James Lawrence holds the world record for most Ironman races completed in one year, at 30. It’s a bonkers achievement–and he just shattered it.
Dubbed the “Iron Cowboy” thanks to his penchant for running the 26.2-mile portion of the Ironman (which also includes a 2.4-mile swim and a 112-mile bike) in a cowboy hat, Lawrence recently completed 50 Ironman races . . . in 50 states . . . in 50 days.
Technically, the 38-year-old triathlon coach and personal trainer didn’t go down in history for the feat, because the 50 races were unofficial. Lawrence and his family plotted the courses.
“Logistically, we had to figure out how to physically get ready for this,” he says. “And then we had to figure out how to travel between every single state to find every course,” including spots in far-flung Hawaii and Alaska.
So why the heck undergo such a beastly challenge if glory wasn’t the endgame? “For me, it’s not about the world record,” says Lawrence, who is one of the finalists for the 2015 Search for the Ultimate Men’s Health Guy. “It’s about impacting people’s lives.”
Lawrence ran to raise awareness and funds for a non-profit that combats childhood obesity. At the end of every running portion of his Ironmans, he invited supporters from around the U.S. to join him and run the final 5K of the race with him.
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The marathon of mega-marathons kicked off June 6 at midnight in Kauai, Hawaii, and concluded July 25 in the native Utahan’s home state. Along the way, Lawrence raised $68,000.
“It was awesome,” says the man who biked 5,600 miles, ran 1,310 miles, and swam 120 miles in 50 days. “We had a lot of people that didn’t think we could do it, and we just charged through and did it. You have to stay positive to survive something like that. It came down to having a fantastic team that kept me on my toes and kept things light and made it fun.”