Team ReserveAid member profiles

Paul Armstrong

Paul was born in New Zealand and moved to Rye NY at the age of 10. He joined the Marine Corps in 1984 and moved to Westfield NJ after getting out of the Marines in 1989 where he currently lives with his wife Beth and 2 sons David and John.

After vowing to never run again once he left the Marines, Paul was able to keep that promise to himself for a full 18 years. After being forced to compete against his against his Sister in Law in the NJ State Tri, Paul realized he loved the sport and become addicted. He has raced in multiple sprint and olympic distance races and completed Ironman Lake Placid in 2010 and 2013 as well as Ironman NYC in 2012. His oldest son has given him the nickname of the “abominable slowman” which only makes him try harder.

Paul was lucky enough to meet John & Jess a few years back as a member of the Central Jersey Tri Club and their passion for ReserveAid was infectious. He is honored to be supporting ReserveAid and the men and women who are currently serving our country. He personally knows the struggles that young Marines face on multiple overseas deployments. He is honored and is looking forward to competing in Ironman Lake Placid with these other athletes under the ReserveAid banner.

Semper Fi!

Gareth Doran

Gareth is from Dublin, Ireland. While growing up in Ireland he was an avid tennis player and played on the Junior Pro Tour as well as representing Ireland in several events. At 18 Gareth came to the US and attended University, he played on the Varsity Tennis team. Since college he has been based in New York working at Itau BBA. This is his second year competing in triathlons, he has been hooked since hearing John Withrow’s stories about the glory of completing an Ironman. Mt Tremblant will be his second Ironman after barely surviving the swim in Lake Placid last year.

Ben Fenton

Ben played lacrosse in college at Duke University where he lettered for 4 years and served as team captain in 2004. Ben’s two brothers also played lacrosse at Duke.
Ben was motivated to sign up for his first half Ironman while lying in his bed the day after his second reconstructive hip surgery. Ben has been hooked to the sport since and participated in his first full Ironman race at the Ironman US Championships in New York City in August 2012. While injured, Ben finished Ironman Lake Placid last yr and hopes to make it to the start line of Mt Tremblant completely healthy so he can really see what he can do.
Ben jumped at the chance to join Team ReserveAid. “A college teammate and good friend of mine was killed in Iraq in 2007. Since then he has raised money for the Lead The Way Fund which raises money for the families of Army Rangers who have been killed or disabled while fighting for this country. ReserveAid serves a very similar purpose and he will be honored to represent this team and our soliders at Mt. Tremblant.”

Daniel Grow

Professionally, Daniel Grow is an infertility doctor, a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the Chair of Women’s Health division for an academic medical center. The things that give him the most joy are his wife and three children, and exercising with his friends. Ten mile trail runs with good conversation and a pack of dogs is what weekends are all about. He started triathlons with his sons, and the oldest decided to do IM Lake Placid at the age of 19. Pretty cool! Team Reserve Aid tempted both he and son Patrick to do IM Tremblant this year. Not willing to turn down this challenge, and trade training schedules via text and phone conversations, he said yes, and is doing his best to train and finish honorably. He looks forward to meeting the rest of the Team, and celebrating at the finish line.

Patrick Grow

Patrick Grow is from Longmeadow, Massachusetts. His first ever triathlon was the Lake Placid Monday Night Mini-Tri when he was 17; from there he did the Quassy Olympic, Timberman Half, and Patriot Half before taking on and finishing Ironman Lake Placid in 2011. After taking 2 years off he is ready to for the challenge of Mont Tremblant and looks forward to racing against (and beating) his Dad who will be racing in his first ever Ironman. In addition to training for the Ironman Patrick plays in a men’s baseball league based in the Bronx, NY. Patrick is also an avid back-country skier and is looking forward to going to Jackson Hole in January!

