By BERNIE BELLAN
On Sunday, February 17, Marty Halprin died of an apparent heart attack in Tucson, Arizona, after having competed in something that he loved doing for most of his life: racing a bike.
The death of someone who was the epitome of fitness came as a shock to Marty’s many friends, not to mention his family. As the long-time owner of Celia’s Jewellery (more recently Marty’s Gold and Jewellery), Marty Halprin had developed a reputation for expertise and candor in a business permeated with charlatans.
I first met Marty almost 30 years ago, when Celia’s Jewellery and The Jewish Post began developing a long relationship. Marty had a zany sense of humour. I especially enjoyed reading the copy for his ads in our paper. Marty would ask me: “Do you think this is too crazy to put in?”, when he would use words like “chazerai” and “chachkes” in ads that were bound to be read by a great many non-Jews. I would always encourage him to go with his use of Yiddish idioms. Whether it brought him customers I don’t know, but it certainly set him apart from anyone else in the jewellery business.
In October, 1995 I wrote a story about Marty in which I described the incredible summer of endurance racing he had just completed. Looking back on the degree to which he challenged himself, one can’t help but wonder at the toll that subjecting his body to such enormous exertion over the years took. Still, for those of us who had the good fortune to know Marty Halprin, he was hardly one to adhere to the normal rules that govern the vast majority of the population. Ever a non-conformist, he will probably go down as the greatest endurance athlete our Jewish community here has ever produced.
Following is the story that first appeared in the October 18, 1995 issue of The Jewish Post & News
Local businessman completes amazing summer of endurance competitions
By BERNIE BELLAN
So you think you’re fit, do you?
Once you have finished reading this story, even the fittest and hardiest among you might want to reconsider your definition of "fitness".
Marty Halprin is the well- known owner of Celia's Jewel1ery.
Anyone who has seen Halprin at work inside his store on Portage Avenue would know by now that he's not one to overdress. His usual garb consists of a T-shirt, Jeans and running shoes.
There is nothing about Halprin's appearance, however, that would lead one to think that he is also an athlete capable of incredible feats of endurance.
Yet, this past summer, Marty Halprin entered and completed an astounding series of endurance competitions, capped off by the Canadian Iron Man Competition, held in Penticton, B.C. on August 27.
Just consider the schedule Halprin maintained for himself, beginning last winter:
• Monday evenings – swam three kilometres
• Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday - cycled 30-40 miles (The cutoff occurred when the temperature dropped below 25 degrees Celsius.)
• Wednesday and Sunday - ran 6-12 miles plus weight training twice a week.
Starting in July, began entering competitions:
l. July 8 – 1/2 Iron Man, Morden: swam 1.2 miles, cycled 56 miles, ran 13miles
2. July 16 - Olympic distance triathlon in Pinawa: swam 1500 metres, cycled 25 miles, ran 10 kilometres
3. July 22 - August 6: entered series of Olympic distance triathlons. (Altogether Halprin entered four Olympic distance competitions this past summer, winning two and finishing second in a third.) Halprin also finished second in the Provincial Master's (age 40 and over) cycling race.
4. August 13 - entered Riding Mountain Olympic distance triathlon.
5. August 20 - entered the Canadian Olympic distance triathlon championship, Ft. McMurray, Alberta
6. August 27 - entered and completed the Canadian Iron Man Triathlon, held in Penticton, British Columbia, considered by many to be the most grueling Iron Man competition in the world. Finishing time: 12 hours, 10 minutes (placing 730th out of 1588). To give you an idea of the calibre of the competition, the winner finished in an astounding 8 hours, 57 minutes.
WHAT MOTIVATES MARTY HALPRIN?
Now that you've been given a good idea of the enormity of Halprin's achievements, here is a profile of the man, what motivates him, and how he finds time to pursue a goal that is almost beyond believing:
Born 44 years ago in Winnipeg, Halprin developed an aptitude for endurance events in his teens, when he began running cross-country. At 16, Halprin took up bike racing, which he considers his strongest area of competition.
Always a good swimmer, it was only eight years ago that he entered his first triathlon, considered by many athletic experts to be the most complete athletic challenge.
Asked why he drives himself so mercilessly as an athlete, Halprin says: "I've been doing it all my life. I enjoy the competition." The "most gratifying feeling" for him during the Canadian lronman came, he says, as he was" getting close to the finish line, hearing all the spectators cheering you on."
How docs his intense schedule of training affect the time Halprin spends with his family, I wondered. "
Ask my wife (Celia)," he answers. "Time management is the key."
At the same time, Halprin was determined not to let his hectic training schedule conflict with time spent with his two children, Nathan and Stephanie.
"Almost all my training is done in the early morning (Halprin gets up at 6:30 a.m. when he is in training) or later in the evening, so as not to interfere with my kids," he explains.
As for his relationship with Celia, Halprin concedes that his "wife puts up with a lot, but she's been putting up with this for 25 years."
PENTICTON IRON MAN -"PROS COULDN'T RUN UP SOME HILLS"
More than anything else, Halprin wanted to describe in detail the enormity of the challenge posed by the Canadian lron Man Triathlon in Penticton.
"Some of the hills in the run (which formed the final portion of the competition) were so steep that even some of the professionals couldn't run up them," Halprin says.
When you are in the marathon portion of the race, "you have to be extremely careful because you're low in glycogen and somewhat dehydrated," he explains. Yet, every runner must be vigilant about what they will have eaten both before and during the race.
For Halprin, the main nourishment came from Gatorade during the marathon, starting with double strength, and eventually finishing with a regular strength drink. "By that time I just couldn't handle the sweetness any more. I had a hard time looking at Gatorade after the race. It was more than a week before I was able to even take another drink of Gatorade."
The only other solid food that Halprin consumed during the entire triathlon consisted of bananas. "They take up space in your stomach and they won't upset you," he notes.
Of the 1588 individuals who entered the Iron Man, according to Halprin, over 400 went into the medical tent. Some were simply treated for blisters (which Halprin also developed beginning at the 11-mile mark), but others were treated for more serious ailments, including heat stroke and dehydration. IV's were administered to a number of athletes, he says.
Although the temperature climbed to 78 degrees Fahrenheit, by 4:00 p.m. it started to cool off. Unfortunately, the blisters on Halprin's feet left him unable to run without slowing down to a walk for longer and longer periods.
"I started running much slower after the half way point of the marathon," he notes. (Bear in mind, in case you've forgotten, that Halprin had already completed a 3.8-mile swim and a 112-mile bike race.) There were aid stations every mile. My strategy had been to run between the aid stations and walk through them, taking a sip of Gatorade."
By 4:30 Halprin had reached his lowest ebb in the race. "I was walking much longer around the aid stations, longing for the finish. 1 started to play mental games with myself to stay motivated."
But, by persevering, Halprin managed to reach the finish line some three hours later. Each competitor was greeted at the finish line by an appointed volunteer whose job it was to ensure the athlete was all right. At that point Halprin says he felt the greatest feeling of accomplishment that he had ever felt in his life.
NO TRIATHLONS IN PICTURE FOR NEXT SUMMER
After such an incredible summer of achievement for Marty Halprin, what plans does he have for the future?
"It's pretty hard to do two Iron Mans in a row," he says. "I'm going to concentrate on bike road racing and short course triathlons (Olympic distance) next summer to improve my times."
He also plans to attend to his successful business career and spend time with his wife and kids. When it comes to setting goals and achieving them, Marty Halprin can only leave the rest of us shaking our heads in astonishment.