Comprising approximately 226 kilometers of swimming, biking and running, an Ironman triathlon is a very long race, even longer than the trip from Calgary to Field, BC.
In fact, it’s a painful enough experience that athletes typically tackle only one triathlon per year.
But not former Calgarian James Lawrence. Known as the “Iron Cowboy”, he recently completed 101 Ironman triathlons in 101 days to raise $ 250,000 for charity.
From March 1 to June 8, Lawrence rode the same Ironman circuit every day in Lindon, Utah, with the support of his wife, Sunny Jo, and their five children.
“I’ve been traveling for over a decade with our family, and we ended up breaking a few records and one thing led to another,” Lawrence told the Open your eyes to Calgary Monday.
“And then we always have a charitable component in it, and we just like to see what the mind and body are capable of.”
Chaos and logistics
Lawrence is no stranger to the conceptualization, then to the conquest, of sporting exploits.
Best known for competing in 50 iron triathlons in 50 days across all 50 U.S. states, Lawrence broke the world record in 2015 for the number of consecutive long distance triathlons completed.
In addition to the athleticism required, this was made difficult by elements of chaos and logistics, he said.
And when his main job as a speaker was disrupted by the pandemic in 2020, Lawrence reflected on what could be accomplished if he were to stay in one place.
“Part of the plan [completing 101 triathlons] was, “Okay, if we take away the chaos and the logistics, what is humanly possible physically?” “,” Lawrence said.
According to Lawrence, there is no training program to prepare for 101 Ironman triathlons in 101 days because no one has done it before.
Instead, the goal becomes for your body to adapt to doing it every day.
And so, the 101-day tour started each morning with around 90 minutes of laps at the Lindon Aquatic Center, followed by a bike loop around town that takes five to six hours.
“Hundreds of riders would show up. They would come ride with us,” said Lawrence.
“And then there’s a nice paved trail behind my house, and we would do the marathon on that trail every day.”
Advantages and disadvantages
Doing the same thing, in the same places, over and over again, had both its pros and cons.
“There are two sides to this coin,” Lawrence said.
“One, the monotony of it, but then two, the confidence – knowing you’ve already done the trail, the confidence of the familiarity of it.”
The advantages, he said, outweighed the disadvantages. But there were still drawbacks.
The wear and tear on his body was extremely difficult – an ankle injury resulted in a shin injury which resulted in a hip injury.
“The pain got to a point some of the days that I would pass out and then I would come back and go on,” Lawrence said.
“We actually thought I was going to break my leg at some point, just because we had covered so many miles.”
Now that it’s all over, Lawrence is recovering with plenty of sleep – nine to 10 hours a day, with naps in between.
Eating is also important. Her hips are still causing her problems.
However, it was ultimately a lesson in mind about the matter and the use of our support systems, Lawrence said.
“The mind is super, super powerful. You only gain mental strength by doing something,” he said.
“The community is amazing. And we still haven’t harnessed the possibilities that the mind and body are capable of. And as humans, I believe we limit ourselves, and I hope we have learned a lot from it. this trip.”
With files from Calgary eyepiece.