.
Sunday he was inspired by cheers from his hometown crowd, and he spotted AuSable Forks’ Scott Bombard, who coached him last year, near the end.
“I’m so happy I could share it with him and have him here with me and just be able to represent all the people I grew up with and biked with and the people who really introduced me to the sport,” he said. “I’ve never heard my name so many times. The support was overwhelming.
“And I couldn’t force myself to ever walk or anything. I needed to push myself to show these guys I would do anything in the world to represent them in the right way.”
Cowan’s day didn’t go as smoothly, but it was still gratifying.
He had a rough swim, getting kicked in the goggles and hit in the head, and the bike and run were painful, too. He guessed this was his sixth time competing in the race.
“I had probably my worst day ever. It was my worst time by a long shot,” he said. “But if you get through something that’s really difficult, it’s almost better than when it goes easy. More rewarding in a way.”
Cowan won the Male 60-64 age group with a time of 11:21:20, which put him 238th overall.
He was back in the race for the first time in seven years.
“I turned 60 and the thoughts and memories of the pain involved in it slipped away. It looked like fun again,” he said. “It is. It’s good. I’m glad I did it.”
Another Lake Placid athlete, Richard Erenstone, won the next age group up, Male 65-69 (13:31:10).
Jeffrey Burdo of Morrisonville crossed the line in 11:37:29, 44th in the Male 45-49 category and 306th overall. He said he had a strong bike ride and the run also went well, and he felt pretty good afterward.
The accomplishment was a long time coming for him, and he got choked up talking about that.
“For about two years I’ve been wanting to do this,” he said. “I’ve been planning this for about two years. It all came together.”
Gerken said she felt “awesome” after reaching the finish line. She added that the bike went really well. Maybe too well — it may have taken away from her run, which is usually her best discipline.
She clocked 11:43:29 to finish 13th in the Female 30-34 group and 352ind overall. Gerken competed in the Ironman four years ago and wanted to see if she could top that performance.
“I’m just a lot more athletic than when I first did it, and I just wanted to see if I could beat my time,” she said. She beat it by 45 minutes.
Steven Vargo of Lake Placid also came in under the 12-hour mark, finishing in 11:47:38 for eighth place in the Male 18-24 category, and AuSable Forks native Jacob Painter was right behind him at ninth place in the same group (11:53:49).
Gerken, for one, planned to give herself a well-earned reward Sunday night.
“I’m gonna have a beer,” she said with a laugh.
Email Courtney Lewis: firstname.lastname@example.org