#UMFL is Ultraman Florida

As an endurance athlete, the question most asked by friends, peers, my own athletes, and even my family is, “What’s next?” For me after Ironman Boulder in August, I took a little downtime and then started my campaign towards my next big test- Ultraman. I am always on the lookout for big tests, something longer and tougher, but still with an element of being able to go relatively quickly- a structured race. After 9 years and 18 ironmans, where my times ranged from 9:02 to 9:59, I actually find myself a little bored and no longer emotionally challenged by the distance. For years, I have been inspired and motivated by the pictures and stories coming from the big island the weekend after Thanksgiving. My first triathlon coach, Scott Molina, was always allowing me to train long and likely because he loved epic events- founding Epic Camp and himself an Ultraman World Champ. I also trained for a couple years with Gordo Byrn, another champion of the big island ultra-event. Inspired and intrigued by these gentlemen and my own wild imagination for endurance feats, Ultraman has been in my sights.

To me Ultraman, is more in the spirit of the original ironman in 1978, the ultimate challenge thrown out by the island of Oahu. Ultraman is an epic journey, it is a race, and the course makes sense- a circumnavigation of the big island of Hawaii. To me the course is most important to understand. The event is a three day stage race with its own cut-off times and a winner determined by cumulative time. On day 1, the 10km swim is from the Kailua-Kona pier to Keahou Bay (you know where the Sheraton is?). From there you transition to a 90 mile bike that rises from the coast dipping to the southern part of the island before heading north and back up to Volcano National Park and an altitude of 5000ft on the eastern side of the island for the completion of Day 1. On Day 2, Ultraman drops from Volcano to the eastern tip of the island and then heads north and west through Waimea and over the very green and lush Kohalo Mountains. Again the course rises over 5000 ft before dropping to the small town of Hawi- the famous ironman bike turn-around for the completion of day two. On day 3, this is where the whole race goes side-ways and scary, because in Ultraman you run back to Kailua-Kona from Hawi, a double marathon in distance. For anyone who has raced or followed ironman Hawaii- the whole concept makes you nauseas with excitement or just nauseas- to me it is the former.

Here is a link to Ultraman Florida’s Course Info.

Ultraman World Championships Course MapOver the years it has become more difficult to get a starting spot at the Ultraman World Champs, and they weight invitation consideration to finishers of the other ultraman events. Therefore, when I put aside the ideas of skiing, ideal training, or being 100% ready- I decided that attacking Ultraman Florida, 20-22 February 2015 was my first real step to the Ultraman World Champs. Ultraman Florida or #UMFL as I have been tweeting is the exact same distances as Kona, but does a spiral around the Orlando, Florida area. On day 1, the swim begins in a large double lake with two triangles to navigate, then rides out east and flat to Cocoa Beach. On day 2, we ride back from Cocoa Beach to the Clermont area where we take on most of the Great Floridian bike course (not mountainous, but part of the day is hilly). Finally, on Day 3, the double marathon does a sadistic little jaunt back onto another section of the GF bike course before navigating south around the two Minne lakes in Clermont. Then the run course goes more south and then east on the hilly portion of the famous red clay road. For those who have trained in Clermont, this probably sound likes a good 7 day training camp (and I agree!)

Ultraman Florida

This may better explain what the event- Ultraman Florida, and I hope it brings clarity to the distance.

However, I still might not have answered the question that many keep asking, “why?” Yes, I am over ironman for a little while, but still love swimming, biking, and running. I can’t really explain why I want to go ultra, so I will leave it to T.S. Eliot.

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

I am not a quote guy, but this may be the only way to explain myself, especially in the hyper-competitive communities in which I reside. Thanks for reading and I hope to have another post this week about my team. Ultraman requires a team to crew for you and I have a varsity squad for Ultraman Florida.

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