Inspiration for Personal Innovation at Ironman Wisconsin

Ironman Wisconsin happens each September in Madison, Wisconsin. Thousands of competitors converge in this great city to do one of the ultimate physical tests of the body and mind. It is like an all you can eat buffet of personal motivation that day. You leave watching that race wanting to start something remarkable, do big things, and overcome great odds. You witness inspiring stories swimming, biking, and running by you every single minute. I saw a blind man run by me. Five minutes later a man with one leg ran past. I saw all ages and all body types. I saw people do something that they or the ones who know them will never forget.

Take for instance my friend Chris. He hadn’t really exercised very much in the last 10 years and wanted to suddenly change his life. He was catalyzed to innovate himself so about five months ago he did something that none of us could believe. He signed up for the Ironman. I thought that if this guy can complete the Ironman anything is possible. It had been a while since I had actually seen with my own eyes an inspirational journey as drastic and amazing as this happen. He decided to sign up for the Ironman even though he wasn’t doing any swimming, biking, and running and he would have to do a 2.4 mile swim, then a 112 mile bike ride, and run a full marathon of 26.2 miles. Just doing one of those things seemed impossible…much less all three in one day. But Chris knew something about himself. He knew what he might be capable of. He flew to Nepal and Bali and trained on his own for months. He lost 65 pounds.

On race day I saw him complete the swim in thirty minutes less time than he thought he would. I biked alongside him as he passed five people on the 111th mile. I saw him tell stories as he ran the marathon. Dreams are coming true and the impossible is happening once again, because in his first Ironman Triathalon ever Chris became an Ironman. He pulled the whole thing off in 14 hours and 44 minutes. The last split of the run was his best time. He was energized and joked with people drinking margaritas as he ran up the State Street hill towards the finish by the Capitol. I followed him around the course on my bike and it was one of the most motivating experiences I’ve had in quite some time. I was in the audience of the performance of a lifetime.

Finding inspiration for personal innovation is something that is worth seeking. I’m glad I spent the day at Ironman…I soaked up inspiration and motivation from friends and strangers and my mind is now working on ideas to do something big myself. I am thinking about what my own Ironman might be. There is an amazing video highlighting some inspiring stories from Ironman. It is emotional, compelling, and inspiring. Just try to keep a dry eye while watching.


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