In the world of triathlon, most people think that the pinnacle distance of the sport is the iron distance race: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run.
There’s no denying that the iron distance can be a beast. I know from personal experience. Having finished an Ironman, though, gives me confidence that I could likely do another one day (and with this year being the fifth anniversary of me crossing that bucket list item off, I’d love to do an anniversary version again). Frankly, however, for many athletes, the concept of doing an iron-distance race is daunting. Heck, for some people, even toeing the line for any triathlon is daunting.
Ultraman races are the extreme distance for extreme triathletes.
Wrap your head around this: 6.2 mile (10 km) open water swim, followed by 261.4 miles (420.6 km) of cycling and then 52.4 miles (84.3 km) of running.
Yeah. You read that right. 320 total miles (515 km) of multi-sport madness. Ultraman Florida was held this past weekend; 34 athletes participated.
Frankly, it’s difficult for me to comprehend even one component of that event. The first person out of the water this weekend took 2 hours 22 minutes. The last competitor pulled himself out of the lake in 5 hours 9 minutes. What the hell does one think about while they swim for 4 hours or more? For comparison sake the guy who was first out of the water would have averaged about 1:15 per 100 in a SCY pool! I can’t even do that at my peak conditioning for any length of time – even one 100! Cycling 261 miles? Seriously? I have a hard enough time riding 261 miles IN A CAR – forget pedaling that far. Then, after all that, go and run not one, but a DOUBLE marathon. All in the same weekend. Yeah. Right.
It’s pretty much unequivocal that the nut-jobs who tackled this distance are freaks. I mean, come-on. How many people would voluntarily submit themselves to this soul-crushing, toe-blistering, delirium-inducing event?
The answer, in short, is a few hardy, superbly conditioned athletes. Ultraman isn’t about a race, so much, but about the ultimate cathartic event. The community that is built at these events is apparently second to none. The guys and girls who even attempt this kind of race are pure rockstars. The creme de la creme. The epitome of uber-athletes.
Carbon turns iron into steel. Pure grit and a love of endurance sports turns an Ironman into an Ultraman.
My sincere congratulations to all who participated in Ultraman Florida this past weekend. A special shout-out goes to Susan Haag, my Team Rev3 Tri teammate. She was one of just six women who raced. She is pure bad-ass. And hilarious. She literally danced across the finish line!