LINDON, Utah County — Fifty Ironman triathlon distances in 50 consecutive days through all 50 states.
Some people are calling the feat impossible, but that’s exactly what 39-year-old James Lawrence says he will do to raise awareness and money to fight childhood obesity.
Preparing to tackle the seemingly impossible, father of five, husband and two-time Guinness World Record holder says there's no stopping him.
“I don’t plan on failing. There isn’t an option B,” Lawrence said.
Given the nickname the “Iron Cowboy” for wearing vibrant colored cowboy hats during his triathlon competitions over the years, Lawrence said he’s already broken two world records. So why not break another?
“I dominated the 2012 world record, smashing it by 10 races, winning two titles and placing second in five others," he said. "My mind and body actually got stronger as I progressed through the 30 races through 11 countries.
"I know my limits were not reached in 2012, and I want to test the true limits of my mind and body with this new 50-50-50 challenge. And I want the people of the United States and around the world to join me.”
With support from local and national sponsors, Lawrence will attempt to run 50 full Ironman courses in 50 consecutive days in all 50 states — totalling more than 7,000 miles of biking, running and swimming.
“We are being told it’s impossible," he said. "I was told by doctors and physicians I’m going to die. I'm not delusional to the fact that we are taking some risks, but I've also assembled an unbelievable team to mitigate those risks. We are taking every precaution that we can. We've been meticulous with our preparations."
Despite the strong warning from medical professionals, Lawrence said this is a feat that, in his mind, is necessary.
"The epidemic is so crazy that I had to do something that equaled its craziness in order for people to pay attention,” he said.
Kids and family are Lawrence's No. 1 priority, he said. There are certain scenarios where he will pull the plug on the challenge, "but it has to be pretty extreme."
Lawrence will be joined by Ironman athletes across the country raising money and awareness for childhood obesity through the charity Quiet Way. The charity currently raises money to build dams for children in need of water in Africa.
Lawrence said Quiet Way will be starting a new chapter of the charity to raise funds for adolescent and childhood obesity.
“All the funds that are raised from the registrations are all going to the cause,” he said.
Lawrence's first race will be June 6 in Hawaii, followed by Alaska on June 7.
“We decided to get Hawaii and Alaska out of the way first because there are commercial flights involved,” he said.
Lawrence said he's hoping to cross his 50th finish line on July 25 in Provo.
"Ultimately, I'm not out there to prove anybody wrong at this point," he said. "When I cross that finish line, it will just be a celebration of just a massive accomplishment completed, and it will be a celebration of — hopefully — in excess of $1 million raised for charity."
Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc