Christina Bromme, a sixth-grade science teacher at Oak Harbor Intermediate School, is welcomed back by her students from the Ironman World Championships in Kona.

Oak Harbor science teacher back from Ironman championships

Dehydrated from the hot, humid weather of Kona, Hawaii an Oak Harbor science teacher still managed to swim, bike and run 140.6 miles to the finish of the 2017 Ironman World Championship.

Christina Bromme’s tremendous accomplishment did not go unrecognized by her students upon her return to Oak Harbor Intermediate School last week. With the guidance of Bromme’s teaching partner Evett Morgan-Mueller, the kids spent three weeks making huge signs to congratulate Bromme.

“I was very surprised, I didn’t expect anything,” she said.

Although the noise the 11 and 12-year-olds made in the hall drew her out before they had finished arranging themselves, Bromme patiently waited with her back turned to still get the full surprise effect.

Bromme finished the race, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run, in 14:48:45—not her best time, but good considering the conditions.

Not used to the heat and humidity, Bromme said she began to get dizzy on the run and had to speed walk for a while. During the bike ride she said one section involved a climb of around 600 feet over 20 miles, and she was riding into a strong headwind the entire way.

“It was a constant struggle to push forward,” she said.

Her body was also tired given the intense year of competition she’s had. In April she ran the Boston marathon, in June she competed in a half Ironman in Victoria, B.C. and in July she won her age group in Ironman Canada. Her win qualified her for the world championship race in Kona.

“People tell me I need more time to recover between races,” said Bromme. “But I wanted to do Kona.”

Bromme has been a teacher in Oak Harbor for 11 years, although she had to take a year off of teaching in 2014 after she was hit by a drunk driver while training. Her thyroid and sinuses still have issues because of the accident, and she might need another surgery. Her breathing is impacted because one of her nostrils isn’t completely functional.

“Altogether, I’m pretty grateful it doesn’t really hinder me,” she said.

Her doctor told her that her fitness and health aided in her relatively quick recovery. She competed in an Ironman competition only six months after the accident.

“I was limited, and I was not very fast,” she said. “But I did it.”

Staying fit while working full time as a teacher can create a difficult schedule to manage. Most mornings she wakes up around 4:30 a.m. and either heads to the pool or does a workout at home. After work, she completes another session. On the weekends she will do her longer bike ride and longer run. In one day she’s often exercising for six hours.

“I have a hard time sitting,” she said.

She trains with her husband who also competes in Ironman races. Sometimes she has also been able to compete in the same races as her daughter, who is a professional triathlete. Her daughter is the one who inspired her and her husband to start triathlons.

Bromme wants people to know it’s never too late to start the sport. She picked up triathlons at age 50.

“I don’t feel my age,” she said. “I’m 60, oh well, it doesn’t mean anything to me.”