Will Turner is aiming to complete 60 Iron-distance triathlons in a single year—and smashing a world record along the way.
When I catch up with WILL Turner, he’s in his car driving from his hometown in Richmond, Va. down to New Orleans to compete in a quintuple ultra-triathlon—five Ironman distance triathlons (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run) back-to-back for five consecutive days. But he isn’t stopping there.
A few years ago, as Turner’s 60th birthday approached,
he decided to set a big goal to celebrate the milestone: complete six Ironman distance triathlons in a single year. Excited, he shared the idea with a friend, who informed him that another Richmond athlete had just completed the same feat.
“In goal setting, there is a premise called the 10 Factor,” says Turner.
“You take the original goal and you multiply it by 10. By setting a huge goal, it forces you to take another look at the original goal and how you would accomplish it.” Turner began to wonder. Could he multiply his original goal times ten and complete 60 Ironman distance triathlons the year he turned 60?
When Turner was training for his first Ironman back when he was turning 50, he came across a quote that became his mantra:
If your dream doesn’t scare you it’s not big enough.
“The idea of 60 fit my litmus test of scaring me,” he says. “I had to do some mental gymnastics to wrap my head around it.”
Turner isn’t a professional athlete.
At his day job, he works for the company he co-founded called RefuseOrdinary. The company specializes in delivering sales, leadership, and productivity training, helping sales and management teams improve their performance. He’s also a USAT certified coach, helping athletes train and reach their potential. In other words, he knows a thing or two about reaching for big goals.
Turner began competing more, pushing his body to see if it could withstand the abuse that 60 Ironman-distance triathlons would certainly inflict. His body held up, so Turner committed to completing 60 Ironman-distance triathlons in 2018, the year he turned 60.
That’s an average of 1 Ironman-distance race every 6 days.
When I chat with Turner in mid-November, he’s completed 51 races out of 60. If all goes well in New Orleans, his goal will be just 4 races away and tantalizingly within reach. “I’m on track,” says Turner. “It’s gone amazingly well.”
There aren’t 60 Ironman-length races in the world in a single year, so Turner participates in sanctioned races when he can and then completes on-your-own events while following the rules and regulations of official races. His first race was on January 6, 2018 in Naples, Florida and his 60th, he hopes, will be in Richmond on December 31, 2018. “I’ll finish around 9 or 10pm, shower, and then have a big New Year’s Eve party to celebrate,” says Turner.
It must be noted: Turner isn’t just smashing his own goal; he’s shattering the Guinness World Record as well.
The current world record is 44 Ironman-distance triathlons in a year, a number he surpassed back in October at an event at Lake Anna, Va.
In between that first race in Naples and the last one in Richmond, Turner and his friend Chris Destefano, who supports Turner during his races, have traveled the country. Only once, in Telluride, Colorado, has Turner had to abandon an ultra-triathlon attempt. In that instance, Turner had completed his swim and 70 out of 112 miles on the bike when Chris broke the news that a wildfire had come over the pass and created air quality conditions too serious to continue.
Turner’s dogged attempt to reach his goal has taken him to some of the most spectacular places in the country.
He’s completed “triathlons along California’s Big Sur, in Grand Canyon National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Glacier National Park. One of his favorite races was in the Grand Tetons. “The whole day I was just soaking up the beauty of the Grand Tetons, the energy of the space, and the warmth of the people that I was surrounded by that day,” says Turner.
Live Your Bold
Turner hopes that his year of ultra-triathlons can have a higher purpose. “I want it to be more meaningful than me just doing 60 Ironmans,” he says. Because he loves helping people set big goals and examine and identify their limiting beliefs, Turner has created Live Your Bold, a movement that helps people unlock their own potential and step out of their comfort zones via speaking engagements, workshops, and a starter kit that he gives away on his website liveyourbold.com.
As for Turner, when his big year is over, he’s looking forward to inching a little closer back to his comfort zone—even if just temporarily. “I’m looking forward to doing some things I really enjoy doing like speed and tempo work and strength conditioning,” he says. “I’d love to be able to go out for a run and not run 26.2 miles,” Turner adds with a laugh. “Doing an eight-mile run would be amazing.”