I have wanted to stop during many events – we all do, but we find the strength and push through.

The man who helped create the Spartan Race talks about the triathlons that have put him to the test


The Triathlon Where I Thought I’d Call It A Day
Ironman Utah

The route: The route took competitors near Provo, Utah. It featured a 2.4 mile swim across Utah Lake, a 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run. [The St George Ironman has now been reduced to a half marathon.]

The reason: I was once doing an Ironman, it could have been number 20. I was obviously too cocky and had not properly trained. I found myself completely broken at the start of the run, I have wanted to stop during many events – we all do, but we find the strength and push through. However, this race was different, I was very sick, tired, had nothing to prove and was done. I actually was ready to quit. I walked over to the ambulance medics and sat down… I was looking for any excuse when out of the corner of my eye I saw a female amputee working her way past me. She was moving along and had the look of determination that I was missing. I was so inspired. I jumped up and found a new found reason to push on. We went through the next 23 miles side by side. It was a pure battle, but inspiring at the same time.

Ironman 70.3 St George Utah by Nils Nilsen

The Triathlon That Was The Most Memorable
Ironman Lanzarote

The route: A 3.8km swim, followed by a 20-metre run on the sand and another 3.8km swim; then a 182.2km ride around the island before a 42.2km run along the sea front.

The reason: I would say Ironman Lanzarote in the Canary Islands was epic. The volcanic Fire Mountains make it look like a Martian landscape, and the sea is so blue. Then again Austria was pretty close… I would say it was a toss-up! But I have to say that there is no better way to see a “place’ than by doing a race!

Diego Santamaria (5)
Ironman Lanzarote by Diego Santamaria

The Triathlon Where I Learnt The Most
Ironman 70.3 Eagle Man

The route: This triathlon in the heritage town of Cambridge in Maryland comprises a 1.2 mile swim in Choptank River, a 56-mile bike ride through the countryside, followed by a 13.1 mile run back through the town. If you’ve got the strength to look up you can see a bald eagle or two.

The reason: I think I learned the most at my first triathlon. I had trained for it, pushed through and got a decent time. I even went back to help some friends on the run and ended up fighting to keep a buddy from getting pulled from the course. As we moved forward cones were being pulled behind us and the course was being shut. My friend also got the job done and I learnt at that moment that whether you’re first or last doesn’t matter, what really matters is that you give it all that you have.

Kreutz_IRONMAN (2)
Ironman 70.3 Eagleman by Liz Kreutz


The Triathlon I’m Most Proud Of
Ironman Lake Placid

The route: Swim 2.4 miles in Mirror Lake, cycle 11 miles through the Adirondacks and then do a 26.2 miles run past the Olympic course.

The reason: I did this on the heels of running a couple of ultra runs that week and so I had no idea if I could complete it. I ended up drinking beers and eating hamburgers that the crowd handed me through the run to kill the pain and hunger. I had already run 235 miles that week so it was a hell of a challenge and reward.

at the 2012 Ironman Lake Placid Triathlon in Lake Placid, NY on July 22, 2012
Ironman Lake Placid Triathlon by Larry Rosa/EnduraPix

The Triathlon I Plan To Do Next
The reason: I want to do something BIG in China… maybe a 50-plus day challenge, but I am afraid to throw it out there just yet.



We ask De Sena some quick fire questions…

Joe and Charlie crop


My favourite Spartan race of all time… The one I did with my kids – Spartan Race Miami. When my son was aged five he ran a 10-mile Spartan Race and I was the proudest – and some say craziest – dad.

The obstacle I wish I’d never created… Thermopalye – a 30-foot tall wall that you need to climb and overcome. They say the world is not quite ready for it!

The obstacle that I would like to include and they won’t let me… I would love a zip line!

The most interesting person that I’ve met at a Spartan race… Richard Branson. We all watched him build one hell of a brand.

How to survive a Spartan race… Commit – it’s hard to do, but easy once you have; endure – you have a lot more than you think you do; repeat – life requires you push the boundaries.

The Spartan Race will be on Bintan Island on 19 November 2016. Click here to enter

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