Five years ago, James Lawrence did the impossible. The endurance athlete completed 50 consecutive Ironmans within 50 days. If you’re not familiar with triathlons, this is a 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike tour topped off with a full 26.2 mile marathon. The effort put him on the Guinness World Records with several successes that have not been touched since. It’s been like this so far: Lawrence tries the impossible again, although this time he doubles it. That’s right, this time he’s aiming to do 100 consecutive Ironmans. “I didn’t think 75 seemed hard enough,” Lawrence told Men’s Journal when asked how he eventually got that number. The sentence is said with the matter-of-fact attitude and steely focus that earned it the nickname Iron Cowboy. “And why not?”
Lawrence is currently in the midst of the Hurculean efforts in his home state of Utah, surrounded by his team – Ms. Sunny and five children. We spoke to the Iron Cowboy about how he works out, relaxes, and stays mentally fit to complete the Conquer 100 Challenge.
How ‘Iron Cowboy’ James Lawrence prepared to tackle 100 consecutive Ironmans
Men’s Journal: How did the idea for the Conquer 100 come about?
James Lawrence: I would say I first considered it two years ago. My body came to a place where it had fully recovered from attempt 50. I began to long for something new – something bigger. After I reached 50, it became possible to do more. As we thought about it, we noticed some of the logistical and training mistakes we had made. There were clear things we could do to push the boundaries further.
What physical strain did 50 Ironmans put on your body?
There was a tear in my shoulder that I didn’t have to deal with for five days. I developed severe tendinitis in my legs, as well as foot blisters and toenail loss. I think I lost six of my ten toenails over time. I had body deterioration throughout, but you just had to learn to deal with it. You learn to deal with pain. The biggest fallout I had to deal with was completely numb fingers and toes after graduation. It probably took me six months, if not a year, to get that feeling back. And now that I’ve got it back, I can get back out there and try something crazy again.