Ironman Vineman: A Legacy Of Tradition And Now The Future Of Ironman Events
Over the last couple years I have heard more and more people talking about the Vineman race in Sonoma county and now since Ironman took it over and bought the rights to the race in 2016 I decided to be one of the first athletes to sign up. Ironically this would be my first full Ironman race on U.S. soil as the previous 6 Ironmans I competed in took part overseas and in Mexico. The Ironman circuit has offered so much opportunity over the last couple years as I have moved up in the ranks from a Bronze AWA medalist to this past year in 2015 a Silver AWA medalist earning a little more respect along the way. I am also the 2015 Clydesdale 220lb+ National Champion and still hold the fastest time in the Olympic Distance event in Grand Rapids Michigan. This would be the first major race under my new sponsor, Red Ace Organics as they outfitted me with a spectacular new race suit and more!
From Rolling Hills Magazine February Issue 2016
Athletes Of The Month
For John Nunn, rowing has been more than a sport; it’s a life-long legacy he’s been able to share with his son. John was introduced to the sport of rowing 55 years ago at Cornell University. There he was fortunate enough to be coached by Harrsion “Stork” Stanford, who was a teammate of Al Ulbrickson at the University Of Washington. The two both became rowing coaches: Al at the University of Washington, and Stork at Cornell.
‘Like Father, Like Son’ In South Bay Magazine Health Issue
A former Olympic medalist and coach inspires his only son to pick up the oar and continue a fitness tradition
Written by Stefan Slater | Photographed by Jeff Berting
Jack Nunn’s life revolves around fitness. The 35-year-old Manhattan Beach resident owns Roworx in Long Beach, a unique fitness facility that specializes in teaching indoor rowing classes. “We teach the importance of rowing and how it’s low-impact,” Jack says. “It’s something that almost anyone can do.”
Aside from his rowing business, Jack also is extremely active within competitive rowing circuits—in the past he rowed with the Long Beach Juniors as well as the U.S. Under 23 National Team. Recently he competed in the 50th anniversary of the Head of the Charles Regatta rowing event in Boston (he describes it as the Super Bowl of rowing here in the U.S.), and he was also invited to row in the Harvard alumni boat. Since he rowed competitively at Cal Berkley, this was quite an honor for the diehard rower.
And when he isn’t rowing, Jack competes in Iron Man events. So far he’s completed four full Iron Man competitions and one half Iron Man, with his fasted full Iron Man time standing at 11 hours, 6 minutes. “My motto is to fight to the finish and do the best you can,” says Jack about his mental state during competition.
When it comes to fitness and competition, Jack is deeply influenced by his father, John Nunn. The 72-year-old won an Olympic bronze medal for the double sculls rowing event at the 1968 Olympics, and Jack still often comes to his father for advice on competitive rowing.
“He would never add on the pressure,” says Jack. “He’s one of the humblest guys you’ll ever meet—he wouldn’t tell you he’s an Olympian unless you asked.”
The two Nunns have even competed together, winning the father-and-son double sculls event at the USRowing Masters National Championships a number of times. “In any sport there aren’t too many fathers and sons who’ve done that,” says John, who enjoys coaching rowing just as much as doing it.
“It’s brought us together,” says Jack. The two men share a close bond over rowing, as the sport has formed a vital part of both of their athletic careers and views on personal fitness—and it all goes back to the year that John Nunn became an Olympian.
John, who was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, mentions that his rowing career truly began when he attended Cornell University. “It was kind of a fluke,” says the Rolling Hills resident. “My dad played football at Cornell, and I had every intention of playing football.”
However when John tried to sign up for the football team, the coach said the team was already all picked, adding rather snidely that the team “hadn’t had much luck with Canadians.” (John’s father managed the Canadian operations of an American company, and John had spent some time living near Toronto, Canada.)
At 6’6” and 197 pounds, John was the perfect height and build for the rowing team. He mentioned that during freshman registration, members of the rowing team were looking for “big kids who didn’t look like they knew where they were going.” He was told to talk to the rowing coach, and John fell in love with the sport quickly.
