Q: What’s harder than swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, and then running 26.2 miles, all in the same day?
A: Doing it every day, for 50 days straight, covering all 50 states.
Utah native James Lawrence conceived his world-record feat in a friend’s kitchen. He had just finished his 27th IronMan triathlon, on his way to a Guinness World Record for most Ironman events in one year (30, in 2012). Lawrence realized, “I knew I hadn’t reached my mental and physical limits.” There in that kitchen he came up with the idea for the 50-50-50, “A new precedent for what the mind and body is capable of.”
Why do such a thing? Lawrence says simply, “People told me it couldn’t be done.” He was proud to set an example of determination and perseverance for his five kids, who along with his wife and friends were a part of his traveling support team; but he also raised awareness and funds to fight the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, with a focus on decreasing rates of childhood obesity.
On obstacles to accomplishing a goal, Lawrence says, “It takes a creative mind to keep pressing forward when obstacles are placed in your path. Most would use these as an excuse to quit. These obstacles are mere speed bumps on your way to accomplishing plan A.” When asked about how he dealt with doubt and overcoming it, Lawrence responded simply, “Doubt is the first step to creating an excuse to quit. You need belief and conviction in order to accomplish the ‘impossible’. You don’t overcome; you adjust and keep moving forward.”
Despite thorough training, Lawrence’s body underwent some terrible stresses during the 50-50-50. In addition to eating like a horse and sleeping at every opportunity, he says, “I relied heavily on chiropractic and massage. We did scraping (soft tissue methods), cold laser, laser and needle acupuncture among other things.” These methods, and Lawrence’s iron will, helped him achieve the impossible.
Lawrence dismisses the 50-50-50 record as “a piece of paper.” He states that the real achievement was, “I have changed, my family has changed and those that were with us out there have changed. This is about the experiences and the people we’ve met and impacted along the way. We raised a lot for charity and have made lifelong friends.”