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Ultraman World Championships

November 29, 2012

Why on earth would someone want to do something like the Ultraman World Championships? On the surface, it seems to be a completely crazy race; a three-day triathlon in the heat of of the island of Hawaii. There are complex answers, and there are simple answers. The simple one is just that it’s a challenge, something worthy to shoot for and distract oneself from (for at least a little while) the tedium and “saneness” of everyday life. The complex one is the one that I hope shows through in the story of my race on Thanksgiving Weekend 2012 (November 23-25).

Day One consists of a 6.2 mile (10km) open ocean swim from the Kailua-Kona Pier south along the coast to Keahou Bay; followed by a 90 mile bike ride from the swim exit to the town of Volcano. Day Two consists on a 171.4 mile ride from Volcano down to the southeast corner of the island for a loop and then up through Hilo and Waimea and over the Kohalas to finish in the town of Hawi. Day Three consists of a run from Hawi to the old Kona Airport for a total of 52.4 miles (84.3) -a double marathon on the hot and “dry” side of the island.

Background and Lead-up

In 2011, I completed Ultraman Canada; which at the time was the second hardest race that I had every completed (after the Hoodoo 500 bicycle race). My race there was fraught with problems: stomach issues during the swim, and then heat and wind for the rest of the race. But the exercise in suffering had a point – I made it through and proved to myself that I had what it took to be an Ultraman.

Going back even further to when I was a kid, I always dreamed of one day competing in three events: the Ironman, the Western States 100 Mile Trail Run and the Race Across America. I ticked off my first Ironman in 2009 in New Zealand, and finished another one in 2010 in Canada. I also have completed two 500 mile bike races solo (Hoodoo 500 and The Furnace Creek 508), a 50-Mile Run (American River 50 Miler), and 20+ rides longer than 200 miles. I’ve been interested in endurance and ultra-endurance sports for as long as I can remember. Some of my early childhood memories revolve around traveling with my family when my dad would compete in marathons around the state of California. So you might blame my dad that I ended up on a starting line by the Kailua-Kona Pier at 6:30AM on a Friday. Or you might, even more directly blame Steve King.

Steve King was the announcer at Ironman Canada (he will now be doing the announcing at Challenge Penticton since WTC moved the Ironman Canada race to Whistler, BC) when I did the race. At the post-race banquet, he mentioned something while talking about something called Ultraman. As I recall, he mentioned that someone who was there racing had done Ultraman a month prior. My interest was piqued and the hook was set – I was on the path to becoming an Ultraman.

When it came time to decide whether to apply for the World Championships in 2012, my wife Joan encouraged me to, saying something to the effect of “You’ve qualified for a World Championship race, you should go do it!”. I sent in my application, and awaited word as to whether I’d been accepted. It felt a bit like leaping off into the deep end of the pool did when I was seven. The field is limited to 35 racers – always has been, and hopefully always will be. The intent of the organizers is to keep the field small in order to keep the family spirit (the Ohana) alive and well. Ultraman athletes tend to know a good chunk of the field, at least after they have raced one. Some of the most genuinely nice and wonderful people compete at this distance. There are a few athletes there who look and race the part of hardened and seasoned athletes, but without fault, everyone there is there for the love of the sport and for each other. You race with a crew, and a good crew can make or break your race – it can lead to the most miserable experience of your life or to the most wonderful and enlightening experience of your life. Of course, the race can bring these both to you, and often does – even a few minutes apart sometimes.

Finding crew for the race really was not even close to challenging. The moment any of my ultra-geek friends heard what I was going to race, many of them offered to come crew for me. The selection was based on a very important factor – who could we share a single room with two beds with? It had to be a couple. The first people asked were already committed to racing Ironman Arizona the previous weekend, so they were out (that means you, Erin and Jimmy!). When I asked our good friends Diana and Jeff next, their immediate response was “YES!” – not, “Let me ask the boss about it.” or, “Let me check my schedule.”. They were all over a “free” vacation in Hawaii. Of course, that meant that they would have to be my pacers during the double marathon since Joan doesn’t run any more. The only thing left was to figure out the paddler for the swim. We quickly decided to let the race organizers pick someone from the rowing club in Kona to paddle for me.

