Subscribe to our email list
MUDEC Méinden Fall 2021 #6
MUDEC Méinden Fall 2021 #6
Miami UniversityJohn E. Dolibois European Center logo
MUDEC Méinden-Weekly news from the MUDEC community for the MUDEC community-#lifelongMUDEC

Fall 2021 #6

October 4, 2021

Meet MUDEC's Ironman Competitors

by Maddie Kelley, MUDEC newsletter intern
Editor's Note: An Ironman Triathlon consists of a swim, a bicycle ride and a run. It is widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world.
Noah and Keenan clown around after the competition
Study, engage, travel. Those are MUDEC’s words to live by during a semester in Luxembourg. Two juniors, Noah Ragan and Keenan Bellisari, decided to add “compete in an Ironman.” After sitting down with both of them, I learned more about why they completed this race and their thoughts before, during, and after. 
Did either of you have previous marathonor even sports experiencebefore this?
Noah: We both played lacrosse in high school. During the pandemic when we all got sent home, I got really into running and was running half marathons every week. Of course that was over a year ago, so I have lost a lot of that cardio strength, but we were just big team sport guys.
Keenan: We have a lot of similarities in what led up to the event. Our background in generalwe're very active people. We both did swim a little when we were younger, but we weren’t track and field guys, we weren’t cyclists. It was all sort of a new skill we took up to stay active.
What inspired you to compete in this race?
Noah: I’ve always wanted to do one. In high school, I knew some older guys who did it and I thought it was really cool. I think location was really important, and so last May when we both got into MUDEC, I approached Keenan and asked if he wanted to do an Ironman abroad. He actually had some interest in it before I came to him. We started looking at locations all over Europe and ended up with Ironman 70.3 Luxembourg - Région Moselle.
We’re also young enough that we don’t need to train for two years. Three months of hard training can put you in good enough shape. Kept us motivated over the summer.
Keenan: My motivation before Noah approached me was my mom. Within the last 10 years, she has gotten into cycling and competed in triathlons, and she always told me to get into it. This was the perfect opportunity. It forced me to work out all summer, and we held each other accountable as well. Coming into Luxembourg, it's fair to say that I was probably in the best shape I've been in the past two years, if not my life. It was really good for us altogether.
What were your feelings that day before and after the race?
Noah: We were definitely worried about what could go wrong. A week before, I got a flat tire and had to get a new tire in France. I wanted to test it out, so this was my final ride. My bike wheel got stuck in a crack, and it bent and broke. Also, over the summer we both got injured while training. Finishing was the goal; we didn’t try to place.
Keenan: The whole week of the race it was definitely the only thing on our minds. That week, a lot of things weren't going our way. We were joking that maybe it wasn't meant to be, but when we finished it was one of the most rewarding feelings of my life. Knowing that Noah came up to me in April or May with this idea... it was a pretty crazy idea at the time, but it was super cool knowing that it all pays off.
What made it even more rewarding was that there were so many obstacles to overcome. When we finished, we were surprised. We’re not super familiar with the area, so when things started to go wrong, we couldn’t hop in the car and go to the local bike store. It was a lot of trying to get on this train and this bus; and trying to speak English and converse. Culturally there were a lot of obstacles that we went through. Things like that...when we finished, it felt good.
Noah and Keenan wearing their medals and celebrating at the finish line The Ironman gate Noah and Keenan wearing medals and celebrating
What was the best and worst part of the race?
Noah: Other than finishing, the best part was the bike portion. The first part goes up and down the Moselle River, which is absolutely beautiful because you’re going through all these vineyards. We were together at that point so that was pretty cool.
The support was nice too. Everyone Is cheering you on. Everybody has their first name on the bib, and these little kids would scream "Go Noah," and it was just wholesome.
The worst part was the run; it was pretty painful. The moment you get off the bike after going up and down these hills and you realize you still have to run a half marathon, that’s a little demoralizing.
Keenan: The 54 mile bike ride was the hardest bike ride in our entire lives. It’s not like we had to go for a little run; we had to run 13 miles. My worst part was stepping off my bike and trying to fathom, "Wow, I have to run." My knee has still been bothering me since June, so when I got off the bike I couldn’t run. It was more of a fast walk/jog.
There were definitely times where I doubted being able to finish, but I think somewhere halfway through the run I was like, "I think I’m going to finish this Ironman." There were three people from America and we had our flag on the bib, so we definitely got a little extra attention.
What would you say was your biggest takeaway from this experience?
Noah: Being a problem solver throughout the process. There’s always a solution. It started with "How do we get a bike? All of this is on a budget." Then "How do we get the bike from the United States to Europe?" "Swimming is cancelled. How do we swim?" "Oh, a stress fracture in my foot, how am I going to get that better before the race?" Every time a problem came up, we were able to find a solution, which was kind of cool.
Keenan: You can do anything you set your mind to, as cliché as that sounds. We didn’t just sign up for some fun race, and it was our first time doing something like this. It was kind of a big deal. I don’t know if we ever did realize what we got ourselves into, but we did it and it goes to show: don't be scared of anything.
The equipment that you need is a lot more than we originally thought we needed. We were getting all of our stuff secondhand, and then had to travel with it.
What did you end up doing for the swim since it was cancelled?
Noah: I thought we could just go find another, but there are only three man-made lakes in Luxembourg. The one where the race was supposed to take place had blue algae in it. And it was illegal to swim in the Moselle River.
Our host dad was pretty invested in us completing this race. On a Thursday, he drove us an hour and a half to the other lake. We thought we could get up at 3am, swim, hop in the car, and then do the race and complete it all. A week later the Luxembourg government put out an announcement saying that swimming is also banned in that lake due to blue algae.
We went to the gym and did it after the race within 24 hours, so technically it still counts. We were over-prepared for the swimming, and when it got cancelled we were pretty down. We were so sore though. It was a good feeling that even though it got cancelled, we still did the full thing.
Keenan: The night before the race, we went to go see this last lake. We were going to have to wake up ridiculously early to go swim. We got to this lake and it was a pond. It was probably 10 feet deep, but the algae went up seven feet. We both jumped in and felt the algae creep up your body.
What advice would you give to an incoming MUDEC student who also wanted to do this?
Noah: I would say start training five months in advance. We trained in three months, which is the bare minimum to be able to finish. Know what you're getting into, and prepare a little more.
Keenan: Know what they’re getting themselves into. I really recommend it, but just know what you’re getting into. It's extremely rewarding, it's an awesome event, but it's all around a big commitment.
You have to put together a good schedule as well. I think that was something that was very important to us. You have to be very determined. You can’t slack off.
Ironman 70.3 Luxembourg-Region Moselle

