James Lawrence: Mormon Athlete
James Lawrence, also known as the Iron Cowboy, is a triathlete and holds two records in the Guinness Book of World Records: 22 half Ironman triathlons 70.3 races in 2010 and 30 full Ironman 140.6 races in one year (2012). In 2015, he made news and set a world record by completing the 50 Ironman courses in 50 consecutive days in all 50 states. His goal was to call attention to childhood obesity, which has more than doubled in children in the last thirty years. Lawrence said by completing his goal, he would have a platform to raise $1 million to spread his message:
- The epidemic is big enough. I hold the world record for the most Ironmans in the world and nobody cared. So I needed to pick something big enough, and this is what I came up with.
- This generation is in trouble. We need to realize that movement is necessary, real food is necessary, and we need to focus more on prevention and less on treatment.
His oldest daughter, Lucy, then 12, ran the last three miles of every course. Lawrence partnered with the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, which addresses nutritional education among children. He asks that parents set an example for their children, who look up to them. “They respect you and they’re sponges.”
An Ironman requires an athlete to complete a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a full marathon—26.2 miles. In 2021, he completed 100 Ironman triathlons in 100 days, which he called "Conquer 100." His primary purpose was a personal experiment in human endurance and pain tolerance—the capabilities of the human body and mind. Others joined him either as participants, pacers, or supporters, such as an athletic trainer, nutritionist, and physiologist. His second was to promote the work of Operation Underground Railroad. Lawrence encountered physical difficulties such as shin splints, hip discomfort, and lip blisters.
Lawrence is a professional trainer, coach, and motivational speaker. He and his wife, Sunny, are the parents of five children and live in Lindon, Utah. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.