Ironman Athlete Pursues Second World Record and Raises Funds for Charity

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Guinness Book of World record for most Iron Man races is about to be shattered by James Lawrence, and it's all in an effort to raise money to build dams in Kenya.

When I experience the effects of poor hydration, I always stop and consider that there are millions of people in the world today that suffer from want of clean, adequate water on a daily basis. It’s very sobering.

James Lawrence will be racing 30 Ironman distance triathlons, in pursuit of setting a new World Record for number of full-Ironman distance triathlons in a single year (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run). In 2010 James set the World Record for half-Ironman distance triathlons, completing 22 races in 30 weeks (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run). This year, James is attempting 30 full Ironman-distances races; the current World Record is held by Stefaan Engels, a Belgian man, who completed 20 races in 2008.

James launched his 2012 attempt in January, racing at HITS Naples (Florida), and taking first place overall at the event. The schedule to complete 30 races will take James to ten countries on five continents this year, with races in Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, South Africa, Switzerland, Germany and Austria. James will complete two races in his home country, Canada. He calls this effort “Tri and Give a Dam”, in reference to how the idea of setting World Records originally occurred to him as he was looking for a way to integrate his love for triathlon with his efforts to bring water to people in Kenya.

In 2009, James was hired at the Utah-based non-profit In Our Own Quiet Way. Currently, Quiet Way is focused on infrastructure planning for water resource management in Kenya; i.e. putting dams, boreholes and wells in the most strategic places for maximum impact and longevity of provision. Quiet Way has been in operation since 2007, and has built two dams, drilled five wells, built an orphan feeding center, funded a women’s co-op, fed 10,000 people during the drought, and put over 20 students through secondary education. Following experimentation with various aspects of development, Quiet Way has narrowed its focus to water; a focus which James can particularly relate to as an athlete. “Hydration is so important in my sport – just a little off one way or another and my body suffers terribly. When I experience the effects of poor hydration, I always stop and consider that there are millions of people in the world today that suffer from want of clean, adequate water on a daily basis. It’s very sobering.” James still volunteers with Quiet Way, mostly in raising awareness and funds through his athletic endeavors.
James, 35, is originally from Alberta, Canada, but moved to Utah twelve years ago. He has been married to Sunny Jo Hatfield Lawrence for eleven years, and they have five children together: Lucy (9), Lily (8), Daisy (5), Dolly (4), and Quinn (2). James says that preparing for this effort has taken a lot of training, planning and fundraising, and his greatest support are his wife and children. “My wife is the real champion here – as things have been tough along the way, she’s been a constant cheerleader and support. Without her I’d be lost,” he says. Sunny Jo, also a triathlete, has started a blog called Tri the Other Side where she shares the journey from her perspective. In a recent post she talks about James and his relationship with his children, “He plays with them, escorts school field trips, goes to reading time at the schools, and doesn’t hesitate to snuggle and rub their feet! You want to talk about a family man…he is the guy!”

James was a wrestler in High School and considered himself athletic when he participated in his first endurance event at the age of 28, struggling to complete a 4-mile run. Amused at how difficult James found it, his friend challenged him to a triathlon, encouraging him to take his athleticism to a new level. James says he “became hooked” and set his sights for the most challenging endurance event – the full Ironman distance. He completed his first full Ironman distance event in 2008. Currently, James works as a personal trainer at Gold’s Gym.

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact James at (801) 735-7059 or james(at)jameslawrence(dot)biz

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