Visiting Heidelberg

by Hannah Horsington, MUDEC newsletter intern
Hannah in Heidelberg
This past weekend I traveled to Heidelberg, Germany, and it was one of my favorite places that I’ve been so far! My parents visited Heidelberg about 20 years ago and loved it, so I knew I wanted to go as well!
Heidelberg is located in the Baden-Württemberg region of southwestern Germany. In addition to Germany’s oldest university, Heidelberg also features a historic “old town” area, as well as a beautiful building that keeps watch over the town: the Heidelberg Castle.
We planned to spend most of our short time in Heidelberg at the castle, which turned out to be a good plan, as it took us almost seven hours to explore all parts of the castle and the three levels of the mountain surrounding it! We wandered around the castle grounds, explored the German Apothecary Museum, and took a guided tour (offered in English) inside the castle. Our tour guide explained that some of her favorite visitors are Americans, because we have such a large love for castlesbecause we don’t have any at home!
We also purchased tickets that allowed us to take a tram to the very top level of the mountain, where we had a fantastic view of the entire city to end our visit. We met a group of tourists from India who offered to take our picture, and so of course we took theirs, and we ended up having a little impromptu photo shoot at the top of the mountain.
After we left the castle, we made our way to old Heidelberg, which is exactly what I picture when I think of an old German town. A beautiful old church sat in the middle of the town, surrounded by restaurants, shops and tons of cafés. We found a place to eat dinner and were able to sit outside, where we took the chance to relax and just take in the city. One of my favorite things to do is "people watch," and sitting on the sidewalk in such a picturesque town, just watching everyone walk by, was such a cool experience.
Heidelberg may not necessarily be everyone’s first choice when they’re considering where to take a weekend trip, but I absolutely loved it! Visiting large, popular cities is fun, but my advice to future MUDECers is to pick at least one city that is a little bit “out there” for one of your weekend tripsit may end up being your favorite place!
Heidelberg church and square Hannah flings up her arms in the square View of Heidelberg from above

Discovery Tour to Dinant, Belgium

by Meta Hoge, MUDEC newsletter intern
Over the weekend, I participated in the discovery tour to Dinant, Belgium. After about a two-hour bus ride, our first stop was to Notre-Dame de Leffe, an abbey founded in 1152. The water was not very safe to drink, so the monks living there built a brewery in 1240 and created the Leffe beer to provide a healthier alternative. We learned about the brewing process as well as the ingredients in the different flavors and saw some of the brewing equipment. After our self-guided tour, everyone was free to explore Dinant.
My friends and I ate lunch at a restaurant along the Meuse River and enjoyed the famous Belgian pommes frites and carbonnade. Once we were finished eating, we walked along the river and went to some of the shops. After exploring, we made a stop for some Belgian waffles, and then it was time to meet back up at the bus.
A few of my friends and I decided to stay overnight in Belgium, so we had more time in Dinant. We visited the Citadelle de Dinant, which was built in 1815. The fortress is on a cliff overlooking the city, so we were able to take a cable car ride up to it. The view of Dinant from the top was incredible. The history of the citadel was also very interesting and I enjoyed being able to walk through it
We took the cable car back down to the main street and then went to Notre Dame de Dinant, a 13th century Gothic cathedral. The architecture of the cathedral was my favorite part because I’ve never seen a church like it before. After we saw the church, we left to catch our train to Mechelen.
I loved my visit to Dinant because it is a very charming little city. Even though I most likely wouldn’t have chosen to visit it on my own, it is one of my favorite places I’ve been while studying abroad so far.

Follow MUDEC on Social Media

Facebook Instagram LinkedIn YouTube
We are happy to share MUDEC events and news with all of you! If you no longer wish to receive the newsletter per GDPR, please unsubscribe below.
powered by emma