I’ve worked with athletes on every level and in just about any sport you can think of. I’ve been with them during “the big game” and watched their mental and physical preparation. Usually people fit into a category: the calm and collected, the music bumping hyper person, the motivator, and silent bouncy person in the corner. My experience working with the Iron Cowboy was totally unexpected, for the better.

Who is the Iron Cowboy?

Starting with a quick recap, the Iron Cowboy, James Lawrence, was in the process of doing 50 full IronMan distances in 50 days in 50 states all in the name of raising awareness about childhood obesity. My location, Madison, would be his 41st IronMan.

Your first thought might be, “Who is this crazy person and what is he trying to prove.”

Your second thought might be, “Yeah, yeah another person doing some sort of athletic event in the name of charity.”

I didn’t know what to expect. I was selected to be the person in charge of medical for the Madison location. I had been following all of his posts, trying to figure out if the guy was even going to make it this far. I dove into the content and started learning more about his journey and what it meant to him. His family, his wingmen, and the culture that surrounded him. By the second day of looking at things, I was enthralled with not only the athletic side of what he was doing, but also what he stood for.

My First Impression

The big day arrived. Number 41 for me began at 3:30 a.m. I showed up at the pool at 5 a.m. to start putting things together for the 7 a.m. planned start. At 5:30 a.m. the wingman rolled in and said James was up and ready to go. James didn’t want to make a big deal out of it and let the rest of his crew sleep.

Yes, at that moment I realized he cared more for other people than himself. This was a person who had just done 40 IronMan distances, and he was concerned about his exhausted crew members and family more than he was about himself.

The next thing you know, the wingman, and I are sitting in the locker room getting James ready for the day. All I can say is it was an amazing experience. As I started working on him, I could feel every little structure in his shoulders and neck. He had such low body fat that every strand of his muscles and tendons strummed past my fingers like guitar strings. Although he didn’t complain or say much, I could tell that his whole body was in severe pain.

The Man, the Legend

His mental focus was unlike anything I’ve seen before. Most athletes at this level have a standoffish vibe to them, but when I introduced myself to him, I found that he was an open, inviting person who immediately made people feel comfortable. Not once throughout the day did he seemed rushed, despite the tight schedule.

His face and eyes said it all. There was nothing fake about the way he would look at someone and half smile. I could tell he was the Iron Cowboy for the right reasons. He wasn’t selfish about anything, even when he should have been. He was still open to talking with the crowd.

When his kids came around to hug him, he immediately had twice the energy that he should have. On day 41, he should have been drained, but he didn’t hesitate to spend the extra energy giving his kids hugs and a ton of focused attention. It was an unexpected and unforgettable experience–one I can say I’m very proud to have witnessed.

Find out more about the Iron Cowboy! Click here.

The Iron Cowboy & the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation

As the charity partner for the Iron Cowboys 50-50-50 event, we are thrilled to support James’ aim to raise 1 million dollars to fight the obesity crisis in the U.S.

The funding that his event will generate will have a dual purpose–we will provide direct financial support to schools that wish to incorporate practical food education into their curriculum. These micro-grants will be used to support U.S. schools at a grassroots level to develop and improve their programs around food, nutrition, and growing. Click here to show your support.

The remaining funds would be used for research, to ensure that the interventions and materials we create will continue to have the biggest possible impact and drive the behavioural change that is needed to truly reverse the current obesity crisis.

Thank you so much for your support. Through aiding our research, food education, and hands-on training, your donation will help more children lead happier, healthier lives. (Want to get involved and help make a difference? Click here.)