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A 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride, finished up with a 26.2-mile run.
That it what it takes to complete an Ironman competition. Piece of cake, right?
Ironman competitors may be pretty rare, but over the last couple of years the popularity of the day-long endurance test has increased. So much so that Robert Radcliffe was able to talk his brothers into doing it.
"Originally I got into triathlon first," said Robert. "Then my brother Brook got into it, and then my brother Michael. But around Christmas time were talking and felt it would be cool if we all did one together."
Robert, 34, Brook, 32, and Michael Radcliffe, 20, were all born and raised in Utah. The Cottonwood and Olympus High alums eventually moved away. Michael and Brook now live California, but Robert lives in Salt Lake City and their parents, Ron and Judy, have lived in Holladay for the past 40 years.
In June, the Radcliffe trio completed their first Ironman together in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Robert, the veteran of the bunch, finished in 9:52:10. Brook crossed at 11:24:31, and Michael completed his very first competition in 12:41:17. But while the youngest member of the trio crossed the finish line last, to the Radcliffe family it was more about the experience than the numbers on the clock.
"Ironman is all about the journey," said Robert as he began to get emotional when he discussed the moment when his little brother crossed the finish line for the first time. "Race day is a lot of anxiety and nervous tension so you can't live for that day. You're in the pain cave for 10 to 17 hours, but if you're not enjoying the journey and living it then you're missing it. Because this is a lifestyle and it brought us all so much closer together."
Since Robert's first Ironman back in 2009, the Radcliffe family has turned the triathlons into family vacations. While Robert was able to eventually recruit his younger brothers into joining him, the trio has become closer than ever.
"As a mom it's very emotional, and it's been a wonderful experience because it's brought my boys so close together," said Judy. "The two older ones [Robert and Brook] have really gotten close, and Michael was always close to his big brothers. But this is the closest I've ever seen Rob and Brook in their whole lives, and now they have something they're working for together."
Since the Radcliffes live in the different cities, they make sure to keep tabs on one another. Training for the Ironman generally takes 20 hours a week for six months. Because of the intense training schedule that triathletes have to endure, Robert believes that the Ironman is something you can't fake.
Most of the successful contestants ironically don't have big strong physiques. The top finishers usually have lean builds and stand around six-feet tall and weigh close to 150 pounds. Because of the marathon-style run and 112-mile bike ride, the competition is geared to athletes who have a distance-running or cross-country background.
However, the Radcliffes have neither. Their childhood sport of choice was dirt bike riding. In terms of athletic prowess, brother Andrew would probably be more suited for the competition: He's a skier and was an all-state soccer player in high school. But according to Judy, Andrew is the most laid-back of the bunch and doesn't have the slightest bit of interest in the triathlon.
"Andrew is definitely the best athlete in the family and we're keeping him out because we don't want to get beat," Brook jokingly said. "But we'd love for him to catch the bug so all four of us of could run.
After the race was over, the family went to a Brazilian restaurant so that the trio could enjoy themselves by eating everything they wanted to but couldn't for the last six months. Brook said the feast was a reward for all the hard work they put in, as they stayed and ate for over two hours.
Since the June race, the brothers have all been recuperating. It takes a few weeks for the body to fully heal after completing an Ironman. But they have already started to plan their training regimen for their next event. The Radcliffe brothers say that the experience of it is what keeps them going.
"Pain is temporary, but quitting is forever," said Brook.
"There has to be something inside you that's a little different to do this," said Michael. "Truth be told, it's probably not the best thing for your body. You have to have something different going on upstairs."
Spoken like a true Ironman. Cast iron
The Ironman is the only triathlon in which all participants start the swimming portion simultaneously.
The first Ironman competition took place in 1978.
The Ironman consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile run.