“It sort of immediately clicked; it was a sport that I was naturally adapted to,” says John, noting that their team did well, and they won national championships and had hopes of competing in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. But John’s coach decided they weren’t good enough.
John continued to row while pursuing an MBA at the University of Michigan, and he eventually came to California for work in 1966. “This is better than the other frozen tundra places I’ve been,” he says.
With a single shell rowing boat on the top of his car, John drove from Michigan to Southern California. He was immediately attracted to the Long Beach Rowing Association’s Marine Stadium, which was built for the 1932 Olympics.
“I was always training on my own,” says John. He didn’t try for the 1966 Olympic team, but he trained for most of 1967 and even competed in that year’s Pan American Games. But by the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, John was ready.
He remembers that the rowing events were extremely challenging, due to Mexico City’s high elevation (7,000+ feet) and relatively thinner air as compared to Long Beach.
“At that altitude, there was 30% less oxygen. The distance events really suffered. There were about 30 guys who passed out, and they had medical boats pulling guys out of the water,” says John.
He and his rowing partner, Bill Maher, were able to overcome the environmental challenges, and they won the bronze for the double sculls event. “We didn’t really know what the hell to do,” says John after they finished, noting that his partner, who was suffering from bronchitis, passed out cold on the deck after the race.
Following the ’68 Olympics, John took time off to focus on work and family. By the time the ‘70s rolled along, work and familial responsibilities made training a bit more challenging. But John transitioned into coaching, and he traveled to the 1976 Olympic games at Montreal as a rowing coach.
John also did some coaching closer to home. Since he has five children, he was often involved in their athletic programs—one year he coached three teams at once. “Whatever they were in, I coached,” says John. “Basically the model we used [with our children] was, ‘What are you doing this fall?’”
John pushed his children to stay active, and his son, Jack, was no exception. He played on a variety of sports teams, but after trying his hand at soccer and baseball during high school, he decided that the more traditional sports weren’t for him. He wanted to try his hand at rowing.
“It was one of the most exciting moments for my dad,” says Jack, who started with the Long Beach Junior Crew at 16. The younger Nunn distinctly remembers that once he picked up rowing, both he and his father became even closer.
“He’s an Olympic coach,” says Jack. “It was awkward and funny when he came to practices, because my coach would often ask him to tell us advice.” Being that he’s still actively competitive, Jack still turns to advice from his father, and both he and many other members of the Long Beach Rowing Association look up to the Olympian for his accomplishments.
That need for competition—coupled with a drive to remain fit and succeed as an athlete—was passed down from father to son, and Jack often thinks of his father’s past successes and words of advice when he’s competing in rowing events or Iron Man competitions. For instance, Jack notes that since his father would often train and row alone, the elder Nunn would imagine that he was racing against his top competition.
“He’d be training on his own, and he would imagine that the Germans or the Russians were ahead of him. He’d race against ghosts,” says Jack. The South Bay resident often visualizes imaginary foes when he’s competing, and he also thinks of his father’s personal motto whenever his triathlons or rowing events become too taxing.
“His motto,” says Jack, “is what’s possible is what you think is possible.”
Last but not least Jack Nunn wanted to share one of his last rowing race experience’s at Cal Berkeley while winning his forth consecutive Pac-10 Conference Championship in 2001. Listen in on this intense race on you tube below and follow the Cal Bears to victory over the Washington Huskies.