Training for the race was going really well right up through mid-October. My first race of the year was the Big Kahuna Half Ironman in September, which I finished with a respectable 5:27 clocking. My second race was the Furnace Creek 508, which Joan and I did as a 2-person mixed team (we came in 2nd mixed team and 8th overall 2X team of 36 which started). I also completed a longtime goal by swimming the Golden Gate, without a wetsuit. Though painfully slow, it was a good exercise in suffering that would help me tremendously during the swim portion at Ultraman.

On the last weekend of October, we visited Joan’s family in Canada and went to the Banff Mountain Film Festival (another longtime dream). After sitting in the Hot Spring at Banff for a while, I got out and went in to shower and change. I sat down to put my shoes on and when I stood up, something in my low back/hip seized on me. My first thought was, “There goes my chances of finishing Ultraman!”. After hobbling around for the rest of our trip and getting home, I did what I could. I laid off the running for a while and visited my chiropractor every week until we left for Kona. Dr Brad Schmidt of Excel Sports Therapy does an outstanding job at ART and Graston Technique. I highly recommend him!

The last week before leaving was of course a flurry of activity: picking up a bike case from the triathlon club, borrowing triathlon tops from a friend and making sure I packed what I needed to bring. Explaining to the “normal” people at work why I was going to Hawaii was perhaps the source of greatest levity during the week. “You’re doing what?” more than one person asked me. Yes, I’m crazy; but I’m also determined, and I know that my body is fully capable of completing the race. And finally the day to leave comes!

To Hawaii!

The morning of November 21 found Joan and me loading up the van for the trip to the San Jose Airport. With two bike cases and two checked duffel bags, we provided some entertainment for other travelers. We were off to Hawaii! Jeff had arrived the previous evening, coming in from Guam, where he’d been working for six weeks. He had been looking forward to the cooler and dryer weather of Hawaii. Diana (Jeff’s girlfriend) was flying in from Seattle, where she’s been working for most of the year – she was looking forward to the warmer and dryer weather of Hawaii.

When we arrived at the Kona Airport, we picked up our rental van and headed off to pickup Jeff at a Denny’s near town, and then back to the airport to pickup Diana. The crew was assembled in paradise. We went off to our rental condo on Ali’i Drive and began to settle in. Joan and I assembled our bikes, and she went off for a moderately long ride. I went for a short spin to make sure that I’d reassembled the bike properly. The first cup of coffee from Island Lava Java made me remember partly why I’d loved the island so much on our prior visit (Joan and I honeymooned in Kona in March 2010). Such good coffee! Jeff and Diana and I also went for a short swim by the Pier to enjoy the water and loosen up muscles stiff from our flights. The first dinner was, of course, at the Kona Brewing Company! Nothing welcomes you to Kona like a Lavaman Red Ale…

In the morning, Joan headed off the ride to the Punalu’u Bakery near the southern end of the island. They bill themselves as the “Southernmost Bakery In the US”. And they’re darn good. While she was doing that, the rest of us went off to registration and enjoyed our first full day in paradise.

Walking into registration at an Ultra race always feels like a family reunion. Hugs and people calling out greetings and basking in each other’s company was all around. The spirit of Ohana enveloped me from the moment I walked through that door. These may be amazing athletes, but they are also my family. It was good to be there. Jane Bockus (race director) and Sheryl Cobb (assistant race director) greeted me as part of the family, as did everyone else there. Friends from Ultraman Canada 2011 were there: it was good to see Ingrid Hillhouse, Roberto Parseghian, and Joni Moore. Tracey McQuair was there as well; and when you’ve spent 12 days cramped into a van following a Race Across America at an under 10mph pace, you either become friends or mortal enemies. Fortunately, our shared love of “corny” jokes made us fast friends. After checkin, we went for a swim in Keahou Bay and then went off the farmer’s market for produce and souvenirs. For dinner that night, Diana cooked up an awesome meal of local fruits and veggies and tuna and bread.

On Thanksgiving Morning, we went to the pre-race briefing and breakfast. More familiar faces, more reunions of the Ultraman Ohana. More stories and tall-tales and instructions. The group photo by Rick Kent is always a good time, with him rearranging us up on stage for about 10 minutes before taking pictures. But it’s part of the experience and part of the fun. After the meeting, we headed off for last-minute shopping and preparations. The fun was to start at 6:30 the following morning!

