It all began in 2015, when I witnessed my brother do his first full Ironman.* He had trained for years, building up from triathlons to half-Ironmans. He had put in the work and had built a safe baseline to stay injury-free. He knew this was his chance: he was newly married and planning to have kids only after completing the race.
He picked a safe race location: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. A short drive from the Canadian border. Cool summer weather. That’s what they said.
The day came and his wife, best friend, myself, and my girlfriend and the time all flew/drove out to cheer him on. The weather reports showed some serious climate change weather. Temperatures 20 degrees above normal. Ironically, the morning was cool and clear, which would’ve worked for the run, but not for the swim. That day broke records, coming in at a high of 108 degrees F. My brother stayed strong through the middle of the bike, getting halfway through the 112 miles – which on a good day is a challenge – before succumbing to a first bout of heat exhaustion. He stopped at a Medical tent, and his wife and friend and I saw his tracker stop. We imagined the worst: he could’ve fainted and crashed, or worse.
In reality, he was resting and re-hydrating, doing all he could to resist quitting. I ran the first mile in flip-flops to cheer him on, but I could tell the joy had long since left. He walked much of the marathon out of a determination just to finish.
The dropout rate that day was over 30%. My brother finished, but his investments of time and energy and money were wasted on circumstances out of his control. Right after the race, feeling uncharacteristically bummed and hopeless, he told me: “This was stupid. Never do this. It’s just not fun.”
This one’s for you, my brother.
The plan is simple:
Race a solo, 210.9 mile Iron-and-a-Half-Man distance triathlon using a unicycle for the biking portion, and ending with the Austin Marathon.
Swim: 3.6 miles
Unicycle: 168 miles
Run: 39.3 miles (Ending with the Austin Marathon)
With the help of Jimmy Agnew, the founder of the nonprofit One Wheel, Many Children and the UniSaders unicycle clubs of Texas, we are planning a sponsored charity event at Pflugerville Lake on February 17th, 2018 starting at 2pm.
There will be games, signed books for sale, a raffle, and free food and drink.
My swim starts at noon, and I get on the unicycle right after the event starts at 2pm, which gives me 14+ hours to unicycle 168 miles, and 2+ hours to do the first half-marathon (13.1 of the 39.3 miles), bringing me to 7am the following morning, which is the start time for the Austin Marathon (the final 26.2 miles)
Want to get a sense for what it’s like for me to unicycle well over 100 miles at a go? In April of 2017, with Jimmy and the Unisaders present, I unicycled 130 miles consecutively, without breaking or dismounting, breaking a world record. The first 10.5 miles? Blindfolded, for another world record. The event was documented on my other blog, here.
Massive credit and inspiration goes to Rich Roll and his podcast, which you must go check out and give a listen to! Listening to him and to his guests has inspired me to continue to push my own boundaries. Buy his book, Finding Ultra, about overcoming addiction and becoming an ultra-endurance athlete. His guests’ stories both humble and excite me, but most of all, their stories spur me on to express the truest version of myself in everything that I do. I know now that my place is in leading by example through Action and Story and feats of human endurance, learning from those whose stories I hear and who came before me, and by branching into new versions of the story of the Human Spirit.
Get ready. We got this.
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*Ironman™ is a registered trademark of World Triathlon Corporation (WTC)
This event is not an Ironman™ race, nor is it affiliated with ™ or WTC.
It is a 210.9-mile ultra triathlon using a unicycle instead of some fancy cardboard-fiber bike.