April 14, 2024
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April 14, 2024
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Ironman in Canada: Part 1

I am officially registered for Ironman Mont Tremblant.

Known among triathletes at IMMT, this race is 80 minutes drive from Montreal, Canada.

(How long a drive is it from your home in New Jersey?)

Five hours, 27 minutes, but that is a conversation for another time. There are 15 Ironman (IM) events across North America and another 30 globally.

(So you could do one a month, if you wanted to.)


(How many of these have you done?)

I’ve completed six.

Ironman Cozumel in 2010, IMCoz.

Ironman Arizona in 2012, IMAZ

Ironman Louisville in 2014, IMLou.

Ironman Lake Placid in 2016, 2017 and 2019, IMLP.

(See this is why when you said that you are retired from this race, no one believes you.)

I said those things, because doing an IM is like having a baby.

It’s a painful process with a beautiful outcome that you swear you never want to go through again…

(And like having a baby, you forget the pain and do it all over again?)


Every year for the last 10 years I have denied that I was ever going to return to this monster size race, only to give myself a little room from the physically and emotionally exhausting aspect of the training. I have described the training as an “obsessive all encompassing experience.”

(Do you have OCD?)

Yes, but focus on what I’m telling you.

(What keeps drawing you back to this one thing?)

There is a sense of community when you reach this level of competition. On race weekend every single competitor will tell you how great you are going to be on race day. No one speaks about how great they are going to do, because they know there is always somebody greater than them.

(That and they don’t want to jinx themselves.)

That is also true. The unofficial motto of Ironman triathlon is “Anything is possible on race day.”

(I see how that can be taken as an inspiration and a warning.)


(You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.)

Thank you Inigo Montoya.

Anyone who has ever set a goal that is so humongous that at first glance it seems impossible to achieve, understands.

It is the idea that if you work hard, you may just get lucky enough to complete that objective.

And there is Mike Reilly.

Mike is known as “The Voice of Ironman.”

He is the finish line announcer.

He is the one who came up with the idea of exclaiming, “You are an Ironman” after saying the name of each person who makes it across the finish line before midnight.

(So you train for nine months, travel far away, pay lots of money all to get a medal and hear someone call out your name?)


(You don’t win any money?)


(You don’t get anything for crossing the finish line?)

Everyone who makes it across the finish line in under 17 hours gets a finisher’s medal.

(But everyone gets one! Where is the challenge in that?)

You have to swim 1,900 meters, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles, all in under 17 hours. You don’t call that a challenge?

(Everyone gets a medal!)

No, between 15-25% of the athletes will fail.

(So where is the payoff, the reward? Why would any sane person put their bodies through this type of torture?)

Neil Peart the lyricist and drummer for the Canadian rock band Rush penned the line, “The point of a journey is not to arrive.”

(You are racing in Canada, so you are quoting a Canadian, clever.)

The journey is the prize.

It’s that moment that you realize there is more greatness inside you than you ever imagined.

(Are you insane?)

Quite possibly.

(You just said 15-25% of the athletes will fail. Who embarks on a journey where the possible outcome is failure?)

Well, me and 2,999 other people standing around in neoprene wetsuits, waiting to start the race.

There is a transformative moment in the life of each person who completes an Ironman triathlon.

It may be that first time they learn to swim without drinking the entire pool.

(Thank you for that image, Kafka.)

Or the first time they get on a bike and ride 25 miles without stopping.

Or the first time they run for over an hour without stopping.

Or just maybe that moment when you cross that finish line and you hear Mike Reilly call out your name…and you see the finish line crowd go crazy.

(When was it for you?)

I will tell you next time.

David Roher is a USAT certified marathon and triathlon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and a veteran special education teacher. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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