Dartmouth Medicine HomeCurrent IssueAbout UsContact UsSearchPodcasts

Student proves his Ironman mettle

First-year Dartmouth medical student John Raser has faced tests of more than his mind since the beginning of the school year. On August 25, he challenged the limits of his body and spirit by competing in the Boulder, Colo., Ironman 5,430 Triathlon—named for the elevation at which the race occurs. Competitors swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and finish by running a full marathon—26.2 miles.

John Raser did a triathlon in memory of a friend who died on 9/11.

A 2001 Dartmouth College graduate, Raser had always thought he might someday do a triathlon. So when he heard in September 2001 about a scholarship being established in memory of his friend Juan Cisneros, a 1999 Dartmouth graduate who perished in the attack on the World Trade Center, Raser decided to honor Cisneros and raise funds for his scholarship by competing in the Boulder Ironman.

Raser and Cisneros first met during the summer of 1996 while both were working as junior volunteers at the Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, Calif., where they grew up. They crossed paths again in the fall of 1997, when Raser joined Cisneros's fraternity and Cisneros was Raser's "big brother."

"Juan was always a comforting voice for me and others that he touched during his life," recalls Raser. "He was the kind of person that made everyone he met feel important."

Raser, who hopes to enter preventive medicine, admits that "at times I thought I was crazy going after an Ironman when I had never even run a marathon before, but I knew I had to do something colossal if I was going to attempt to honor Juan." His training suggested he could finish the inhumane race in 13 hours. "My goal from day one was just to finish."

That goal seemed in jeopardy halfway through the marathon when his leg muscles locked up. "I was literally dragging my feet the last 10 miles, trying only to keep moving until next aid station. By the time of my last lap, I knew was going to finish, no matter if I had to walk or crawl." And finish he did—not only first in his age group, but in a time of just over 11 hours. -A.T.

If you would like to offer any feedback about this article, we would welcome getting your comments at DartMed@Dartmouth.edu.

Back to Vital Signs

Dartmouth Medical SchoolDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical CenterWhite River Junction VAMCNorris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth College