When James Lawrence, also known as the Iron Cowboy, completed 10 consecutive full-distance triathlons in 10 days, he felt a sense of relief.
“It was a good 10 days,” he said.
But, it wasn’t over. The next morning, he swam, rode his bike and ran again.
Conquering 100, a feat that will last 100 days during which Lawrence will complete 100 consecutive triathlons, began March 1. Lawrence, who lives in Lindon, will continue the daily triathlons every day until June 8.
“I’m doing it to raise money for Operation Underground Railroad,” Lawrence said.
Operation Underground Railroad is a non-profit organization that assists in rescuing victims of human trafficking, especially focusing on children.
Each morning, Lawrence begins swimming at 5:30 a.m. at Lindon Aquatics Center. After swimming 2.4 miles, he cycles around Utah Lake for 112 miles, followed by running a marathon — 26.2 miles — along the Murdock Canal Trail. His daily triathlon usually ends about 8 p.m. Then, the next morning, he gets up and starts again.
This isn’t James Lawrence’s first superhuman accomplishment. In 2010, he broke the world record by completing 22 half triathlons in 30 weeks. In 2012, he broke another record by completing 30 full triathlons in one calendar year. Then, in 2015, he completed 50 full triathlons in 50 consecutive days in all 50 states, traveling to a different state every day. This current feat will be another record; Guinness World Records has certified his courses.
Because he had already done 50 triathlons in 50 days, he wanted to choose a new goal that scared him somewhat.
“Our goals have to be hard, they have to scare us a little bit, make us feel a little bit nervous,” he said. Conquering 100 triathlons in 100 days is just the thing to make him feel pumped up and challenged.
For four months before March 1, Lawrence and his team prepared by going through a concentrated training camp.
“Something like this you train a lifetime for, not knowing you’re going to do it. This isn’t something you just get up and do one day,” he said.
“At the end of the day, you feel tired, you feel sore, you feel accomplished and start figuring how to get ready for the next day,” he said. “I have a large team of support.”
Lawrence, who gained the moniker “Iron Cowboy” in 2012 after he began wearing cowboy hats during his marathons so that his kids could see him, also feels supported by the spectators that come out to watch and those who participate with him, including his wife and five children.
“That’s what it’s all about,” he said.
When the going gets tough, Lawrence thinks about why he is doing what he is doing. When one why doesn’t cut it, he moves on to the next why, he said. When he was doing the 50 triathlons, every time he passed a nice house, his why was to build his wife, Sunny, the house of her dreams, he said.
Lawrence said that after doing the 50 triathlons in 50 days in 50 states, he received many messages from people who had been empowered to change their own lives and conquer their own demons. He’s hoping that this time, there will be an even stronger impact.
Money is raised for Operation Underground Railroad through donations.
“When we catch people’s eyes, they will donate,” said Lucy Lawrence, James’ daughter, who helps with the project behind the scenes. As of day 10 of Conquer 100, $13,530.75 had been donated, with a final goal of $100,000.
“A lot of people come out to race with him or they can do a virtual 5K from wherever they are in the spirit of doing it with us,” Lucy Lawrence said.
While it’s not a requirement to make a donation in order to run along with him, many people do.
“The more people we get involved, the more awareness there is,” she said.
Patrick Oborn is a friend of James Lawrence and a fellow runner. He has been doing the marathon portion of the triathlon with him on some days, helping him with his pacing, calories, hydration and focusing on breathing.
“In the running community, our motto is ‘Friends don’t let friends do crazy stuff alone,’ ” Oborn said. “It’s really helpful to have people there.”
In addition to his team, others join the Iron Cowboy just to be part of it. Oborn said that people come and ask if they can run a mile with him. A group of kids from one neighborhood along the trail meets him every day to ride along with him for a bit.
“He talks to people, waves, high fives,” Oborn said. “These people are witnessing history.”
A schedule and tracker are available on the Iron Cowboy website, http://ironcowboy.com. Donations can also be made there. More information and daily updates can be found on Facebook at Iron Cowboy or Instagram @ironcowboyjames.