In November 2011, I made the decision to sign up for my 3rd Full Ironman in Cozumel, Mexico on November, 25th 2012. For those who have never heard of the Ironman, it is a long-distance triathlon which includes a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a full marathon consisting of 26.2 miles of running, one section after the other without rest. This extreme endurance event has been held around the world since 1978. I knew that training for Cozumel, Mexico was going to be a really tough journey for the next year or so while managing 2 Roworx Facilities, training 20 hours a week on average, and doing all the work behind the scenes in order for my fitness center to flourish. Throughout the past year it has been a massive journey indeed. I wanted to let everyone know that I wanted to dedicate this Ironman to all of my Roworx Indoor Rowing Members, Family, and my Friends at the Relay Fitness Group (Evo Bike Company) who helped me train with them and for them. I also wanted to thank you all for your support and love of fitness throughout the past couple years. It brings happiness and peace to me knowing that everyone is having a great time here at Roworx in Long beach and all the classes that we have to offer. I always strive for the best in each and every workout we do at the Boathouse and Warehouse. Despite the fact that we are consolidating all of the Roworx Classes to the Boathouse location I want you all to know that I have the fight in me to keep going and keep working as hard as I possibly can in order for you all to achieve your personal fitness goals sooner!
Jack created Roworx in Long Beach after winning numerous medals in various events on the international rowing stage. Jack started rowing in 1996 for Long Beach Juniors and made the 1997 Junior National Team Selection Camp. He went on to star for four years at UC Berkeley, winning four Pacific-10 Championships and three IRA National Rowing Championships. Jack was a member of the first ever undefeated Pac-10 and IRA National Champion Freshman 8 in 1998 and repeated the feat by going unbeaten in 1999. Jack helped his varsity 8 place second at the Henley Royal Regatta in 1999 in the Ladies Plate Challenge Cup in London, England. Jack also played two seasons with the Cal Ice Hockey Team before graduating in 2001 with his Bachelor’s Degree in Business/Communications. He was a gold medalist in 2007 at the first ever Concept 2 Team Indoor Rowing challenge, held in Essen, Germany. In 2006, he took silver at the Masters Nationals Open Single Event. As a member of the US Rowing National Team from 2001-2004 he placed second at the 2003 Pan American Trials in double sculls and had an outstanding 2002 that saw him claim a gold medal in Senior 8 and a silver medal in the Elite Double at the US Nationals. He was also a silver medalist in 2001 in the Nations Cup (now the U23 World Championships) 8 in Ottenshiem, Austria. In 2008 and 2009 Jack competed in two international Ironman competitions in Nice, France and Florianopolis, Brazil. Jack is also the son of John Nunn, 1968 Olympics (Mexico City) Bronze Medalist in the double sculls event with partner Bill Maher. All of Jack Nunn’s athletic accomplishments would not have become a reality if it was not for the various methods of cross-training and perhaps more importantly the intense positive muscle endurance training on the bicycle while utilizing indoor cycling classes. Indoor cycling, rowing provided a safe and effective environment not only for your body and joints due to low impact but also from avoiding the dangerous outdoor cycling consequences of cars, pedestrians, and weather conditions.
Ever since Jack Nunn could remember he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps as an Olympian. Jack Nunn’s father, John Nunn won a bronze medal in rowing at the 1968 Olympic Games held in Mexico City. He was also the Head Coach for the Men’s Olympic Rowing Team for the United States in the 1976 Olympic Games held in Montreal. Jack Nunn began his athletic adventure while playing almost ever sport imaginable. Jack had a taste of what it was like to be on an Olympic Team while rowing for Cal Berkeley from 1998-2001 alongside former Olympic rowers from across the world that were recruited to UC Berkeley for rowing. At one point Jack was the only American born rower to be on the Varsity rowing team out of eight guys. He ended up winning 4 Pacific-10 Championships and 3 National Championships in 4 years on the rowing team. When Jack was invited and competed on the US National Team in rowing he had immediate success and won a silver medal at the World Championships his first year on the team in 2001. From 2001-2005 Jack won multiple US National races and competed all over the world including England, Austria, Germany, Japan, and Canada. Jack was an Olympic Hopeful for many years but after a few knee surgery’s the priority of making an Olympic Team and pressure became too much to handle. He decided to move on to his next adventure, The Ironman Competition! Jack decided to sign up and go abroad to do his first Ironman after only doing one Olympic distance triathlon. Something that is not traditionally done with triathlon athletes but Jack was up for the challenge. He decided to compete in the Nice, France Ironman which is considered to be one of the toughest courses out of all of the current 27 Ironman’s held across the world including Kona, Hawaii because of the huge mountains you have to climb during the bike ride. Jack said that along with training on the National Team and being an Olympic hopeful in rowing…. ‘completing an Ironman was a lifelong dream!’ Jack was in and come June 2008 he finished the adventure of the Ironman race and heard those amazing words with a thick french accent “Jack Nunn…You Are An Ironman!” It was the most amazing feeling he had ever felt in the last mile of that race. So many emotions poured out of Jack and it was the most incredible experience of his life. After the race Jack said “I don’t think I’ll ever do that again.” After Jack got home there was a couple of things his father told him which he felt good about. John first asked Jack if he was on steroids, which he thought was hilarious because he really didn’t think I could swim or handle the bike ride and that he needed them to get through the race. Jack was laughing as he completely frowned upon using drugs in any form. Later, John wrote Jack a note saying how proud he was of him and admitted that he too wanted to do an Ironman but he couldn’t fathom the distance and didn’t have enough time for him to train and accomplish that race. Coming from an Olympic Medalist that was very cool:) Almost exactly one year later Jack decided to race for charity and put even more meaning into his Ironman adventure. Jack competed in Ironman Florianopolis, Brazil on May 31st 2009 and raised $5000 for charity with money earned from his rowing members at his Roworx Facility in Long Beach, Ca in order to build schools for children in Brazil.
The indoor rowing classes on the Concept 2 rowing machine and the use of indoor cycling classes at Jack’s new Roworx facility consisted of nearly %90 of his total workouts leading up to both of his Ironman’s. Jack did only a few ‘brick’ (cycling/ running) workouts and almost no swimming practice. Due to the muscles used in rowing and the muscle endurance in the latissimus muscles from rowing Jack was never tired while swimming and pulled his way through the swim in just over an hour. Jack practiced his swimming in the protected waters around Naples Island in Long Beach which is ironically 2.5 miles (the same distance as the Ironman swim section of the race). Jack challenge in the swim was learning how to breath and the rhythm of swimming while trying to steer a straight course. Focus and persistence are totally involved at the the start of any Ironman due to the large volume of Ironman athletes that start at the same time. Rowing and cycling long distances has taught Jack how to harness that focus over long periods of time and overcome many challenges that the Ironman had to deliver. Over the years rowing and cycling has enabled Jack to work on his muscle endurance in order to handle the grueling challenge of completing 2 Ironman’s. Jack figured it was all about putting in the hours during the week of hard cardiovascular training. Combining the use of the H.I.I.T. (High Interval Intensity Training) workouts, Jack averaged 15 hours a week has allowed him to get into the best shape of his life. Rowing uses nearly every part of your body and if you can find the right routine and workouts on the rowing machine it will be one of the best training tools you can use for triathlon training.
Since rowing is not a very well-known motion and/or workout here are some things to think about when approaching the use of the rowing machine.
3 Most Common Mistakes When Using The Concept 2 Rowing Machine:
1) Feet should be tied in with the straps going almost across your toes, where your toes bend. Most people tie in way too high and that causes your knees to be high which then causes you not to be able to hinge forward over the knees at the front of the stroke. Have your feet tied in lower so that you will have an easier time to get over your knees and be able to breath easier at the frontof the stroke.
2) Damper setting on the side of the machine should always be turned to settings 4-6. Not 10! A massive mistake that is always noticed is that the machine setting ‘effort level’ is always on 10 because people want to feel the machine work you. However, with the rowing machine, you must work the machine. The better your technique gets, the more resistance you will get out of the machine. If you turn the setting to 10 (which we never really do while rowing on the machine during Olympic training) you are setting yourself up for a possible back injury due to more load or heavier gear your are setting. Find a setting somewhere in the middle from 4-6 and use the quickness of your leg drive during the stroke in order to drive thise Watts higher. Be patient and learn the technique before you pound away at the rowing machine without learning how to use it. If you know how to do a proper power clean while wieght lifting then you are already on the right path for learning the stroke in rowing. Remember… legs! Legs! Legs! Upper body pull in rowing accounts for only %20 of the total power is coming from the arms. Compare that with nearly %80 that comes from the legs/back swing.