Greg Kasko

Greg began competitive running at the age of five having run his first full marathon in 1976 by the age of 10. After graduating from Westfield H.S. (NJ) Greg attended Susquehanna University on an athletic grant scholarship where he competed in cross country and spring track earning All-American track & field honors in his junior and senior years. As a police officer, Greg continued a fitness routine in order to keep up with the stress and demands of a law enforcement career. It wasn’t until Greg retired in 2007 that he discovered triathlons after rehabbing a surgically repaired ruptured patella tendon by biking and swimming. As a life-long running enthusiast, it was only natural to combine the three disciplines and compete in the sport of triathlon. At 6’3” and weighing in at 220lbs, the competitive spirit still burns inside of this 48 year old “Clydesdale” always looking for another challenge. He has competed in multiple sprint and Olympic distance triathlons and completed Ironman Lake Placid in 2013.

Honored to have a cousin that recently retired from the United Stated Army as a Colonel, and that same cousin’s wife serving as the United States Army’s first female judge advocate general (3-star General Flora Darpino), as well as having a daughter seeking an ROTC college scholarship, Greg is excited to represent a charitable cause racing at Ironman Mont Tremblant in Quebec, Canada that gives back to those serving in our nation’s military. Supported by his wife Lynda and daughters Sarah and Hayley, Greg continues to set his sights on future Ironman races in his quest to complete “one a year” for the foreseeable future.

Jonathan Lieberman

Jonathan “Liebs” Lieberman overcame weighing 241 lbs, a pack-a-day smoking habit, and a lifelong fear of the water to become a 10x marathoner and 3x Ironman, ultimately lotterying into and successfully completing the 2011 Ironman World Championship at age 39. A devout believer in the Ironman mantra Anything Is Possible, Liebs still uses all things Ironman as a model for dealing with Life’s adversity, still considers himself a Clydesdale at heart, and still will always bet on the underdog to finish a race…especially when it is he himself.

Jonathan continues to be inspired by the love from his two sons Alex and Zach, as well as the unwavering support from his parents Arleen and Joel.

Eric Nietsche

Eric Nietsch grew up in New Canaan, CT and was an all-around athlete from a young age. He was a member of the Colgate Rugby team and entered his first triathlon shortly after finishing college. After winning a smaller race the following year, he met the Reserve Aid team and was quickly motivated to train for an Ironman this summer. He recently completed the Syracuse 70.3 as part of his training, and Eric will run his first full Ironman in Lake Placid at the end of July.

Eric is honored to represent Team Reserve Aid and support those who have served, especially given his family’s history of military support and service. Eric’s sister is recent graduate of the Naval Academy and is currently serving as a Navy pilot out of Virginia Beach, VA.

Kori Martini Retzbach

Kori hails from just outside of Detroit, MI and is looking for her 5th ironman-distance finish in Mont Tremblant this year. Aside from being mom to 3-year-old twins and a 4 year old daughter, and wife to a very supportive firefighter husband, she also works full-time as an engineer. This year has been an experiment in training effectively around a chaotic family schedule in the hopes of landing in the top three of her AG. Her previous PR of 11:25 at Lake Placid last year almost achieved this.

Kori credits John and Jess Withrow for bringing her on board the ReserveAid Team. She’s looking forward to racing with such an incredible group of athletes and for an amazing cause.

Brenda Ross

Brenda Ross started out in multi sport as a duathlete. After 8 years of avoiding the swim, she gave in and signed up for a triathlon. That was 4 years ago. Brenda skipped the sprints, olympics and went straight for the Half Ironmans, where she stayed until last year when she decided to race Ironman Wisconsin. Brenda is no stranger to Mont Tremblant. She raced the 70.3 event last year finishing with a HIM PR. She and her husband reside in Ottawa, Canada. She is looking forward to racing an Ironman on Canadian turf.