Day One

When the alarm went off, I’d slept for an hour – perhaps 1.5 hours. My mind was racing the entire night, and I headed into what was to be a very hard day on very little sleep. It’s a good thing that with all the ultra cycling I have grown accustomed to sleep deprivation and making the best of whatever life throws at me. After breakfast, I grabbed my coffee and we headed off to the Pier for the start. I put on my wetsuit and applied Bodyglide generously where needed. Fifteen minutes before the race, my paddler (Jen) and I went over strategy and how the swim was to go. I was to stop every half hour for food, water and/or Gatorade. With the sound of a conch, the swimmers began to make their way into the water. I got/gave big hugs from/to Ingrid, Tracey and Juan. We were ready to rock and roll for sure! A nervous excitement filled the legendary beach (also home to Ironman World Championships swim). At ten seconds out, the countdown began: 10 -What are we doing here?, 9 -What have I gotten myself into, 8 -I hope this day goes well, 7-What have I gotten myself into?, 6- I hope I don’t see any man-o-wars, 5-What am I doing?, 4-Why am I standing among these hardcore athletes on this beach?, 3-Am I worthy?, 2-Of course I am, 1-Let’s get this thing done. Go-Pure madness envelopes me. My every thought turns towards swimming one stroke at a time. And then the Muse song “Madness” starts looping through my mind.

After finding Jen, we set our course towards the distant landmark that signifies the final turn into Keahou Bay. My right shoulder is stiff, but what can I do, I carry on and keep as calm as I can. The water is so clear in Kona that you can see the Yellow Tang and humuhumunukunukuapuaʻa and other colorful exotic fish from 40-50 feet above. The swim became a blur of swallowing salt water when the choppy waves would hit my face, getting rolled over nearly onto my black, little walnut-sized jellyfish (yes, I got stung a couple of times -on my shoulder and my foot), Jen telling me to alter my course a bit, watching the current pushing me in the wrong direction. After far too long, I could see the turn buoy in the distance, but the current was against me until I made the turn. When I finally made the turn, I could see another swimmer a bit ahead of me. I made a beeline for the finish, passing him in the process. After showering and changing, I was onto the bike course. The swim took over 5:15, more than an hour behind my time from Canada.

The beginning of the Bike One course is rather tough. You immediately start climbing, and continue climbing for about three miles up into the coffee-growing district of Kona. Since I’d been this way before, the scenery was familiar, but I enjoyed seeing the area. All the flowering trees, mac nut trees and coffee trees make for a pleasant aroma. It was gorgeous out there! Through nice rolling hills, orchards and lava fields I rode out around the southernmost part of the course, and back down to the coast where some of the finest black sand beaches are located. No stopping today though!

The Day One course finishes with a long gradual climb up to 4000 feet at the town of Volcano. At first it was hot, and my crew was concerned about my pace. The higher we got, the more gradual and cooler it got, my pace got faster and faster as I went and by the top I blew past another racer and to the finish at 11:49, just eleven minutes before the cutoff. But I’d made it through an incredibly tough day. In fact, Steve King told me that the swim was the roughest that he’s seen it in the six years he’s been coming to Hawaii for the race. The bike course is tough, but fun. Jeff, Diana and Joan had to goad me to go faster, and it worked. I was not about to DNF on Day One (or two or three for that matter!). The hardest part was rehydrating after the swim. It took a lot of water and gatorade before I felt close to normal. My tongue would remain swollen and irritated for a few days from the salt water.

After the race, we headed into the national park for dinner and massage. The massage was heavenly after the struggles of the day. Then we headed off to our hotel for the night. In the morning, it was to be another early start!

On To Day Two!

At 6:20, the conch blew and the racers awaited instructions. For some, this was to be the hardest day, for me it was to be the easiest, and most fun day on a bike in my entire life. But I’m getting a bit ahead of the story. When we reached one in the countdown, the pedals started turning. The course starts off with a 26 mile descent on nice straight roads. It was cool and humid, but I took my vest off after about ten miles. We were headed for a little corner of paradise south of Hilo called Red Road. The terrain played into my hand quite nicely, as I thrive on short rollers, and the scenery kept my mind off the effort I was putting into pushing my pedals.