3) Refrain from using your shoulders and squeezing your muscles in your back when you finish the rowing stroke. You must relax the shoulders and back and not squeeze the rhomboids like you would when lifting weights. Remember that rowing is mostly legs and the upper body is just an extension of the legs work. The arms are nothing compared to your legs strength during the rowing stroke. Use a mirror and drop your shoulders and let them relax and drop down as you approach the front of the stroke. As you push the legs down make sure you swing the back while keeping the shoulders low and use the momentum to finish the stroke not trying to pull with the upper body.
Reccomended Daily H.I.I.T. Rowing Workouts:
On the Concept 2 rowing machine with a PM3 or PM4 Monitor press ‘Menu Back’ then ‘Select Workout’ then ‘Custom List.’ Here is where you get a pre-programmed list of amazing workouts from Concept 2, the leader in rowing fitness and the only rowing machines that are approved by National and Olympic Rowing Teams worldwide.
Make sure to press ‘Change Units’ to Watts in order to see the power that you are creating into the machine. A good goal is to reach your own body weight in Watts on the Monitor. If you are hitting your body weight already then try to double your body weight and so on. To give you an idea of how fast and powerful Olympic Rowers are they can usually hold three times their body weight in Watts for over 6 minutes!!! Try to do this for the shorter distances. Make small goals and go from there:)
The 3 best rowing workouts for your daily routine are:
1) The ’30/30/30′ listed as :30 / :30 on the custom list on the monitor. Described as rowing :30seconds on then :30seconds off times 30 intervals. Row as hard as you can with the best technique you can at 28-32 stroke rate rating and then on the rest time work on breathing, ab crunches while tilting to the side of the machine at the back of the machine while still holding the handle, and grab water to hydrate from time to time. Get ready and repeat!
2) The ‘Pryamid Workout’ listed as ‘V 1:00 1:00 … 7’ is approx. a 32 minute workout. The machine is pre-programmed to begin with 1 min on and 1 min off of rowing going up to 4 min and then back down to one minute. Try to see how many meters you can row in each segment and remember that the higher your strokerate goes does not necessarily mean that you will go faster. Rowing is all about technique and the efficeint, powerful, quick use of the legs while pushing as hard as you can off the footboards.
3) The ‘140/20 Workout’ listed as ‘1:40 :20 … 9’ is a rowing workout that provides a maximum amount of time to row with minimal rest in order to produce the ultimate effect in High Interval Training and give your heartrate and endurance an amazing challenge. This workout is 20 minutes and has 9 intervals with a 2:00 minute rest after 5 intervals. Try to row a consistant High-Watt output for the entire workout. A good goal could be to hold an average Watt output of double your bodyweight.
Reccomended Indoor Cycling Workouts:
1) Take a Indoor Cycling Class at your local fitness center or at Roworx with the NEW EVO Fitness Bike and go to the beats of the music while pedaling. Make sure you have the proper cycling shoes with SPD clips as they are standard on almost every indoor cycling bike. Classes generally range from 45min to an hour long so make sure to keep your pace throughout class and keep with it.
2) Use the songs as your intervals! ‘1 song on a couple seconds off’ Ride to the beats of the music and get into the grove while taking a couple seconds off in between songs.