Steve Ross

Steve is a 9 time IM finisher from North of the 49 th parallel, Ottawa Canada, the Nations Capitol. He is the proud father of one boy and married 27 yrs to soul and teammate Brenda Ross. Steve joined the Canadian military in 1984 and retired in 2004, after serving 20 yrs. Steve was a medic/operating room nurse and now works at a local community hospital as a surgical nurse. He has been a physically active individual his whole life from racket sports to hockey. His wife Brenda dabbled in duathlon and finally he bit the bullet and began du/triathlon racing over the last 15 yrs from sprints to Ironman. He has completed many marathons and has 2 Boston’s going again in 2015 for a third. Steve enjoys the hard training that gets him to any start line of any race. He would like to thank John Withrow for his infectious personality for including him and his wife in Team ReserveAid. Steve is honoured to represent in adding international flavour and support to the team. I commend all the men and women of uniform and there families. Competing in IMMT 2014 now has taken on a new significance, Bravo Zulu !

Gabriel Szerda

Gabriel Szerda is a former Olympic wrestler for Australia, who lives in New York City with his wife Julia and their little girl Sienna.

“Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” – Never one to shy away from a challenge Gab has recently embarked on conquering ultra endurance events such as Racing the Planet – Australia, Old Pueblo 50 miler and then Ironman Louisville in 2011. Gab recently placed 4th Place in the 155 mile Racing the Planet desert race across the sands of Jordan while proudly representing Team ReserveAid.

Will Tian

Will hails from Sydney, Australia and moved to New York City at the end of 2012 less than a month after completing his university degree. Coming from a tennis background, Will took up triathlon at the beginning of 2011 and fell in love with the sport after his first race in Sydney Harbour.
Since then, Will has completed 4 marathons, 4 half ironmans and and 3 full Ironmans. While he managed to sneak in under 10 hours at Ironman Melbourne in March 2013, he is often reminded that his time is not official given the minor course adjustment. Will was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to race with ReserveAid at Ironman Mt Tremblant in August 2014 and still dreams of qualifying for the World Champs at Kona.

J.T. Thompson

Hailing from Boulder, Colorado, J.T.’s triathlon career actually began while sitting on a couch, recovering from a broken neck while skiing in Switzerland. That’s when he saw a replay of the Ironman World Championship and said ” Broken neck or not, I’m getting off this couch and going to become an Ironman!”… Now a few years later, he is a 3-time Ironman, multiple 70.3, Olympic and sprint athlete. The Tri bug clearly bit and he enjoys the lifestyle, even if he’ll never be as fast as the professionals he trains with and sees in Boulder. He became acquainted with Reserve Aid thru his friendship with John and Jess Withrow and was very impressed with the organization upon attending the Reserve Aid fundraising dinner in NYC. After raising funds for Wounded Warriors last year at IM Louisville, he’s proud to be racing at IM Tremblant for Reserve Aid. When the race gets really hard, knowing that you’ve had lots of friends and family support your cause – and that you’ve got it easy compared to them – can be that “One” driving factor that keeps you pushing on. J.T. looks forward to racing with the team!

Mike Tokar

After back surgery and bilateral knee surgery when he was 39 , his wife, Gretchen and 2 children Carson and Gabby got behind him and supported his life changing road he was about to take. Mike dropped 50lbs and started running and hasn’t looked back since. He has completed 2 half Ironmans and several full marathons, many Olympic distance triathlons . “This will be by far the hardest thing I will ever do” Mike is currently working at Fort Meade in MD.” I get to see first hand the men and women in uniform who put their problems and life aside and protect our freedoms, These people are the ones who inspire me and will get me across the finish line”

John Withrow

As a Founding Member of Team ReserveAid, John has now finished 4 Ironmans with a PR time at IMFL in 2012 of 10:52:19. John has decided that he is tired of being a slow runner and made 2014 the year of the run! John is also done trying to just “keep moving” near the end of hard hot races, he now wants to keep moving “fast”. When John tried to recruit people to do IM Louisville with him in 2011, most said he was crazy. Now that Team ReserveAid has had well over 50 Ironman Finishers and counting, it doesn’t seem so crazy anymore. The 140.6 mile distance is still an immense challenge, though, and the 140.6 miles August in Canada might be held in 90 degrees weather with 90% humidity. John’s response to this is simple “It’s a lot hotter for our Troops in Afghanistan – we won’t be wearing boots and fatigues, and nobody will be shooting at us!”