By the time I got to Hilo, I knew I was having a good day. When I got to the Ironman Distance mark at 5:46, I knew I was having an outstanding day. When Tracey caught me, I sped up and used her as carrot to goad myself into a faster time. It worked very well. She stayed in my sights for about 50 miles until she pulled away on the climb over the Kohalas. Tracey’s crew was wonderful too, since I was only 10-20 yards behind her, they would squirt water on me too. It was nice to share the experience. Thanks for the “legspiration”, Tracey!

Joni passed me and Tracey as well. After going through Waimea, the course made its way into the Kohalas. The climb was stunning, as were the views of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Such a beautiful place to ride! In the back of my mind, I could hear Juan telling me about the crosswind on the descent, playing tricks on you and causing bad wobbles. It turned out to be one of the best weather years on the descent and I flew down it as well. I ended up with a time on the day of just under 9:08, a personal best for the distance. After a shower, I went in for an epic massage. My crew called it the “Two Hour Massage”, but I think it was only an hour (it was supposed to be 30 minutes). Maggie worked her magic, and I felt ready to go for a run afterward. Good thing, because that’s what I had to do in the morning! Ingrid voiced her displeasure over not being able to catch me on the bike, but she was assured that she would have that chance the next day!

After dinner at a Thai place in Waimea, we headed to our hotel and I was out by 8:30.

Day Three!

When the alarm sounded, I was up like a bolt; fully aware of what I had to do that day. This was to be my third 50+ mile run, and they just don’t get easier (just faster, apparently). I’m not built like a distance runner, but my determination and willpower makes up for that.

We drove up to the start line just inside the Hawi town limit. Next thing, the conch is blowing, and we are giving thanks as an Ohana for the blessing of life and the opportunity to run down the coast to Kona. This was to be the most rewarding and the most painful day of the journey; and perhaps the toughest single day of my life.

To overcome adversity takes not only willpower and desire, it takes love. Love of suffering, I believe, is what separates the finishers from the DNFs. And I don’t mean that in a sadistic sense. You really do have to embrace the suffering. Take it in and learn from it, and come out of the grinder on the other end as a better person fully aware of your place in the world. Don’t back down from the challenge unless continuing on becomes a life-threatening proposition.

When the countdown began, I cleared my mind of all doubts; and when it ended I started to jog. The early miles always become an exercise in holding yourself back from going too hard. When I picked up my pacer (Jeff) about 1.5 miles in, we settled into a pace around a nine minute mile. That may not seem like much, but that pace over the full distance would be good for a 7:51 time and a high place in the standings. I knew I couldn’t maintain it for the whole race, especially in the weather I knew was coming. But I had to get some miles in before the suffering began in earnest!

As the sun came up, the heat went up with it. It quickly became obvious that the day was going to be a sufferfest for everyone out there. I saw other runners walking early on. Tracey was suffering, and gave her words of encouragement as she walked along the highway suffering in the heat. I can’t imagine what’s like to go from sub-freezing weather to Hawaii and run a double marathon!

As we settled into a rhythm, I actually began to enjoy the run. Jeff and Diana were taking two mile turns pacing me, and they did an outstanding job of keeping me motivated and humored and goading me on when I began to suffer in the heat. I passed Amy Palmeiro-Winters early on as she changed the sock on her prosthetic leg. She was attempting to become the first amputee to finish Ultraman, but had DNF’d due to missing a turn on Day Two and going 20km down the road before realizing the mistake. She has finished other things like Badwater and Western States, so she’s clearly no slouch when it comes to running. It really was THAT bad out there. As she put it, the day took her to a place she’d never been before within her head. I ran for bits with the Scotsman Alan Macpherson and got to know him a little along with enjoying the mutual suffering.

Getting to know the other athletes around you is definitely part of the spirit of the race. Other crews were offering me spray downs or cold water-soaked sponges (so awesome!), my crew was entertaining me with their roadside antics including dancing and pushups. When I got “gridded” (passed by Ingrid – her crew kept a tally on the window of their van (I was number 9)), I was in a place of suffering that I’ve never really been. It was hot, really hot for about six miles or so. I later found that the temperatures topped out at at least 88 degrees. I later told Ingrid that the temperature went up about ten degrees when she was about to pass me. You have to watch out for those women from Texas! Fortunately, once she got far enough ahead of me, the temperatures cooled down a bit and the breeze picked up. Tracey also passed me somewhere in there – it was good to see her back to her normal cheerful self powering on down the course.