Jack was also inspired by this Three-time Olympic rower, Miroslav Vrastil of the Czech Republic that has taken his love of competing to a new level. Vrastil, 58, plans to break a world record by completing 22 Ironman triathlons in one year and the father of five has already begun. Vrastil started rowing when he was 12 years old in Olomouc, Czechoslovakia. For 18 years he competed in rowing while representing his country up to the age of 35. After competing at three Olympic Games (1972, 1976 and 1980), Vrastil was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour in his leg.“I was not sure if the doctor was telling me or somebody else,” says Vrastil. “I could not believe it and my hands started shaking. I was only 30. Their final diagnosis was a necessary amputation of my right leg. I made my decision of not having my leg amputated even if that meant living for three months only or less.”Vrastil received no cancer treatment, opting just for surgery to remove the tumour. He estimates he stepped back from training for just six months.” Then triathlon entered Vrastil’s life. After more than a 20-year period of doing very little physically, Vrastil was persuaded to try triathlon. His first race, a duathlon, is memorable in his finish.”The result was horrible for me, in fact I was nearly the last out of 130 competitors of all age groups. It was there (in 1988) that I decided to change it and go for it with all that it takes,” says Vrastil. ”My rowing experience and sports experience in general have helped me in life. To strive, to compete, and not to give up, and that reflects in triathlons too,” says Vastil. Then along came the idea to beat the world record of doing 20 Ironman races in a year. Vrastil has set a target of 22 races and his list includes races around the globe. An Ironman consists of a 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and a 42.2km run and to reach the target of 22 Vrastil will be doing two, sometimes three, in a month.
Here is Hywel Davies at a Q&A Triathlon Show 2012. He has finished the Ironman many times and is a 4-time sub 9 Hour Ironman Triathlete. Hywel explains the importance of the Concept 2 rowing machine on his cross-training regiment for triathletes and other ultra-high endurance sports!
In 2009 on the way to Florianopolis, Brazil my flight was cancelled because of a broken winshield on the runway at LAX 3 days before my Ironman race was set to go. I barely made it to Brazil on time in order to register for my race. The flight to Florianopolis, Brazil was about 20 hours on 3 connecting flights. The weather in Brazil was about the same as California. Right when I arrived to Florianopolis I had just enough time to make it to the pasta dinner at the Ironman tent and they provided us with some live entertainment (if you want to call it that) more like vegas go go show-girl dancers on steroids. Wow! These girls are out of this world and they make the Hawaiian ‘Hula’ seem boring! Since I came alone to do the Ironman I found myself talking to Jans Gregg, a 5 foot tall Norwegian guy who happened to be next to me off the plane and then at hotel check in. He was an amazing athlete from Norway and actually knew two of my former rowing teammates from UC Berkeley, Nito Simonson and Olaf Tulaf (2 Former Norwegian Olympic Rowers). Jans was a really humble guy considering he had done 5 ironmans in the last 3 years and his last Ironman time was 9hrs 45min. I felt smaller than he was after he told me that. He ran his marathon in 3hrs 20min in his last Ironman. However I beat his swim time by 2 minutes in Nice, France :). So funny because I really don’t swim! My father, John Nunn, will tell you that I cant swim either after I was cut from a junior high water polo team when I was a teenager…and there were NO CUTS! I stayed at the International Juerre Hotel right on the beach and it was amazing!
I was very impressed with Ken Glah’s Endurance Sports Travel organization. Way better than planning an Ironman trip on our own like I did in Nice, France in 2008.
I had a great introduction by the City of Florianopolis and the 2009 Brazil Ironman Committee on doing a job well done for having raised so much money ($4,000 total) for various children’s schools in Brazil. I spent the whole day Saturday (before the race) organizing my race gear, catching up on sleep, putting my bike together, and eating lots of pasta (carbo- loading). I was pacing around all day trying to see if I remembered everything and I did. I was ready to go! 🙂
*Nutrition and Hydration play a HUGE role in Ironman distance training and racing. I asked many former Ironman athletes about getting the best advice possible in order to finish this race in the best time possible. Months before the Ironman I started Juice Plus+ and it made a massive impact on the way I thought about nutrition. I changed my diet and started eating more fruits, veggies, and berries.
The Nutritional Shakes I had once a day, every day, made me feel like I had more energy than ever to get through the grueling daily workouts.
