A year ago, Lawrence Turner said he could not swim from one end of Twin Lions Pool to the other without stopping for a breath.
On Aug. 26, Turner and two Fort Bragg-connected Soldiers — Joey Blankenship and Ira Gallagher completed the Ironman Louisville in Kentucky.
The triathlon entailed a swim of 2.4 miles, 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.
The men are members of the Fort Bragg Masters Swim Team, a group of fitness, triathlon and competitive swimmers with ties to Fort Bragg and surrounding communities.
“It felt pretty good to complete the Ironman,” said Gallagher. “I had a mixed sensation of pride and sadness.”
Gallagher said he was proud to complete an item on his endurance bucket list, but sad to have finished with a time of 10 hours, 17 minutes and 59 seconds, 110th overall of 2519 competitors.
But, Celia Wolff who coaches the Masters Swim Team said she is proud of the men.
“I am completely amazed, so proud of them for being able to take their swimming and their triathlon as a sport to a new level,” she said. “It says a lot for their determination and their training.”
Typical training consisted of nearly 20 hours a week in the pool, 35 miles a week running and averaging 170 miles a week on bikes.
“Within a year, I’ve lost 30 pounds,” said Turner.
“I may have lost 51 pounds,” Blankenship said, seemingly appreciative of his new physique. He added, “I was already sexy.”
“I probably lost about 12 pounds,” Gallagher said.
The consensus was the most challenging part of completing the triathlon was the run because temperatures hovered in the 90s.
The men seem thankful for the support of colleagues and Family in their quest to train for and complete the marathon.
“I had a wonderful coach in my wife, Naomi Gallagher, who is a certified USA Triathlon coach,” Gallagher said.
Blankenship, who is a chief warrant officer 3 with an aviation company, said it was his higher command who enabled him so much training time.
Support is also a sentiment that Turner, a retired Special Forces first sergeant and a civilian employee also shares.
Though it was the men’s first triathlon, they expect to compete in other triathlons in the future.
“I’m pretty sure that it’s become a way of life,” Turner said.