My marathon split was 4:35, good enough for a new personal best (my old best was 4:40 for the first 26.2 miles of the American River 50). Don’t laugh, I’ve never done one on it’s own! This was 26 minutes faster than my halfway split at Ultraman Canada.

One of the things that kept me going (actually it helped to keep my mind off the pain) was to think about what I wanted to eat after the race. I think all athletes do this during their races, but I was consumed by the thought of getting a pizza and beer from the Kona Brewing Company. A cold beer seemed like a little piece of heaven, and pizza is always an excellent recovery food.

The long road continued on. I ran down the Queen Kaahumanu Highway, hallowed ground amongst triathletes – it forms a large chunk of the bike course at the Ironman World Championships. Since I’ve been following endurance sports for most of my life, this was a rather cool experience for me – running down the Queen K in the World Championships of a triathlon. This is the stuff that legends are made of.

I got the incredible pleasure to run for a good stretch with Suzy Degazon (this was her 15th “and last” Ultraman race – she’s the queen of the distance). She’s an absolute riot to be around, and it was fun to play “Letters” with her and her step-daughters who were her pacers (say a letter and the other person says a country (or whatever chosen category) which starts with that letter. I got them out of jams on ‘Q’ (Qatar) and ‘R’ (Rwanda). Fun times.

Fun times, that is, until I crossed the entrance to the airport 7.1 miles out from the finish. I stepped down and felt a distinct tearing on the second toe on my right foot. I’d ripped a blister open. I had to hobble for a bit until the van caught back up with us. My crew worked some surgical miracles with first aid tape and moleskin. After ten minutes of sitting, I got back to my feet and hobbled onward. I eventually was able to start jogging again, and began making fairly decent time again.

I caught back up with Suzy and passed her while she was stretching on the side of the road. When I saw the 99 mile marker, I knew the end was close. From the final turn just past it, the finish is .9 miles away. Suzy had, earlier in the day told me and Jeff that she starts singing 99 Red Balloons. Since I didn’t know the lyrics to the song (though I do admit that we often sang the German version (99 Luftballoons) during German class in high school – I don’t remember very many of the words) I skipped singing it. I could see another runner a couple of hundred yards ahead of me, but he was too far up to catch. This turned out to be Nino Cokan, who was 4th overall last year, and 11th this year. He had a rough time on the run this year. It was good to be fast enough on the run to be in the middle of the field and to see some of the fast ultra crazies out there on the road!

Coming down the finish chute I was overwhelmed. I felt gratitude for the people that helped to get me there: my crew of Joan, Jeff and Diana; all of the other crews I encountered along the way (I’m right now picturing Steve Brown cheering despite having lost his voice – he was on “Tracey’s Crew”, but he (and everyone else out there) genuinely wanted everyone else to surpass their goals and expectations. I felt an overwhelming family love for all of the competitors out there, from the people who DNF’d to the people who finished to the people who won. We were all in this together, and we all left a little piece of our spirit on the highways and in the ocean of the island of Hawai’i.

After getting lei’d by Jane and getting a hug from Sheryl (and from Joan and my crew), I made a beeline for the ocean and stumbled into the water with some help from Jeff. I sat down in the shallow water in the rocks and let the waves crash over me. The cool water felt good after running all those miles in the heat. After showering I got my massage from Lisa, who worked her magic on my sore muscles. I also had the fun of comparing toenail damage with Ingrid. Nothing screams Ultrarunner like the sight of mangle toes and toenails. We’re absolutely crazy to do these things (but hey, I love crazy people!), and we certainly don’t do them to get sexy feet!

After hanging around and chatting with some of the other athletes and crews, we headed off to get the pizza, but not after watching the final finisher for the run stage (Trung Lively). A lot of people were there waiting to see him home from his journey. This simple act, to me, speaks volumes about the camaraderie and respect for each other that the community holds. We’re all in this together!

We headed off to grab a bite and then back to the condo. I’d finished Ultraman in a respectable time (31:10:48 -22nd overall of 27 finishers and 35 starters), on a tough course and in a fairly tough year at least for the swim stage. My feet were (and still are as I write this two days later) a mess, but the pain is worth it. The harder the achievement, the more worth your while it is.

