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Marines' female athlete of '06 trains for Ironman world title

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Jessica Utter of Toledo, Ohio, participates in the Ironman contest at Kona, Hawaii.

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Jessica Utter is taking a trip to the tropical and serene environment of Hawaii.

But the getaway figures not to offer the kind of relaxing and care-free opportunity typically associated with traveling to a vacation destination.

Captain Utter, a 1999 Notre Dame Academy graduate, is going on the trip to Hawaii's big island to compete for the third time in the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.

"I like competing in the Ironman competition," she said. "It's really a big undertaking."

Captain Utter, 26, is in the Marine Corps and will representi the U.S. military branch at the annual Ironman Challenge, scheduled for Saturday, with three other Marines.

She is the only female on the team expected to navigate the grueling race that requires completing a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride, and a 26.2-mile run, otherwise known as a full marathon.

Yet Captain Utter, who stands 5-foot-2 and weighs 115 pounds, figures to be more than up for the challenge.

Her physical prowess is well-recognized within the Marines. She was recently honored as the 2006 U.S. Marine Corps female athlete of the year.

It is an honor of highest praise among Marines.

"I definitely was flattered

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