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50 Ironmans. 50 Days. 50 States: The Iron Cowboy’s Assault on Impossible — Musings on Limits, Conviction, Family & Service

By May 24, 2015January 19th, 202413 Comments

“You can set as many goals as you want. But without belief and conviction, it won’t happen.”

James “Iron Cowboy” Lawrence

UPDATE: July 26, 2015. He did it. Yesterday I had the great honor and privilege of running the final marathon with James, and watching him cross the finish line on his 50th ironman in 50 states in 50 days to the deafening cheers of over 1,000 fans in attendance. What James has accomplished isn’t just stunning — it’s truly one of the greatest achievements in the history of (voluntary) human endurance. We made plans to do a follow up podcast today, but alas he lost his voice taking the time to talk to all his fans late into the evening last night. However, I promise we will reconvene very soon so I can bring you the full story, pillar to post. Until then, please enjoy this prefatory conversation.

People roll their eyes in incredulity when I tell them about my experience completing 5 ironman-distance triathlons on five Hawaiian Islands in under a week. If you are one of those people, brace yourself. This week’s guest will blow the lid off everything you thought you knew about human potential. The capacity to suffer. And the will to endure.

James Lawrence — aka the Iron Cowboy — is a husband. A proud father of five kids. And an athlete with two Guinness World Records in triathlon: most 70.3 races in a calendar year (22 in 30 weeks) and most Ironman triathlons in a calendar year (30).

Nonetheless, James is restless. He knows he is capable of so much more.

So just two weeks from today, on June 6, 2015 the Iron Cowboy will strive for the seemingly impossible when he attempts a challenge so mind numbing I get delirious just thinking about it:

50 Ironman courses, 50 consecutive days, through all 50 States.

You read it correctly. James’ impending adventure is literally 10x the magnitude and degree of difficulty of anything I have personally experienced — a challenge that will test James’ mind, body and soul beyond anything I can personally fathom.

The best part? He is inviting everyone to join with him.

This week I sit down with James to sort it all out:

  • what inspired his lunatic fringe;
  • how he is preparing physically, mentally, emotionally;
  • the “whys” behind the hows and whats;
  • how he balances his training and racing with professional & family life

I found James to be surprisingly grounded; extremely gracious; and quite large at heart. But if I am being completely honest, I have serious doubts about the plausibility of him succeeding in his 50/50/50 quest. I have no doubt James can do 50 Ironman-distance triathlons in 50 states.  It’s the 50 days part that gets me. Because it leaves absolutely zero room for error. None. And if there is one thing I know about adventures of this ilk, error is an indispensable part if the equation. It’s not if something will go wrong. The question is when.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m a fan. James is one of the good guys. Someone easy to pull for. I want to see him succeed and you will too. So let’s get behind James and his extraordinary goal. Check out his website. Consider throwing him a donation on Indiegogo. Toss some love his way on Twitter and Instagram. Peruse his schedule and if/when he passes through your locale this summer, make a point to go out and log a few miles with him.

Together we can put some much needed wind in his sails. And more often than not it’s that little extra boost that marks the difference between achieving the impossible and giving up altogether.

I appreciate James sharing his story with me. I look forward to cheering him on as this adventure unfolds and I sincerely hope you do too. Enjoy the conversation.

Peace + Plants,


Listen & Subscribe on  iTunes | Soundcloud | Stitcher | TuneIn

Production, music & sound design by Tyler Piatt. Additional production by Chris Swan. Graphic art by Shawn Patterson.


Find James: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

James will be donating proceeds from his 50 Iron distances to the non-profit, which empowers children and families worldwide. Follow James’ across the U.S.A. here.

Background, Context & Reference:

Notable People Discussed in today’s podcast:

Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy:

  • RRP 133 : Interview with Desert Runners filmmaker Jennifer Steinman

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  • Doug Burghart says:

    Outstanding Interview and very moving.

  • Nicci Pretti Catlett says:

    He’s so down to earth & at the same time he has this “out of this world” goal.

  • Tommy F says:

    Service over ego.. James has struggled, gained perspective, honor’s the lessons with gratitude, is mindfully rooted in his family and is embarking upon a journey centered around service. I think he’s ready, and I hope he succeeds. Super cool that he’s bringing his youngsters on this journey with him. They’ll get to witness their dad being a real life superhero. And I’m sure he’s gonna need them out there, to keep himself motivated and pushing past the pain.

  • Julia Hanlon of Running On Om says:

    Hi Rich,

    As always, I was deeply inspired and moved by your conversation with the Iron Cowboy. What a humble, courageous, and honest human being and athlete James is! I am really excited for his 50/50/50 and hope to join him for part of his run when he is in MA.

    During the conversation, James cited his faith briefly and I would have been curious for you to have asked him some questions on his faith background and the role this has played/or not played in his path.

    Thank you for bringing incredible people to light through honest dialogue!

    Peace & Gratitude,
    Julia Hanlon of Running On Om

  • Aliza says:

    Very inspiring interview! Your podcasts like this one really make me feel like I can do anything I put my mind to and work hard at. I will be looking out for him when he comes to Boston!
    Thank you!

  • Jill Russell says:

    Wow….this guy is amazing! I was really inspired by this interview and love his #nogoaltoobig !! I’m wondering about his diet and how he plans to fuel his body on this epic undertaking….is he vegetarian?

  • Jan Vojtek says:

    Mind boggling what James is about to do! I’ve always been inspired by ultra, but this takes it to a brand new level!!! Go James!

  • sasha says:

    go James, great pod

  • dogulas says:

    He’s a mormon.

  • Jory Howell says:

    I went out and ran 11 miles with James and the rest of the entourage in Washington this past week! It was great! I befriended some fellow Podcast listeners and had a great time chatting with James. He is a great guy, very polite and humble. Everyone should go out and show support if he is in their area. His team is fantastic too! Notice I represented with the #PlantPower shirt! =)

  • Chelsea Christoph says:

    He’s on day 40!

  • Jason says:

    he did it! amazing!

  • Eva Marlow says:

    LOVED it and can’t wait for the follow up session!!!!! Love his “Jesus food” analogy!!!!

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