This month we have something a little different on our blog! In addition to recaps from our Pros of late April/early May racing, we give you this article by RTS AG Member JD Tremblay, recounting his experience at Ultraman Israel this past March.
JD competes in some of the toughest ultra distance triathlons in the world. He is one of only three athletes worldwide to ever complete the Epideca - a challenge to complete 10 Ironmans in one year (Results ‹ EPIC5 Challenge – Ultra Endurance Adventures).
He launched his book Hunger For More in Life: Conquer Mental Struggles, Defy Limitations and Discover Purpose Through Epic Achievements at Ironman Texas on April 27! You can check it out here: Hunger For More in Life: Conquer Mental Struggles, Defy Limitations, and Discover Purpose Through Epic Achievements: Tremblay, JD: 9798387021176: Amazon.com: Books.
Here are JD’s thoughts, in his own words, about competing in Ultraman Israel:
How it Started
Last year, my racing schedule was filled with 12 iron-distance races, 4 world championships,
and multiple events to get others involved in endurance sports. Knowing my coach wanted me to take a break and have a vacation, I immediately said I wanted to visit Israel - the birthplace of iconic places - and take part in Ultraman Israel: 10km swimming, followed by 421km cycling
and 84km running over 3 days with a 12-hour cut-off per day. My coach agreed, so long as
injury didn’t occur. T
To prepare for this feat unlike any other, my crew and I went to an airsoft shooting range for weeks, knowing that military activity is common in Israel. This training was necessary to ensure we experienced less trauma from the change in scenery. It may have seemed strange for triathlon training, but it was nevertheless important for those who have not been exposed to war elsewhere or forgotten what it looks like.
On the first day of the race, I had to complete my 10km swim with goggles borrowed from
another athlete. I then hopped on my bike, battling salt-afflicted eyes, helmet switches and honking cars until I arrived at the finish line in time - even having to navigate through a protest
alone. Back at the team base, they called the driver’s wife for extra ice due to lack thereof.
Despite a punctured tire and mechanical issues, I stayed calm and remembered that races are about making relationships and creating bonds rather than who finishes first.
On Day 2 of the cycling event, I quickly realized I was jet-lagged and struggling with the
desert heat that reached 41 degrees Celsius [almost 106 Fahrenheit]. Due to the lack of acclimatization, I had to rely on precision fuel and hydration items for my survival, as proper fueling and hydration were essential in the desert environment. I kept up my morale by joking with my crew while being reminded of the much cooler temperatures back home in Canada.
Unfortunately, my rear wheel hub broke after 4 hours, and with police stopping our crew car, we missed the 12-hour cut-off time by 40km. As soon as I noticed that I would not meet the cut-off time, I decided to take it slow and make more stops so as not to strain morale or tire myself too much. Still, I pushed on until we were forced to pack up.
At the hotel, everyone welcomed us warmly - knowing that races are about exploring horizons and making friends rather than finishing. Due to my large pedigree of previously completing some of the most extreme triathlons in the world, everyone knew that I could have easily kept going if not for the cut-off time.
On the final day, athletes lined up along the Red Sea to complete 84km in two 42km loops. I
ran a few km with the other participants to motivate them before slowing my pace. my son joined me for 10km, making it an extra special moment for father-and-son.
After completing one loop, I took my son to the pool and then went out to eat at a local restaurant by the water while our driver crewed a friend who was still racing. At the finish line, we celebrated with everyone once the last athlete crossed.
After the event, I toured Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, where tourism was booming - despite the
tension in the area. I found my experience to be unique and memorable due to the wonderful
staff who made such an amazing event out of their resources. This reminds us that sometimes it
isn’t about finishing the race that benefits our mental health but all the connections and people
we meet along the way.