James Lawrence, better known as Iron Cowboy, is a Canadian triathlete who likes to challenge himself and exceed boundaries. In 2010, he set a world record by completing 22 half-distance races in 33 weeks and, in 2012, he set another world record by completing 30 full-distance races in one year.
In 2015, he set himself a much bigger challenge – completing 50 full-distance races in 50 days in 50 different states. Following this challenge, Lawrence published a book called Iron Cowboy- Redefine the Impossible, along with a documentary called Iron Cowboy- the story of the 50-50-50. Unfortunately, this achievement has been tarnished by several controversies. First, on a few occasions due to inclement weather conditions, Lawrence completed the distances inside by riding a stationary bike and running on a treadmill. Second, on one occasion, due to an injury, he had to “run” the marathon on an elliptical. Third, Lawrence used intravenous saline water solutions to facilitate the hydration process after the full-distance efforts. This last point has been the most criticized by many since, according to WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) rules, it is prohibited. For these reasons, his achievement has been criticized by many and has not received the attention it deserves (in my opinion). Regardless of whether he can be considered to have officially completed 50 Ironmans in 50 days, it is undeniable that this is an extraordinary feat that pushes the boundaries of what is considered possible.
If 50 fulls in 50 days wasn’t enough, Lawrence set himself an even bigger challenge this year – 100 fulls in 100 days! This time he decided to complete all the events at his home in Utah. His challenge began on March 1 and he completed the first Ironman in 14:40 (1:25- 6:48- 5:40). The goal is to complete the full-distance effort at an intensity low enough to allow him to conserve as much energy as possible, but quickly enough to allow for a few hours of sleep before starting the next day’s event. After that first day he completed the full-distance efforts in 15 to 16 hours, then, on the fifth day, he had a swollen ankle, which slowed him down considerably. His swimming and cycling times remain very constant, but due to his ankle injury, he completed the marathon in six to seven hours.
Lawrence also faces a big challenge – temperature. He decided to start the challenge on March 1 in order to finish on June 8 before it gets too hot. However, in early March, he had to complete the long days in very cold temperatures and, on some days, even snow showers.
After more than four weeks, though, his ankle is much better and, apart from several blisters on his feet and a few missing toenails, he finishes each daily long-distance effort with disconcerting regularity. A few days ago, however, was one of the most difficult days for Lawrence – he completed the day in 18:38, which left him very little time to rest, sleep and recover in order to start again the next day at 5:30.
No matter if he succeeds in completing this challenge, it will still be an incredible achievement. You can follow the Iron Cowboy on through his website or on social media and make a donation to the non-profit organization he supports, Operation Underground Railroad, which is a foundation that assists people who are victims of human trafficking.