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Iron will and perseverance in the face of challenge

Adams biked 112 miles through the Maritime Alps during the 2014 Ironman France competition.

By Elizabeth Wood West; photos courtesy of Mark Adams

Mark Adams has always enjoyed swimming, biking, and running for recreation and fitness. However, after watching men and women compete at the 2012 Ironman Texas event, Adams’ idea of recreational fitness would change dramatically.

Adams said, “Watching the courage and determination of the men and women competing in Ironman Texas was the moment I committed to giving it a go.  The following year, I stood at the start line of the 2013 Ironman Texas, wondering whether I had lost my mind.  After swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, and running 26.2 miles, I capped off one of the most emotional and rewarding experiences of my life, and now I am hooked.”

Adams and his wife Kristin live in Castle Pines Village. Adams works as an engineering manager for Waste Connections, Inc. and the couple also own and operate Elements Therapeutic Massage, located in Castle Rock.

According to Adams, an Ironman competition begins with a 2.4-mile swim, often with all athletes starting the swim in a mass group, instead of staggered smaller groups. Adams compares the first 500 meters of the swim to a boxing match in a washing machine. A 112-mile bike race comes after the swim, followed by a 26.2-mile run. To qualify for an official time, athletes must complete all three components in less than 17 hours (or 16 hours for some Ironman events).

Adams described his training program by saying, “I am on the road roughly half the time so that makes my training program logistically challenging at times, and obviously work comes first.  Most Ironman athletes will train 12-20 hours per week and I am generally putting in time that’s in the lower end of that range,” he said.

Training recovery, nutrition, and massage therapy are also important and these aspects unfortunately tend to take a back seat when I am on the road. Left to my own devices, I think I would veer regularly into the dark side of food and drink intake. I love beer (I am British, after all), dark chocolate, chips (French fries), lots of other greasy foods, and red meat. Kristin saves me from such regular indulgences,” he said. “I am more disciplined a week prior to a long distance event. The ‘afterwards’ part is easy. Once I have properly hydrated, I give myself permission to eat anything and everything for several days after the event. During an Ironman, I will burn roughly 8,000 calories so I have a lot of catching up to do after the race,” he said.

This year’s Ironman France is Adams’ favorite competition to date. The swimming event was in the Mediterranean Ocean at Nice, France; the bike race was routed through 18 villages in the Maritime Alps; and the run was completed along the coastal Promenade d’Anglais in Nice.

Adams said, “This event was definitely memorable due the incredibly stunning, yet challenging course with roughly 6,000 feet of climbing in the Alps.  But the event was probably more memorable for me since I crashed at about mile 30 on the bike course.  Fortunately, the bike was not seriously damaged and I did not break any bones, so I continued with the remaining 80 miles of biking and a full marathon, completing the event in 11 hours and 24 minutes.”

Adams, who is 49, has done well in his short Ironman career; he won in his age group at the Castle Rock half-marathon and is currently in the gold category of Ironman’s all-world age group ranking, which includes the top one percent of competing world Ironmen. Adams’ future plans include Ironman Cozumel in November, another race in the United Kingdom, and Ironman Boulder in 2015.

In spite of a road crash during the biking event, Adams finished well in the 2014 Ironman France event.

Mark Adams lives in Castle Pines Village and competes in world-wide Ironman events.

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