James Lawrence, also known as The Iron Cowboy is taking on the current challenge of tackling 50 Ironman distances in 50 states in 50 days. While this feat to many is insurmountable, the cause he’s supporting seems even greater. As James says “we are killing off a generation”, the killer he’s referring to obesity. Childhood obesity is his specific target in raising awareness and funding through this incredible endeavor.
The Iron Cowboy has partnered with the Jamie Oliver Foundation in setting a goal of raising $1 Million. These funds will go towards research as well as creating financial support for schools throughout the country who wish to incorporate food education programs. You can donate here to help support.
“Jamie Oliver’s wish is to create a strong sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”
I first saw James come out of the RV after spending some time with his wife and 5 kids, whom have all joined him on this incredible adventure. He said one of the questions he’s asked most often is how he enjoys seeing the country and visiting all 50 states? His answer is “ask my wife and kids they’ve seen all of it.” Despite the challenge of completing these grueling distances day in and day out, this truly is a family affair. With his children joining him for runs and portions of the bike rides it’s easy to see why this cause is so dear to him.
The day being #44 of 50 Lincoln, NE is on the homestretch back to Utah and as James says “we’re in the single digits now.” It was really moving to see not only people from the Lincoln and Omaha communities turn out in a big way to support him, but also many from surrounding states. A couple of guys from St. Louis ventured up to support him on their 2nd leg of this adventure joining James on the bike and run portions on Sunday before driving back in time for work on Monday. One Wichita native road-tripped up for the afternoon and completed the entire marathon before heading back home. So perhaps this answers another question, why so big and so hard? Because it inspires people. It inspired me personally to register to run a 5k and donate to the cause.
It’s not just a cause though for James and this is an excellent example to set, it is a passion. Obesity is a serious epidemic that is fueled by the convenience of unhealthy foods being the norm and advertised heavily. Paired with the lack of education around healthy eating and lifestyle patterns has led to this issue.
- Almost one-quarter of two to five year olds and one-third of school children are overweight or obese in the US.
- Children today are the first generation predicted to live shorter lives than their parents, due to poor diet and inactivity.
- Obesity rates have more than doubled since the 1970s.
- More than two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese.
Courtesy of Jamie Oliver Food Foundation
While most of those in attendance to cheer on and run with the Iron Cowboy are active and hold a certain level of fitness, many are just beginning their journey. Almost a year ago to the date I completed my first sprint triathlon and started to make some serious lifestyle and diet changes after struggling with my weight. It was an honor an to shake his and thank him for his inspiration and passion.
Before starting his 44th marathon in as many days James noted that this was the largest pre-5k crowd yet! This can be attributed to the great support of Red Dirt Running Co. in planning the run route and creating an awesome atmosphere for James. His enthusiasm at this point is absolutely astounding!
After taking pictures and meeting everyone he started off with his large Lincoln entourage. It was amazing to witness his strength and determination while also engaging with those supporting him. Needless to say, it was a hot and humid summer afternoon, but there’s few places that I would have rather been. I was able to finish 13.5 with James before calling it a night. It was quite an experience that I hope will inspire many! Lincoln, NE #44 Yeehaw!