news-category: Campus News

GWU Accounting Instructor Competes in his First Half Ironman

Professor Ghassan Dib Finishes Panama City Swim-Bike-Run in Under 7 hours

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Exhausted, Ghassan Antonios Dib, Gardner-Webb University accounting instructor, was in Panama City just a few miles away from completing his first half Ironman, a total distance of 70.3 miles. His muscles started to cramp when he was 8 miles into the last segment, a 13.1-mile run. “Those last 5 miles were brutal with pain,” Dib shared. “At the finish line, I was the happiest person in the world.”

Ghassan Dib and his friend pose after finishing the half Ironman.
Ghassan Dib, left, and his friend pose after finishing
the half Ironman, a total distance of 70.3 miles.

In 6 hours and 45 minutes, Dib had finished 1.2 miles of an ocean swim, 56 miles of cycling, and 13.1 miles of running. He ranked 982 out of over 1,700 participants. A friend talked him into participating in the event. “I thought it would give me some motivation to exercise,” Dib observed, then added jokingly, “I actually tried to quit, but since they didn’t give a refund, I got stuck doing it.”

Dib had less than four months to prepare for the event. “I am a strong cyclist, so cycling was not a problem for me, but I had to run and swim a lot,” he related. “Also, since it was an open water swim, I had a problem finding lakes and rivers to swim in during the middle of the winter. I practiced in an indoor pool as much as I could.”

His motivation to finish came from two sources. “My daughter was in the crowd watching and supporting me,” Dib asserted. “I needed to finish so I wouldn’t disappoint her, and thank God I did. Also, I saw a lady maybe in her 80s running and trying to finish. This was an amazing observation to me that anything is possible.”

He hopes to compete in a full Ironman, which is a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride, and a marathon (26.2-mile run), at the end of 2022 or sometime in 2023. “It will take a lot a practice to run a marathon after 112 miles on the bike,” Dib commented.

In the meantime, he is focused on cycling. “I signed up for the Blue Ridge Brutal (Blue Ridge Parkway) on Aug. 21th (102 miles and 10,000 feet of elevation), Assault of the Carolinas (Brevard, N.C.) on Sept 18th (65 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation) and Gran Fondo Hincapie (Greenville, S.C.) on Oct. 23 (85 miles and 8,500 feet of elevation),” he offered.

Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university. Gardner-Webb emphasizes a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics to prepare students to become effective leaders within the global community. Ignite your future at

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