One telephone pole at a time, sometimes two.
The pain was becoming unbearable as his guts locked up, but Victor Wright wasn't about to give up. After all, he'd come too far to quit.
Ironman triathlons are not for the faint-hearted, but Wright persevered competing at the Ironman triathlon in Lake Placid, N.Y. finishing with a time of just under 13-and-a-half hours – slightly off the pace he finished the 2017 Ironman at Mont Tremblant, Que.
“I thought I did pretty good, considering this was a slightly tougher and more demanding course,” said Wright, a member of the Amherst Striders. “I was about 23 minutes slower than Tremblant, but it was tougher with more elevation.”
The Ironman, the hardest of the disciplines, included a 3.8-kilometre swim, 180 kilometres on the bike followed by a 42.2-kilometre run.
“It’s real test of your endurance,” Wright said.
Wright has done full and half triathlons plenty of times in the past. For this one, he started training almost as soon as the 2017 event in Quebec concluded. He and friend, Sean Ward, started preparing for Lake Placid, but Ward had to withdraw after his wife had a baby.
Wright picked up his training pace about six months out, swimming at the YMCA during the winter and Silver Lake in Sackville, N.B. during the summer. Along with that, he biked increasing distances to get his ‘biking legs’ prepared, going as high as 220 kilometres at one time. He also continued running with the Striders and on his own time building up his stamina and preparing his body for the Ironman.
Being in Nova Scotia places triathletes such as Wright at a bit of a competitive disadvantage compared to those from warmer climates since they can train outdoor year-round while he has to train inside in the winter months.
“You almost feel as though you don’t get enough training in, but I got as much in as I could,” the 45-year-old Wright said. “Coming from a colder climate makes it more difficult.”
Wright said he struggled a bit with the run at the end of the Ironman. As was the case last year at Tremblant when his stomach began acting up and he had to alternate between walking and running for the last 20 kilometres, he ran into similar problems early on at Lake Placid.
“I got about a kilometre in and my guts locked up. Some people have issues with their legs, for me it’s my stomach. You get cramps,” Wright said. “When it started, I was determined to run as much as I could. I would walk one telephone pole length and then run another. I alternated that and doing two and then running two. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do to finish.”
He said the elevation involved at Lake Placid really impacted him. While last year’s triathlon in Quebec featured rolling hills, the New York Ironman was flat until he had to climb the equivalent of five kilometres in one run.
“It’s hard on the legs. It’s all uphill, there’s no breaks,” he said. “It’s a lot of elevation.”
Wright said he’s happy being able to finish the Ironman, considering it a major accomplishment in his triathlon career. He’s not sure if he has another one in him, though.
“I can’t say for sure whether or not I will do it again, but I have to say I felt 10 times better after this one than the last one,” he said. “There’s a saying that marathoners are the one per cent of population. Well, Ironmen are the .1 per cent. It’s very demanding, but it’s also very rewarding when you cross the finish line.”