Tim’s trifecta: WIU employee, alum runs through fire (literally) to support students

“With each race, I offer the opportunity for them to ‘sponsor’ me with a gift to the new scholarship for Phonathon students. In doing so, I want them to feel that my accomplishments in the Spartan Race Series are also their accomplishment in support of our students. The result is some well-deserved assistance for at least one Phonathon student, who through the course of their work, has secured scholarship assistance for many others.” — Tim Hallinan, Western Alumnus and WIU Director of Annual Giving
Tim Hallinan - Spartan Racer

Would you ever run through fire for your job? Or slog through stinky mud? Or heave huge tractor tires around on a hot day?

Tim Hallinan would… and he does! Well… he does it for himself, too, but he also does it to help support Western students.

As the director of annual giving at Western, Tim manages the Student Phonathon Program, which occurs each semester at WIU and employs students who reach out to alumni and parents and ask for support. “Taking a moment to speak with us is a great way to stay connected to Western, ask questions and offer your support to the Annual Fund,” the program’s website states. He also competes in the Spartan Race series, and in 2013, “hit” the trifecta, when he finished three obstacle course race (OCR) challenges in a calendar year.

Tim Hallinan, WIU '95 and the director of annual giving in Western's Foundation and Development Office, earned "Trifecta" status in 2013 in the Spartan Race series.

Tim Hallinan, WIU ’95 and the director of annual giving in Western’s Foundation and Development Office, earned “Trifecta” status in 2013 in the Spartan Race series.

I’ve known Tim, one of the most committed and conscientious people I’ve ever met, for many years (full disclosure… I worked with him at another organization in Macomb, when we were enrolled at WIU as traditionally aged students, and I was in his wedding in what seems like an eternity ago, no offense, Tim ;-). Thus, it was no surprise to me when I heard he was going to compete in these crazy challenges and take his dedication to the next level—for himself, his alma mater, and his employer.

Last December, when his lovely wife, Jeri, posted some more of the photos of his OCR adventures on Facebook, I knew I had to share.

Below is a brief Q&A about his trifecta accomplishment. I think it demonstrates why he is the embodiment of  a WIU #SuccessStory.

Q). Tell me about how you got started doing these Spartan Races. Why punish yourself like this? Isn’t just exercising enough?

A). After my National Guard career, I was looking for something to keep me fit, but also hold my interest. What I found in OCR was exactly that—plus a sense of achievement that is a step beyond a 5K time or number on a scale. There is also a sense of camaraderie among many OCR racers. You experience this on any course in the country when a stranger disregards his or her course time to stop to assist you with an obstacle or vice versa.

Q). What does the “trifecta,” in terms of Spartan racing, mean?

Tim HallinanA). The Spartan Race series includes the Spartan Sprint (3+ miles/15 obstacles), the Super Spartan (8+ miles/20 obstacles,) and the Spartan Beast (12+ miles / 25 obstacles). Completing all three distances in a calendar year earns a racer Trifecta Status, and each racer is awarded a special medal to recognize the accomplishment. Longer and even more challenging courses are offered to elite racers, but I’m not quite up to that level just yet. My latest race was the Texas Spartan Beast on December 14th in Glen Rose, Texas, which was the last race of the year, and the last distance I needed to earn the 2013 Trifecta. I previously completed the Spartan Sprint in Indiana (April 2013) and the Super Spartan in Marseilles, IL (July 2013).

Q). How does one go about training for such a competition?

A). A mistake I made early on was not distinguishing “training” from “working out.” Before my first race in October 2012, I really was not focused on fitness goals or nutrition, and it showed in my race time. Now I understand that training needs to be targeted with specific goals in mind, as well as being mindful of what I eat and when I eat it. I’ve conceded that at age 45 I’m not going to win a Spartan Race and am happy with just finishing. I consider any race in which I beat my previous time or complete obstacles I couldn’t complete before personal “wins.”

WIU Phonathon Students

Students who work for the WIU Student Phonathon Program.

Q). How does competing in these races work with the WIU scholarship fund you established?

A). I’m blessed with many friends, family, and former WIU Phonathon employees who support what I do on the course, as well as on the WIU campus. With each race, I offer the opportunity for them to “sponsor” me with a gift to the new scholarship for Phonathon students. In doing so, I want them to feel that my accomplishments in the Spartan Race Series are also their accomplishment in support of our students. The result is some well-deserved assistance for at least one Phonathon student, who through the course of their work, has secured scholarship assistance for many others.

Q). Are you going to be competing in another one? If so, when?

A). Next up for me is the Indiana Sprint on April 26th. I really enjoy this particular course, and am looking forward to it.

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