Five years ago, James Lawrence did the impossible. Over the course of 50 days, the endurance athlete completed 50 consecutive Ironmans. If you’re not familiar with triathlons, that’s a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, topped off with a full 26.2-mile marathon. The effort landed him in the Guinness World Records with several achievements that haven’t been touched since. That is until now: Lawrence is attempting the impossible again, although this time he’s doubling it. That’s right, he’s aiming to complete 100 consecutive Ironmans this time. “I didn’t think 75 seemed hard enough,” Lawrence tells Men’s Journal, when questioned how he ultimately came to the number. The phrase is said with the no-nonsense attitude and steely focus that’s earned him the moniker the Iron Cowboy. “And because why not?”
Lawrence is currently in the midst of the Hurculean effort in his home state of Utah, surrounded by his team—wife, Sunny, and five children. We spoke with the Iron Cowboy about how he’s training, recovering, and staying mentally fit to complete the Conquer 100 challenge.
How ‘Iron Cowboy’ James Lawrence Prepped to Tackle 100 Consecutive Ironmans
Men’s Journal: How did the idea of the Conquer 100 begin?
James Lawrence: I’d say I first considered it two years ago. My body was getting to a place where it was fully recovered from the 50 attempt. I was starting to crave something new—something bigger. Now that I’d accomplished the 50, doing more became possible. On reflection we started to see some of the logistical and training mistakes we made. There were clear things we could implement to push the boundaries further.
What kind of a physical toll did 50 Ironmans take on your body?
There was a tear in my shoulder I had to deal with only five days in. I developed severe tendinitis in my legs, as well as foot blistering and toenail loss. I believe I lost six of my 10 toenails over the course of it. I was experiencing body deterioration throughout, but you just had to learn to deal with it. You learn how to manage pain. The biggest fallout I dealt with was completely numb fingers and toes after finishing. It probably took me six months, if not a year, for me to get that feeling back. And now that I have it back, I’m able to get back out there and attempt something crazy again.