With the postponement of the 2021 Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, last year, as well as continuing Covid-19 restrictions still in-place during the decision-making process of the Wanda Sports Holdings company, several likely destinations submitted alternate offers, from which St. George prevailed under the sponsorship of the Utah Sports Commission and Intermountain Healthcare. Brutal enough in its traditional home, a more contrasting 2,880-foot elevation environment was selected, so aridly different from the more relatively hospitable tropically lush, warm water, sea-level courses to attract these participants from some 80 countries world-wide.
Among them, 41-year-old father of four, Glendale resident Christian “Chris” Williams, who in tandem with friend Mike Newsome of Long Island, New York, set out on Saturday, May 9, to conquer the course, under the auspices of the Southern Utah Triathlon Club. Both athletes are employed by Virtue Paintball, LLC, owned by Mike, for which Chris functions as Vice-President, typically traveling away from home one-week a month, often including Europe and South America to supervise tournaments and such.
In his grueling completion time of 12:40:02, Chris earned 151st-place out of 336 competitors in the Men’s 40-44 age bracket. He took 747th place out of 1,833 by gender. And overall, he was 833rd place out of the entire 2,295 field.
His 2.4-mile frigid swim time was 1:16:27 for 176th in the M40-44 class, 993rd by gender and 1,883rd overall. In the 112-mile bike race, with its total elevation gain of 7,374 feet on two loops around Snow Canyon State Park, he took 200th M40-44, by gender 1,030rd and 1,183rd overall. In the 26.2-mile marathon run, with its elevation gain of 1,431 feet, he aced 98th in M40-44, 501st by gender and 620th overall, to the finish line on Main, just south of Tabernacle Street.
Back home, following a well-deserved rest, Chris offered a few insights. “I’ve done five ‘half marathons’ (70.3 Marathon), one of them for the Half Marathon World Championship. And I feel better after having done this than with any of the other races that I’ve ever done! That’s because of the strategy and plan that we executed for the race: conserving energy with the swim, that’s with the bike and then to reach the run really well.”
“That’s the hardest part to do. By that point, everyone’s exhausted physically and emotionally. The heat’s getting hotter. It’s a hard course: a lot of elevation gain. There were people that were really struggling. We passed hundreds of people while Mike and I were running in the ‘3rdsteep’ of the marathon.”
“It was a real great experience! Usually, I feel terrible a day or two afterwards, but I felt just great. Part of the race is nutrition. I had to hydrate with 12 bottles of electrolytes, probably six or seven on the bike alone, at least, on the marathon. And I was taking electrolyte supplements and had gels for energy. Just making sure that I was at the right time. We timed ourselves walking (uphill), and to drink really trying to stay with the plan for our bodies.
“A lot of it you carry with you: pouches in the jersey or stuff on the bike itself. We stopped twice just to re-fi ll the bottles. They have bottles when you drive by that you take. You have a high-quality neck-scarf: you ride by the Aid Station, and they fill it with ice. You can take bottles as you go through and drink some and pour them over your head. I was often running at 120/beats-per-minute heart rate. Usually, I’m at 150; but I was so conserving energy. People were ‘dying’ from heat exhaustion. [In 2012, someone actually did.]. My heartrate’s great!”
He expects to enter the 70.3 Marathon in Hawaii on June 4 but will bypass the 2022 World Championship there in October.