Tied to a Tri
Through endurance events, a trio of Drake alumni have cemented their bonds of brotherhood
When Doug Schaefer, as’99, and Rob Fornoff, as’97, first met in 1995, theirs was an informal acquaintance, forged by the bonds of a shared university and a fraternity. Although Fornoff was two years older, he and Schaefer kept in touch after graduation, staying casual friends for a dozen years.
And then came the Hy-Vee Triathlon.
Unless you’ve been living in forested backwoods with no television or Internet access, you’ve probably noticed that endurance competitions such as triathlons have exploded in popularity; there are currently more than 3,500 sanctioned events nationwide. So Rob and Doug were intrigued when they received an email from another Drake alumnus and avid triathlete, Nolan Mitchell, as’95, gauging their interest in the Hy-Vee Tri.
Fornoff, Schaefer and another friend, Tyler Schwiesow, as’99, all thought it “sounded really cool,” says Schaefer, who lives in the Omaha area and is a middle school principal. “We all did sports in high school and participated in intramurals. When you finish college, the opportunities aren’t there anymore to get back in shape.”
Before and after that first race in 2007, Fornoff, Schwiesow, and Schaefer shared tips, logging workouts at www.beginnertriathlete.com and posting comments to shore each other up. That year was a learning experience.
“I didn’t know how to run, bike and swim well for endurance,” says Fornoff. “Going up and down in a pool a few times is different than doing it for 1,500 meters.”
Since then Fornoff, a pediatrician, and Schaefer have lost count of the tris they’ve done, but it numbers at least 30. Fornoff has competed in the Hy-Vee Tri four of the last five years; Schaefer has competed in them all. They’ve participated together, as a trio with Schwiesow, who is a doctor of internal medicine, and individually.
But beyond the sweat and the aching muscles, the recharge time and the camaraderie of race days, there’s something more for these three. They are all married and have at least two kids and busy careers. They started five years ago with a distant, tenuous connection and have built that into something more than simply exercising postcollege.
“It’s turned into a way to stay connected,” says Fornoff. “We did this to get in shape, and that’s a good goal. But even more than that, it’s about us getting together and staying in touch, and we are better friends for it.”
— Kelly Roberson, JO’92