This is me crossing the finish line of the 2013 Mont Tremblant Ironman…running at a 6:32 mile pace and bringing to completion the dream of a 7-year old boy who declared that he would someday complete “The World’s Hardest Race.”
Little did I expect I would remember, and then attempt to fulfill, that boy’s promise 32 years later – after spending 15 years doing almost no athletic activity. Nor did I expect the “world’s hardest race” would feel nearly effortless for me – that part was a surreal and unexpected, but welcome surprise.
The fact that I trained for the race alone, without a coach or a team, while working a 10-hour a day job on Wall Street, makes the whole scenario seem even more unlikely.
But the fact that I crammed most of my training into a 3-month period; a process of blood, sweat and tears that nearly broke me, but didn’t; well that’s what some people call a miracle.
Never mind the fact that I was the last kid picked for every team sport in school – and I finished most of my initial running competitions in last place. Well, that that was then…and this is now.
So how did I fare in my first Ironman triathlon with only 3-months of serious training? My final time was 11 hours and 41 minutes. And my first Marathon split ever? 3 hours and 48 minutes.
According to Wikipedia, that puts me 5 minutes faster than Gordon Haller’s finishing time when he won first place at the first Ironman competition in history.
That original Ironman race, held in Kona Hawaii back in 1978, was not officially organized or legally sanctioned in any way. It involved a rugged group of military athletes who simply wanted to settle an ongoing argument: “Who are the superior athletes? Swimmers, Bikers, or Runners?”
To settle the matter they decided to race against each other in what would become known as the world’s first “ultra-endurace” triathlon race, the winner of which was to be named “The Ironman.”
The course was conceived by combining three of the hardest races in Kona – The Waikiki Rough Water Swim, the Around Oahu-Bike race (originally a 2 day race), and the Honolulu Marathon.
It was a challenge so tremendous not one of the original competitors knew for sure they could actually finish the entire race. But sheer impossibility of a challenge is precisely what motivates a champion.
12 out of the 15 competitors went on that day to prove the impossible wrong, demonstrating to the world and themselves that the human body is capable of completing a 140.6 mile mulit-sport race, all in a single day. As a result of their actions, a new industry was spawned along with a new competition that would become known as world’s gold standard for ultra-endurance racing.
But here is the best part: The runner up that first year was a Navy Seal named John Dunbar. He was leading most of the race until he was forced to drink beer during the marathon…only because his make-shift support crew ran out of water! This is the story I became enthralled with as a 7 year old boy. For me the Ironman was a sport birthed out of pure bravado, fearless daring and a love to compete.
It’s was the most extreme physical challenge designed for the most extreme competitors. It was a sport for people obsessed with pushing their own limits, just to see what happens when they hit their max. True, it’s a sport for crazy people: the kind of crazy that’s fearless enough to confront the possibility of failure, with a willingness to crawl on bloody knees to get to the finish line if required.
It’s a story that I was destined to fall in love with. A story that, for whatever reason, I needed to make my own. So I did. And now my world will never be the same.
Read the full story of my adventure: THE THREE MONTH IRONMAN
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