I hope all of you are enjoying all your success in accomplishing your goals for 2011. As I look back to the past 3 to 5 years I can’t help but think about a very different journey I had in my completion 2 full Ironman’s. Thought you all might want an explanation of why I have done two Ironman’s and making a big deal about it. Yes, I do have ‘screw loose’ in my head. However, there explains a deeper meaning. Not to get a tattoo saying I did the Ironman but instead for inner strength and the love of fitness and challenge! I wrote thisblog to tell you my story and inspire!
The Ironman is a competition that is held every year at multiple locations around the world and consists of a 2.4 mile swim followed by a 112 mile bike ride and ends with a full 26.2 mile marathon!
On the Inside Looking Out: How to Use Indoor Cycling to Become a Better Outdoor Cyclist
Published in City Sports Washington and City Sports Florida, March, 2000, then later in City Sports and Competitor California.
I can totally relate to this article from my own training when I completed my first Ironman in Nice, France in 2008 and my second Ironman in Florianopolis, Brazil in 2009. Approximately 90% of my cycling training was on the Spinning bike! Also, while training at Cal Berkeley on the Men’s Varsity Crew Team a group of us took up cycling as a perfect way to cross-train for rowing.
Jake Wetzel, my former teammate at Berkeley, was recruited to row from the Canadian National Cycling Team and several years later ended up winning several Olympic Medals in rowing, Silver Medal in 2004 Athens, and a Gold Medal in 2008 Beijing. He explained to all of us that throughout his childhood and training as a cyclist, it was a direct cross-over to rowing. This was a testament that cycling does in fact contribute to the leg power that you use when rowing. Cycling along with Rowing is yet another low-impact sport that you can do your whole life. -Jack Nunn
| Three-time Olympic rower, Miroslav Vrastil of the Czech Republic has taken his love of competing to a new level. Vrastil, 58, plans to break a world record by completing 22 Ironman triathlons in one year and the father of five has already begun. Vrastil started rowing when he was 12 years old in Olomouc, Czechoslovakia. For 18 years he competed in rowing while representing his country up to the age of 35. After competing at three Olympic Games (1972, 1976 and 1980), Vrastil was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour in his leg.“I was not sure if the doctor was telling me or somebody else,” says Vrastil. “I could not believe it and my hands started shaking. I was only 30. Their final diagnosis was a necessary amputation of my right leg. I made my decision of not having my leg amputated even if that meant living for three months only or less.”Vrastil received no cancer treatment, opting just for surgery to remove the tumour. He estimates he stepped back from training for just six months.” I was not doing sport actively during this six-month period – my knee was out of function and I was trying hard to make it move with the help of my father no matter how painful it was. It went very slowly but it went. The tumour was still growing but it stopped after three months from the operation. I started to train again slowly in a rowing swimming pool with the help of my colleague Pavel Konvicka in the spring of 1982.” That year Vrastil rowed at the world championships finishing fourth in the men’s four. After retiring from competitive rowing, Vrastil remained involved in the sport as a professional coach. He continued this for five years but with the political change and his country becoming the Czech Republic, Vrastil stopped coaching to become a school teacher. Even when two of his children started to row, Vrastil did not come back to the sport. Then triathlon entered Vrastil’s life. After a 10-year period of doing very little physically, Vrastil was persuaded to try triathlon. His first race, a duathlon, is memorable in his finish.”The result was horrible for me, in fact I was nearly the last out of 130 competitors of all age groups. It was there (in 1988) that I decided to change it and go for it with all that it takes,” says Vrastil.”My rowing experience and sports experience in general have helped me in life. To strive, to compete, and not to give up, and that reflects in triathlons too,”says Vastil.Then along came the idea to beat the world record of doing 20 Ironman races in a year. Vrastil has set a target of 22 races and his list includes races around the globe. An Ironman consists of a 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and a 42.2km run and to reach the target of 22 Vrastil will be doing two, sometimes three, in a month.