James Lawrence, the Iron Cowboy has done it – a few minutes ago he ran around the track at Timpanogos High School in Orem, Utah, to finish his 100th full-distance effort in 100 straight days, the Conquer 100 challenge. Today’s effort concludes a challenge that literally doubles the record he set in 2015 when he completed 50 full-distance efforts in 50 days in 50 different states.
Originally from Calgary, Lawrence lives in Utah, where he completed all of the 100 full-distance events.
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Lawrence began his endurance challenges in 2010, when he completed 22 half-distance races in 33 weeks, and in 2012 he completed 30 full-distance races in one year.
He upped the ante again in 2015 with that 50/50/ 50 challenge, which he recapped both in a book Iron Cowboy- Redefine the Impossible, and a documentary called Iron Cowboy- the story of the 50-50-50.
The latest challenge has not come without its challenges. It wasn’t long into the challenge that the 45-year-old started to have issues with his shin. He resorted to wearing a “carbon plated brace” and ended up walking the marathon portion of many of his full-distance efforts. That wasn’t the case today, though, he averaged 11.36 minutes/ mile for the final marathon.
“If someone said I would do that for a quarter of a year, I would say that’s a long time,” he said shortly after today’s full-distance effort to the large crowd that was on hand. “I can’t believe we’re standing here today.”
“People ask me what I get out of this,” he continued. “For me it was community, friendships, camaraderie, laughter. I could not believe how the cycling community came out.”
Lawrence’s long-distance efforts have not been without controversy. Some criticized his 50 full-distance effort in 2015 because he completed some of the days on an elliptical trainer or indoor bike due to adverse weather conditions. We reported on Ironman’s request that he not talk about his “efforts as completing ‘IRONMANS’.”
A story in the Washington Post by Triathlon Magazine Canada contributor Nick Busca cited controversy over Operation Underground Railroad, the charity Lawrence is raising money for, “a nonprofit supported by former president Donald Trump that claims to fight human traficking,” according to the Post. “It is under investigation by Utah prosecutors after reports surfaced of it falsely claiming credit for the results of operations. (In a statement, the organization said it followed the law and would cooperate with any investigation.)”
None of which bothered the crowd that enjoyed Lawrence’s finish today. At the ceremony his wife, Sunny, managed to describe just how difficult Lawrence’s last 100 days have been, and what it means.
“I know that everyone out here is struggling,” Sunny told the crowd. “You don’t get to this place unless you hurt. If this was easy, no one would care. It was the days he struggled, the day he hurt, that your hearts were touched. If you look for hard, you get rewards. The things that will scare you are the things that will make you a champion. If we had ever known how hard this would be, we would never have done it. So I challenge all of you guys to buckle up, face that hard, and become champions.”