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  • Writer's pictureJosh De Jong

Rising Above: The 6 for 60 Challenge

A Legacy of Resilience

Mike's story is deeply woven with the influence of his father, a figure of strength and endurance. A former all-American swimmer and an industrious entrepreneur, he instilled in Mike the values of tenacity, hard work, and the unwavering spirit to never surrender. Mike's journey into triathlon was, in many ways, an embodiment of these principles.

Born pigeon-toed, Mike faced adversity in his formative years. Bullied and grappling with physical challenges, he found solace in running, breaking free from the confines of his condition. His father's support and encouragement played a vital role in this transformation, showcasing the power of family support.

A Journey Carved in Memories

Triathlon became more than just a sporting challenge for Mike; it became a bridge to the past, connecting him to the memory of his late father. The pride in his father's eyes as he completed the 1985 Muncie Endurathon became a source of perpetual motivation. In honoring his father's memory, he found a sense of purpose and determination.

6 for 60: A Bold Aspiration

Mike’s father passed away in 1987 at the young age of 60. As Mike approached his 60th birthday, he felt the urgency to honor his father's memory in a grander way. The idea of completing 6 70.3 races, aptly named "6 for 60," began to take shape. It was not only a physical challenge but a mental and emotional assertion, breaking free from the constraints of age and defying family health patterns.

The Crucible of Preparation

Mike's preparation was a careful concoction of training, nutrition, and mental resilience. Each aspect was meticulously crafted to endure the grueling journey that lay ahead.

Training: The Foundation of Triumph

Understanding the significance of strength in an aging body, Mike focused on extensive base building and strength training. Running, his weaker domain, demanded extra attention.

Joe Friel's book, "Fast over 50," served as a guiding light, helping Mike structure a strategic training plan. Days of rest were interspersed strategically, adapting to the demands of his aging body. A training stint in St. Pete affirmed his progress, instilling confidence for the challenges ahead.

Nutrition: Fueling the Fire Within

Mike recognized nutrition as the fourth discipline in triathlons. His diet underwent a radical transformation—cleaner, protein-rich, and devoid of processed foods. His kitchen turned into a hub of transformation, where fresh, high quality foods fueled his body and enhanced his performance.

Mind over Mileage: Conquering Fears

The mental aspect of the journey was equally arduous. Wrestling with fears and uncertainties, Mike shifted his perspective from 'what if' to 'I believe.' This mental shift empowered him to conquer challenges and forge ahead, even on the most demanding terrains.

Ohio 70.3: Triumph Amidst Trials

Amongst the 6 for 60 races, Ohio 70.3 stood as a pinnacle of achievement. A flat, fast course set the stage for a season PR, and with his son Thomas by his side, Mike embraced the challenge. The word 'Believe' etched on his arm became a mantra, propelling him to cross the finish line and shatter his lifetime record.

Impact and Looking Forward

The 6 for 60 journey left an indelible mark on Mike's life. It jump-started his belief in growth, infused optimism about the future, and strengthened him mentally. The experience solidified the resolve to share these values with his children and future generations. In the end, Mike went on to complete seven 70.3’s, finishing IRONMAN Muncie as the cherry on the top.

A Lesson for Every Aspiring Triathlete

Mike's remarkable journey serves as a beacon of hope for all budding triathletes. It teaches us that with the right motivation, dedication, and a well-structured plan, we can achieve even the loftiest goals. It reaffirms the notion that age is no barrier to success, and every finish line is an opportunity to celebrate resilience, discipline, and the relentless pursuit of excellence.

Accomplishments: 6 age group podiums with one First Place Age Group finish

Lifetime personal best: 5 hours 11 minutes

IM Chattanooga 70.3

Grand Rapids 70.3

IM Pennsylvania 70.3

IM Ohio 70.3

Grand Rapids MiTi 70.3

IM Michigan 70.3

IM Muncie 70.3

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