The Iron Cowboy rests his hat and wetsuit in Lehi after his 50-50-50 Challenge


Utah native James Lawrence has nearly completed the 50-50-50 Challenge.

On Saturday evening, July 25, he will have completed 50 Ironman courses in all 50 states in 50 consecutive days. Aptly nicknamed the Iron Cowboy, he will complete his superhuman journey at Thanksgiving Point’s Electric Park. He began his efforts in Hawaii on June 6.

An Ironman race includes a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run. That means that in 50 days, Lawrence has swum 120 miles, biked 5,600 miles and run 1,310 miles for a total of 7,030 miles completed. That’s like swimming, biking and running from San Diego to the very tip of Maine and back, with almost another 100 miles to fill.

Lawrence is already a world-record endurance racer. He holds the record for the most half and full triathlons completed in a year. He completed 22 half triathlons in 30 weeks in 2010, and 30 full triathlons in 2012. He won two titles and placed second in five races in 2012.

Lawrence’s efforts are not only an attempt to gain further renown for his endurance racing skills; he is running to raise greater focus on childhood obesity in America.

“There is a massive epidemic in this country,” Lawrence said in a press release announcing the conclusion of his 50-50-50 Challenge. “We need to change the way we eat, we need to change our activity levels, and we need to change our lifestyles.”

Lawrence’s website makes the claim that childhood obesity may make this generation of children the first to not outlive their parents. He hopes to motivate people and families to change their lifestyles to be more healthy in an attempt to combat childhood obesity.

“Change is hard. It’s really hard, but hard things come with incredible rewards,” Lawrence said. “I have high hopes that people will just be inspired and want to make a change.”

Lawrence and his team have encouraged the public to participate in each of his races in some way by running, biking or swimming with him for as long as they want for free.

Lawrence hopes his efforts also frame an example for his five young children.

“Everything I do, I do for them. I try to set big goals and accomplish them,” Lawrence said in the press release. “I want to be around for them as long as I can, and this is my motivation to get up and do those things.”

Lawrence will cross the finish line at Thanksgiving Point’s Electric Park at about 8:30 p.m. on Saturday. The Iron Cowboy team is organizing a celebration and a 5K run and has invited runners to join him in his last marathon course in his 50-50-50 challenge Saturday afternoon. See his website for details.

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