WACO, Texas — It was a big weekend in Waco as the city hosted a full and half Ironman race on Saturday and Sunday.
Competitors of all levels came to Central Texas to compete. Team Waco had it's own team competing as well with some competitors racing in the full and some in the half.
The event is put together by the Greater Waco Sports Commission which also signed a contract to host six additional Ironman competitions following this one.
Executive Director for Waco Sports Mike Vogelaar says they're happy to continue bringing in athletes from all over the world to compete and to help boost the city of Waco.
"The Ironman is the pinnacle event for triathlon. So this event this attracts folks from all over the world really not even just the convention but this is an international race," Vogelaar said.
The Ironman is a triathlon-style event including a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a marathon run (26.22 miles) all in one.
If you can believe it, one of the first individuals to ever compete in such an event came to Waco this weekend to compete in the 70.3, or half Ironman on Sunday.
"Out drinking beers this guy said who could who could do that? Who can run swim and bike?" 71-year-old Robert Owens said. "So I got there in year three. Year one was like 10 people, and year two was like 15 people. My year Sports Illustrated had an article on it and the world and heard about it for the very first time."
Owens is a former Special Ops and has competed in other Ironman events in the past including races on the national circuit. He said he plans to row a boat from the coast of Span to the Caribbean in a few months.
"I got classified about five years ago as the fittest and mentally toughest 66-year-olds in the world by Spartan Games, and it wasn't true. But I wanted to see in my 60s If I could be as strong as I was in my 20s when I was special ops," Owens said.
He says the Ironman is a tricky race that even with all the preparation in the world can bring up unforeseen challenges.
"You can train all you want but you hope you have your hydration right. You hope you have your calories right everything so that your body is in sync for that day," he said.
Vogelaar says triathlons are a sort of nameless sport, so he is happy to provide individuals who compete for a platform where they can shine on the highest level. Especially when competing in a race as challenging as an Ironman.
"This event is not possible without the support of Waco and really Central Texas," Vogelaar said. "What we're trying to do is really just help people understand some of the whys that some of these athletes have, and being able to be a part of the journey with them and this is just a part of their journey."
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