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60 races in 60 days … Are the madmen who run the Ironman every day human?


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What did you do between October and December 2021? The Estonian ultra-triathlete Rait Ratasepp, has been stuffed 60 consecutive Ironman. 60 days swimming 3.8 km, cycling 180 km and running a marathon for inhuman performance. Put together, the numbers are colossal: 228 km in water, 10,800 km by bike and 2,532 km by running. All while imposing the official rules, just to not get bored too much on the way: no aspiration by bike, no walking, regulated supplies and a target time (never more than 11 hours).

Earlier in the year from March 1 to June 8, James Lawrence – known as Iron Cowboy – did 101 Ironman in 101 days on a circuit of his manufacture in Lindon, Utah. The Canadian had already chained for 50 days in 2015, an unapproved record because of a day completed on the elliptical trainer following a fall which prevented him from continuing normally. The same year, a Frenchman, Ludovic Chorgnon, was doing a little less well on his challenge 41 – 41 in 41 days – but had put in the forms to officially engrave it in the tablets. “There was a referee from the federation of triathlon and doping controls”, explains the Loir-et-chérien.

“Rehearsing Ironman is very easy”

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Seen from Earth, the administrative character of the prowess of these extraterrestrials seems quite superfluous. If one question comes to mind, it’s: are these people crazy, unconscious, or both? Chorgnon may call himself “Ludo the mad”, he refutes the theory of the inhuman. For him, these exploits are the most rational.

“Rehearsing Ironman is very easy for someone who is used to doing it. It is normal to do ten hours of sport a day for a person who has been a routine for years. Doing one Ironman a day at a slower pace is normal. “

The waterfall is performed by a professional, do not try to reproduce it at home. Because in addition to being overtrained, these extreme athletes are subject to extensive medical monitoring. The doctor Alain Aumaréchal knows “the madman” by heart for having followed him in challenge 41. He says: “We made a sort of point before to see if there was no problem. We were going a little into the unknown, so we were monitoring certain biological parameters. After several days, we realized that these parameters had normalized despite his continued efforts. It means that the body is used to it. “

Up to 10,000 calories ingested daily

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The habituation stage cannot be acquired without an insane caloric consumption, the consequence of an energy expenditure hardly less lunar. The French ingested more than 9,000 calories during his challenge. James Lawrence, between 6,000 and 10,000 calories per day, including 3,500 at breakfast (“eggs and fried potatoes, every day”). If the adaptability of the human stomach is well known, it is nevertheless necessary to arrange its meals in order to reach the desired total in 24 hours. Chorgnon: “I ate very healthy things every hour, omelets from the blood sausage, and in general foods that are not too hard to digest” “It must remain a pleasure, adds Aumaréchal, because eating so much is an effort in itself. “

Finally, it is difficult to evoke performances that are part of time without addressing the chapter of recovery. Massages and cryotherapy in the evening, stretching and gradual waking up in the morning, the Frenchman had his routine to maintain the machine. “The danger in this kind of challenge is above all mechanical,” the doctor tells us. Tendons, muscles, bones, how far can they hold? “

At the end of the suffering

Very far, on condition of being called James Lawrence. During his 101-day challenge, the Canadian created countless physiological imbalances from one ankle injury, resulting in another to the shin and then a final to the hip. “At one point, we even thought I was going to break my leg because of all the kilometers traveled,” the Iron Cow-boy told Radio-Canada. “The pain got to the point that some days I would almost pass out, then come to myself and keep going. »Ludo the madman:

“The idea is to work so that you don’t have any weak points. I’m saying something stupid, but if you don’t pay attention to detail, you can quickly get rotten feet from the blisters and you can say goodbye to the record. If you have a single point of failure, you are dead. “

Unsurprisingly, therefore, the lifestyle is not sustainable in the medium and long term. Alain Aumaréchal evokes, among other things, the worn discs and this back soon unsuitable for running Ludovic Chorgnon. Physical activity at its peak is no longer the one whose benefits can be praised. “These guys will not have the life expectancy of guys who do a little less sport”, concludes the doctor.

What meaning in all of this? What is the use of mortgaging the last years of his life for sure? Rait Ratasepp seems content to sell the dream to his followers. In 2015, Lawrence was raising funds for the Jamie Oliver Foundation. In 2021, he wanted to face the constraint of confinement by running in a small area. Ludovic Chorgnon wanted to prove that he could offer an exhibition in Loir-et-Cher. An effective way to justify an entire way of life and avoid coming across as the crazy people they are all the same a bit.


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