On February 28th, Empire Triathlon Club Member and Ultra athlete, Bobby Leong competed in the Florida Double Anvil Triathlon – a 4.8 mile swim, 224 mile bike and 52.4 mile run. Twice the distance of an Ironman! The best part? He trained over 2,000 miles using Charity Miles, raising money & awareness for the Michael J. Fox Foundation. We had the opportunity to chat with him about his experience and what racing for 33:13:42 meant to him!
ETC: What is your athletic background?
I’ve been involved in triathlon since 1995 and been associated with Empire Triathlon Club since it’s inception in 2011.
ETC: What do you do for a living?
I am a document processing manager at Allen & Overy, LLP – a law firm in midtown Manhattan.
ETC: What / when was your first tri?
My first triathlon was the Montauk Lighthouse Sprint Triathlon in July 1995. It was a total disaster. I didn’t even know how to swim so I bought a wetsuit because I didn’t want to drown. Despite finishing DFL in the swim, I caught up to others on the bike and run. I loved the experience so much, I decided to stick with it. It did, however point to the importance of training with other triathletes in a friendly, supportive club atmosphere. I’m sure if I had, my first experience would have been better… But hey, you never forget your first time 😉
ETC: What prompted you to sign up for the Florida Double Anvil (2x the distance of an Ironman)?
I had entered the Feb 2011 Sebring 12/24 hour bike race and finished 202 miles in about 14.5 hours. After the race I did a little job back to the car and was amazed at how fresh my legs felt. My friend Carl Morrishow then mentioned that there were ultra triathlon races that were 2, 3, 5, 10 and 20x the distance of an Ironman.
I decided to research these races and I came across http://usaultratri.com found the Florida Double Anvil 281.2 Triathlon held in late February.
I participated in a series of long events/races to see if this was really feasible. First, The Little Red Lighthouse 10k swim in Sep 2011, then an 365 mile non-stop East-West NY State Ultracycling Marathon record attempt that same month and finally the NYRR Knickerbocker 60k run….only then did I sign up for my first Double Anvil attempt in May 2012.
ETC: How did you train for this race?
Well I learned a lot from my DNFs from the 2012 and 2013 attempts at this race. The importance taking care of chafing early; finding, training with and sticking to a nutrition plan; overnight rides and bricks; never neglecting zone 3-4 work; and of course always including many LSD (long slow distance) 5,000-6000m swims, 8-11 hour rides, 3-6 hour runs.
ETC: What was the toughest part of the race for you?
I’d have to say on the bike after the sun goes down. The bike course is a 6.88 mile loop and many times you feel like your all alone with me, myself and I. You don’t see a soul out there It gets cold (and it got down to 41 degrees these last two races), boredom sets in, and voices in your head invite you to the Dark Side.
ETC: Was there ever a point where you thought you might quit or didn’t think you could finish?
This year? Nope. The Spartan women used to say to their men, “Ḕ tā̀n ḕ epì tâs”. Literal translation? “Either [with] it [your shield], or on it”: Meaning “either you will win the battle, or you come home dead carried on it”
ETC: What were your goals going into the race? What did this race mean to you or signify?
My objective going into this race was to complete the 281.2 triathlon. After my knee injury two weeks before the race, I had to modify that to completing the 4.8 mile swim, 224 mile bike and at least 26.2 of the 54.2 miles of the run in 36 hours. I knew I had to walk the entire run course, so unless I was off the bike by 1-2am (a stretch for me), I’d have to settle for an “Anvil+” finisher status.
The accomplish any large goal like this, it is important to give it meaning. It is really what sustains you through when fatigue and adversity gets in your head. I found that meaning by applying my training and event mileage to raise money for The Michael J. Fox Foundation through Charity Miles in honor of his two closest friends’ parents who have Parkinson’s disease. And with the support of New York City’s Empire Triathlon Club, I’ve been able to cycle, run and walk over 2,000 Charity Miles during his training leading up to this event!
It was with great humility and purpose that I dedicated this effort to my extended families, the Walsh and Hill clans, and their hopes and those of many others, that one day we’ll find a cure to Parkinson’s. It was a small token of my support for them.
ETC: How many athletes participated / finished?
24 males and 5 females started this race. 17 of them completed the entire 281.2 miles, 5 (including yours truly) finished more than 255 miles, earning an Anvil+ designation, and 7 were DNFs. http://usaultratri.com/Results/Rus010.htm
ETC: Tell us a little about your support crew? Who was there? How did they help you through the race?
A good support crew can make or break a race/event. My wife Susan, our good friends Erica Aldin and Kathy Kounnas (a Tampa area resident) were on my support crew. They made sure that stuck to my nutrition plan, prepared all drinks, had all equipment and supplies at the ready. Most importantly they were my source of encouragement and the occasional swift kick up my backside!
ETC: Racing for 33:13:42, did you sleep at all during the race?
I did! I had one hour of sleep and did it right in T2, therefore having the ignominious honor of owning the longest T2 time, 1:18:40, during the race 🙂
ETC: Do you think you’ll sign up for another?
As a solo? Probably not for a few years. As a part of a team? Sure! I think Empire Tri Club should field an all male and all female team or 1 co-ed team. Who’s in?!!!!
ETC: What’s your next athletic challenge?
Pine Creek Challenge 100 mile ultra run in the beginning of September. Anyone want to join me?