Olof Dallner (35 years old) is an Empire Tri Club member who recently competed in the ultimate endurance event – the Quintuple Anvil Ultra Triathlon. The 12 mile swim, 560 mile bike and 131 mile run is the distance of 5 Ironmans! But Olof did more than just finish – he won the event, finishing in just under 4 days (a full day ahead of the 5-day cutoff!).
We chatted with Olof after his race to learn a little more about his background, what prompted him to sign up for such an event, and what his racing plans are for the future…
ETC: Olof, what is your athletic background?
OD: Mountaineer and alpine climber for almost 20 years, ultra endurance athlete, obstacle racer, triathlete.
ETC: Whats do you do for a living?
OD: PhD in Molecular Physiology, currently postdoctoral scientist at Rockefeller University in Genetics/Physiology, researching the genetics of the hormone Leptin and its role in obesity and metabolism.
ETC: Where are you from?
OD: I’m from Stockholm, Sweden but moved to NYC 4 years ago.
ETC: What / when was your first tri?
OD: My first triathlon was an olympic distance triathlon in Virginia last year, and then I raced the Timberman half Ironman distance 2 weeks later.
ETC: Is it true that you’ve never done a single ironman prior to this event?
OD: Yes. I have done only 3-4 triathlons before this, 2 half Ironmans.
ETC: What prompted you to sign up for a Quintuple ironman?
OD: The feeling that I might not be able to finish. I like to take myself outside my comfort zone and signing up for this made me quite uncomfortable.
ETC: While you’re relatively new to tri’s, we know that you have a background in ultra-endurance sports & obstacle races. How do you think that helped you in this race?
OD: That is the crucial part in this race, much more than the number of triathlons I’ve done. For example, being a good brick runner doesn’t matter as much in an event like this when you are going at a slower pace for very long. Knowing how to push yourself for extended periods, during nights, and for days while being sleep deprived is important.
ETC: What was the toughest part of the race for you?
OD: I think it was just before the race and going into the swim actually. Once I got through the swim I felt very confident about the race. For the last 24 hours of biking (the second night) and the entire run we had continuous rain. 62 hours of rain takes energy out of you, but I tend to do pretty good during miserable conditions.
ETC: Was there ever a point where you thought you might quit or didn’t think you could finish?
OD: Yes, that happens to everyone. Your brain tells you it’s time to stop. I’m very used to that though and just talk back to my own brain. It is not real, you can continue. You’re having this weird discussion with yourself. Once I got off the bike I had so much time to the cutoff that I felt very confident I would make it before the 5 day cutoff. My goal was to make it sub 4 days and I managed to just do that.
ETC: Its amazing to finish the race, let alone WIN the race. Were you “in it to win it”? Did you go in to the race with the goal or hopes of winning? Was there competition amongst the athletes?
OD: I didn’t start out with that thought. I was the only one in the field that had not done a multiple ironman before. I was focused on finishing. During the bike I felt like it turned into a race and we were definitely going for it. Once I got off the bike I was about 2 hours ahead and I knew I had a good chance of keeping the lead. During the run there was a couple of fierce moments when we were running 8-9 miles for 8-10 miles, trying to beat each other.
ETC: How many athletes participated / finished?
OD: Total of 9 athletes, 2 did not show, 3 finished within cut off, one finished outside of the cut off, and 3 did not finish.
ETC: Tell us a little about your support crew? Who was there? How did they help you through the race?
OD: I had my girlfriend Caitlin’s parents there for the first two days, then Caitlin came and she and her mom crewed till the finish. I also had other friends coming in during the race to help out. The different crews were helping each others athletes though, it was a great spirit during the race. I got a lot of help from others. But I can’t stress how important it was that I had Caitlin and her mom there. Crewing like they did is as hard as racing. It was cold and wet and they stayed up only to cater to my needs. I’m so very thankful to have had them there.
ETC: Did you sleep at all during the race?
OD: I slept about 2 hours the first night, 1,5 hours the second night, 2 hours the 3rd night, and 15 minutes the last night. I totaled about 6 hours of sleep in 4 days with some other power naps that I took.
ETC: Do you think you’ll sign up for another?
OD: Haha. Not right now, but I think I will do more ultra triathlons if I get a chance. It’s also about the great people you meet when you do these things. I’m also fairly sure I can do it quite a lot faster if I do it again.
ETC: What’s your next athletic challenge?
OD: I’m going to do New York marathon in November, not really for PR, just enjoying the event. Then I have Worlds Toughest Mudder in NJ in November. A 24 hour obstacle race.