by Mike Jones

It took some time for Jacob Barnes, former Northview High School cross country team runner, to cross the finish line of the recent Boulder Ironman competition, something that can take anyone a long time. However, for Jacob the trip involved a torn hip labrum which took some years off his potential schedule to get to that finish line. Despite the interruption, he finished where every runner wants to be–first in his age group. Competing along with Barnes was Dr. Harry Zeitler, a Northview cross country teammate.
After high school, Barnes enrolled at the University of Toledo and joined the cross-country team. Everything was moving along well until his second year when the labrum issue arose. Eventually it was determined that the injury would require surgery, which was performed by the doctor for the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. The torn labrum, the surgery and the rehab necessary ended his cross country competitions, but Barnes is grateful to UT for giving him what is known as a medical disqualification, which allowed him to remain on scholarship.
This also allowed him to use UT facilities to stay in shape and that’s where he met another rehabing track athlete from Indiana, Kristal Studer, who is now his wife. ​The couple traveled after graduation, spending some time at the University of South Carolina where she got a job and he worked as a volunteer track coach. Barnes was gradually able to run and in order to keep his aerobic level high he began to swim regularly.
The following year, Kristal was offered a position at the University of Utah and when she told him about the scenery and the elevation for training opportunities off they went. She is an academic adviser to the University of Utah football team and Barnes is using his business degree as the footwear buyer for the three-store Salt Lake Running Co.
While “swimming every single day,” someone asked Barnes if he had considered competing in triathlons. He began training for the events which include running, swimming and bicycling. Success in those events led him to consider Ironman competitions, which involve a swim of 2.4 miles, bicycling 112 miles and finishing with a marathon-distance run of 26.2 miles.
Last year he completed the Texas Ironman and, by coming in first in the Boulder event, he has qualified for the world championship in Kona Hawaii set for Oct. 12.
He recently said, as he sat with a cup of coffee on the porch of his Utah home, “This is healing time. I’ll get back to training soon. October sounds like a long time, but it’s not.”
The discomfort from the labrum issue has eased over time and he noted that when on a run with his wife recently he told her that he didn’t feel it. It has been an issue but as he continued to run over time the discomfort has eased. Barnes credits his wife for her support, saying she was up at 4 am with him for the event in Boulder and stayed with him until about 9 pm when his friend finished the race.
Barnes’s race companion, Dr. Zeitler, recently completed medical school and stayed in good shape throughout that grind. He is the son of recently retired John Zeitler, retired Sylvania Township administrator. Zeitler didn’t have the smooth race experience Barnes had. He told his father he was struggling during the bike segment and feared that the altitude might be taking a toll. At about the 12-mile mark a passing cyclist told him his rear tire was flat. The flat cost him time and it took about 10 minutes to fix the tire. Nevertheless, he finished the race.