The Day After

The morning after the race, I was up early and sore all over. I lounged around the condo for quite some time before finally growing bored and deciding to wander down to the beach. Given that the Pier was a little over two miles away, it was to be a long hobble! Jeff and Diana had taken the van to visit her brother on the other side of the island, and Joan had headed off to ride to Mauna Kea Visitor Center and back, so I was on my own. It took a while, but I got there. I stopped at Lava Java and ran into some of the Ultraman Ohana sitting around sharing stories. I swam for a bit, soaking in the chance to be still and relax. I wandered around a few of the shops and ended up getting coffee and an ice cream from the Kope Lani Coffee Shop. I sat there for a couple of hours reading until Jeff and Diana came to pick me up so we could head off to the post-race banquet and awards ceremony. I missed out on seeing Kevin and Kat renew their wedding vows at the chapel by the hotel, but I had seen them earlier by the Pier. It was kind of amazing how many of the Ultraman athletes were out and about the day after the race. I guess you can’t keep crazy down for long.

The awards banquet is always a good time: new friendships bloom and old friendships grow. I loved hearing the stories from the other athletes, but how do you condense something like Ultraman into a three minute speech? I tried to write something down earlier that day to say when my turn came. But I couldn’t get what I wanted to come out. I figured it out later, but of course it was too late. I just made a lame joke about being sore after hobbling up onto stage, briefly mentioned my childhood dream of racing Ironman Hawaii and thanked my crew. I’m not big on talking about myself on stage, but here’s what I meant to say in that speech:

“When I was a kid, I dreamed of one day racing in Kona. Of racing at the Ironman World Championships. Little did I know that I would surpass even that craziness and come here to race in the World Championships of Ultraman. I had an amazing time this weekend. Despite an incredibly hard swim – over an hour slower than Canada last year, I made the cutoff on Day One. Being a cyclist has its advantage. Day two was probably my best day ever on a bike during a race. I’d like to thank Tracey for the “Legspiration” as a I followed her at 10-50 yards for almost 50 miles after she passed me at about mile 105. Day three started out well, and I was doing really well until someone turned up the heat out on the Queen K. But then Ingrid passed me. Once she got far enough ahead of me, the breeze picked back up and I was fine. I enjoyed the suffering immensely, and was glad to get to meet Michael Brown and his crew and to run with Suzy for a while. This experience has been amazing – thank you to Jane and Sheryl and to everyone who helps put this race on. Does anyone need crew for next year? Mahalo.”

After chatting with friends. The party ended with the promise of outrigger canoeing in the morning, the “4th event” at Ultraman.

You really cannot ask for a better race experience than an Ultraman. The Furnace Creek 508 has a family feel as well – a friend’s daughter referred to it a reunion of “the crazy family”, but Ultraman feels more real in the sense perhaps because the race organizers emphasize it. A big part of this comes from Hawaiian culture itself. The Aloha Spirit is indeed alive and well on the islands. I was heartened to see that not a single middle finger was extended out of a window by anyone. I saw a lot of shakas and people waving and yelling encouragement. But no angry people. They know what they have in Hawai’i. And they want to share it. Ultraman brings this together with a race that is a worthy challenge.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. November 29, 2012 7:56 pm

    Michael you ROCK! Was great to meet you and Joan. It was a pleasure to run with you and your crew too.I know our paths will cross again.

  2. Rod Smith (Shrek) permalink
    November 29, 2012 10:34 pm

    hey Mike
    Great summary. We have not met. I did Ultra UK. Reading your words I have revisited all those emotions that surge up on you throughout the journey. I congratulate you on your efforts and your journey and your excellent summary written from the heart. Rod Smith (Shrek)

  3. November 30, 2012 5:30 pm

    Congratulations Michael. You are an Ultraman! ….& it was 2 hrs long ;-). A hui hou. Til we meet again

  4. November 30, 2012 5:43 pm

    Haha! I guess you would know…

    Time goes by pretty fast when you’re on a massage table.

  5. CJ Ong, Jr. permalink
    December 1, 2012 1:30 am

    Nice. Congratulations.

  6. Tracey permalink
    December 1, 2012 11:45 pm

    oh what adventure is next!!!???!!! I can’t wait!!! Amazing work Mike!!

  7. December 2, 2012 2:13 am

    Next? Race Across The West. I currently have no desire whatsoever to do RAAM anymore, so RAW may be the longest race I ever do. After that, perhaps some more long triathlons – I love the Ultra triathlons… But they can’t be boring courses! Nothing in the pool or on the track!

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