Photographs and video are the property of Ironman
Our theme of the month is “Hustle”. There’s something inherently hectic and frenzied, but focused and strategic, about someone in the act of hustling. Same goes for those training for and then undertaking the Ironman.
For the uninitiated, the Ironman is an epic battle of endurance. It consists of a 2.4 mile-long swim, a 112-mile long bicycle ride, and a 26.22-mile run (technically, a marathon), performed in that order. It is considered by experts and novices alike to be one of — if not the — most difficult athletic events. Most events have a time limit of 16 to 17 hours, depending on the terrain of the course. No matter where it’s held, it will test the limits of endurance.
The original Ironman was held in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, in 1978. Since then, it has spread around the world, and typically infects a certain type of personality, across gender, racial, economic, and every other line that the Census Bureau might use to draw one in with.
Annually now, there are 13 Ironman (140.6) and 26 Ironman 70.3 races in the U.S.
Take the two Ironman participants I personally know: the first is my cousin Emily. She is a stay-at-home mother of three children, living in Florida. On family trips, she’s always the one driving the 20-person “van” filled with sugar-charged screaming children between the ages of 4-18 and their caffeine-hyped backseat-driving also-screaming parents through the backstreets of Venice, Italy, or Paris, France; she manages to parallel park in a back alley, and emerge, smiling, and ready to lead us all on a three-hour tour of whatever city we’re in, guidebook in hand. There will be one stop for a locally made artisanal, organic treat and one pit stop permitted. You know the type.
Then there’s my cousin-in-law Sean, the president of his company, father of three, who manages to coach baseball for one, then drive another kid to horseback riding, and the next to her debate squad. He travels all over the world for work and fun, dines in the best restaurants, except when he feels like some good BBQ, loves country music and is totally down to earth. You know the type.
Emily and Sean (they’re not married, though he is best friends with her husband), have done one Ironman together, and are in the process of training for another. This time in Tokyo.
On September 8th, another Ironman (the 70.3 a.k.a. half-Ironman involving a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and 13.1-mile run), a Triathlon qualifying event for the 2020 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in New Zealand, is being held in Lake Placid (the longest running Ironman event in the continental U.S.), which has a long history of putting the human body and psyche through a series of rigorous tests. It has also been associated with literal iron since its founding (in the early 1800s, it was settled to exploit its rich stores of iron ore. And while Lake Placid may look quaint, it’s tough as nails: it has hosted two Olympic Winter Games in 1932 and 1980, the 1972 Winter Universiade, the 2000 Goodwill Games and dozens of regional, national and international skating championships.) This is the third Ironman being held there. The next full Ironman in Lake Placid will be July 26, 2020.
We spoke with the organizers to get a sense of what to expect. It will be, Ben Yarrington, Ironman’s communication coordinator, says, a mixture of more than 2,000 professional and amateur athletes. Here are some of their stories:
SEPTUAGENARIAN HUSTLE: Dan McCarel, Age 76, from Ardmore, PA
At 76 years young, Dan will be the oldest competitor at IRONMAN 70.3 Lake Placid.
TENDERFOOT HUSTLE: Adam Livingston, Age 18
Adam will be the youngest competitor to take on IRONMAN 70.3 Lake Placid.
HEALING HUSTLE: David King, Age 46, from Boston, MA
In 2013, David King ran a 3:12 Boston Marathon. He was on his way home when he learned about the marathon bombings. As a trauma surgeon, he knew he needed to go to the hospital. King’s team treated 43 victims and performed 30 hours of life-saving surgeries. King stated that this was not his toughest day at work. He had previously been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq as an Army lieutenant and combat surgeon. There was a bombing in Afghanistan that led to him working the hardest he ever had in his life.
VETERAN HUSTLE: Benjamin Eggleston, Age 41, from Mechanicville, NY
Benjamin is a 4th generation Army Veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004-2006 following active duty in NYC for 9/11. He spent a good amount of time training as a maintenance personnel working on numerous vehicles/tanks in support of missions related to the HHC 42nd ID Mechanized Infantry Unit.
LOVING HUSTLE: Alejandro Perez Sanchez, Age 36, from Rochester, NY
Before Alejandro’s wife passed away, they had promised each other that they would both complete an endurance challenge that they had never done before. Ultimately, they had to postpone their training because his wife got pregnant with their daughter and endured a high-risk pregnancy. Her kidneys started to fail during her pregnancy, and she had to have an emergency C-section. The day before they were supposed to leave the hospital after recovering in the NICU, his wife passed away. This race will be Alejandro’s first step toward fulfilling the promise that he made to his late wife.
FRESH AIR HUSTLE: Marc MacNaughton, age 42, from Florham Park, NY
Marc is a former United States Marine who had half of one lung removed after 9/11. He is a former track coach and attended law school. He started training for triathlons in December 2018 and has already ran his first Olympic Distance triathlon. Marc is coached by top 10 Nationally Ranked Athlete & Coach, Bobby Hammond.
SURVIVOR HUSTLE: Jacob Long, Age 27, from Newtown, MA
Jacob has had his share of obstacles, including childhood cancer and 3 brain surgeries. However, he does not seek sympathy or praise for what he has overcome. He seeks to motivate others and show everyone the power of the human body and mind. Jacob strives to inspire others by helping them find their strength to live their strongest and healthiest lives possible.
SURVIVOR HUSTLE: Charlotte Winkler, Age 21, from Riverside, CT
For several years, Charlotte was unable to exercise due to her battle with anorexia. When she started to recover and start running again, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She attempted to keep running during her treatment, but chemotherapy side effects prevented her from doing so. Since recovery, Charlotte has built her fitness up and is doing better than her pre-cancer self. She has grown to love swimming and cycling just as much as she loves running and decided to celebrate her recovery with this 70.3. She is excited to prove to herself that she is capable and to appreciate her body’s strength.
I may not be ready to sign up for an Ironman, but knowing that they did — despite, or perhaps of everything else that could have prevented them — gives me a little extra spring in my step.
Bring on the missed morning school-buses, the forgotten lunchboxes, the dog-eaten homework, the endless station-wagon post-school schlepps around town. Is that all ya got, September? I’ve got this, you’ve got this, now put on your shoes and grab your bag, because we need to hustle!