NHS phys ed teacher trains for triathlon in honor of his mentor, Jack Jones

Terry Hagenbuch will swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles, and run a full marathon – 26.2 miles – on July 26 at the Lake Placid Ironman Triathlon. Hagenbuch, who teaches physical education at Norwich High School, is competing in an effort to raise money for the Blazeman Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that funds ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) research.

He trains several hours every day, and has done so since the first of this year to prepare for what is widely considered the ultimate physical challenge. It’s a study of focus, perseverence, and dedication that has few equals in a competitive setting. And Hagenbuch’s motivation is a simple one: He wants to honor the man who gave him his start at his alma mater, Jack Jones.

During his professional career, Jones served as a longtime director of athletics in Section IV, his last decade-plus stint at Norwich High School. Less than five years ago, Jones was diagnosed with ALS, a disease that usually ends in the person’s death three to five years after the initial diagnosis. Jones is able to speak and think as well as ever, and Norwich High School’s athletic office still leans on Jones’ expertise whenever there is a question that needs an answer. Yet, the disease has ravaged his body and taken away the use of his arms and legs.

“What I am doing is easy,” Hagenbuch said. “Everything is easy compared to what Jack is going through.”

The idea for Hagenbuch to run in a triathlon first surfaced four years ago when he attended a physical education conference. Hagenbuch spoke to another man at the conference who had finished a triathlon, and Hagenbuch said (completing a triathlon) sounded like another challenge. “If I was going to do it, I was going to be for a good reason,” Hagenbuch said. “It was going to be for Jack. He was the one who gave me my start here, and he allowed me to come back and work at my alma mater.”

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