Leap Day Sports - The Triathlife of Jesse Thomas

IM Wales – First Ironman and Holy Crap Ironman Champion

That, my crazy ass fans, is what it’s all about.

As you’d probably expect from me, I’m feeling a little emotional starting to write this blog. But I’ve heard from at least one of the many dozens of you that you’re eagerly anticipating reading it, so I’ll put a paper towel over my hands to catch the tears and carry on.

When I say “that’s what it all about,” I don’t mean it’s all about winning an Ironman. Don’t get me wrong, it is crazy ass awesome and I am beyond stoked that I won my first freaking Ironman! But “what it’s all about” is the journey, detours, and unanticipated route that led here. Seeing it through. The roller coaster of sport.

Two weeks ago I was in a pretty low place. I had sacrificed a lot at a shot to produce a career performance at 70.3 World Championships. I did all the tough, but obvious stuff like trained my ass off, ate well, spent the time and money to come over to Europe, etc. All those sacrifices are expected. But there were other significant costs as well. Strain on my family life, Picky Bars, and my income opportunities by racing less (and being less fit) to save my best form for August 30th.

It was a lot of eggs to put in one basket. And it was massively disappointing when it all went south. Last week, alone in Tenby, I finally updated my Schedule & Results page and looked at 2015 and just felt bummed. My whole season, all the sacrifice was focused on that one result at the end of the calendar. And I had nothing to show for it. It was a pretty low moment.

But now, just 6 days later, I’m on cloud nine. I had the most amazing experience, and many unforgettable moments on Sunday. In less than a week, my whole perspective has changed. I’ll look back at that season calendar and clearly be super proud and psyched about what I accomplished. It isn’t what I imagined, or planned, or expected, but it’s beautiful and brilliant in it’s own way. And I’ll certainly take it.

And so that’s what sport, and for me, what Sunday, “is all about.” It’s that it takes you on a journey. You have a plan, a direction, a route, but ultimately you can only control a few things. And sometimes, $hit happens, and you won’t go where you wanted to. But if you work hard, keep your head up, and mind open to possibilities in spite of fear and doubt, you may end up in a place you never expected. And it may be more beautiful and rewarding than where you wanted to go.

And what’s awesome about sport is that it delivers these lessons that extend to more important parts of life – family, friendships, business. The “results” of those experiences are part what you put in, and part what happens out of your control. And days like Sunday serve as reminders that help us keep at it when things take a turn for the worse, because there might just be something more amazing around the next corner.

OK, Here’s What Happened In The Race:
For those of you who have no idea what the hell I’m talking about. I just won an Ironman! My first Ironman ever! My first run over 20 miles! It was crazy pants! I’m stoked! Booyah!

Swim: The Hilly Water of Tenby North Beach (strava file)

Seriously? I swam at that beach 8 times before Sunday, and every day it was gorgeous and flat. Then on Sunday it was like that scene from The Perfect Storm where George Clooney is trying to get his boat over the wave before it capsizes him. The waves were huge! I tried to stay relaxed and kept promising myself that I was actually making forward progress because at some points it was hard to tell. Eventually I came around for the first lap exit and checked my watch – 27 minutes – and thought I might be swimming myself out of it. The second loop was more of the same. I got tired, it was crazy. It felt like the longest swim I’ve ever done in a race because it was.

I felt a lot like that boat during the swim.

I felt a lot like that boat during the swim.

I exited having no idea where I was, and thinking I’d swam myself right out of the race. I ran up the crazy stairs and through the first of many amazing crowds cheering us on and just about tripped when I heard I was in 3rd place and just 2 minutes behind the leader – swim course record holder Harry Wiltshire. The ROKA guys must have put something special in my new wetsuit because that was probably the swim of my life.

Bike – Risk or Not? (PowerTap/Strava File)

I didn’t feel great to start the bike, but I was in a better spot than I anticipated, so I settled into a pace that I thought was sustainable. I passed second place pretty quickly and got within eyesight of Harry. Then at about 20 miles, Markus Thomschke pulled up behind me, who I knew was strong from Worlds, where he rode about the same split I would have have ridden without the penalty, and finished 12th overall.

About 10 miles later, just after I caught Harry in the lead, Markus went by like he’d been ejected out of a cannon. At that point it was decision time. I was already doubting my early pace for the race, and now I had to throw down to stay with the leader. Do I try to go with him and risk blowing up, or stay smooth and steady? Most of the advice I’d received was clearly keeping it steady and conservatively pacing early as my underprepared legs hadn’t ridden more than 85 miles this year. But after a few minutes of hesitation and back and forth brain fighting, I I decided I’d go with him. I knew that whether it was this race or another Ironman down the road, I’d have to eventually go outside of my plan to stay in it, so why not just practice doing that in my first one. You have to be willing to take a risk and change your plan to see what happens.

So for the next 40 miles I rode really hard, trying to stay with Markus through the many hills, crazy tight roads and descents, and amazing towns of spectators. I knew I was burning matches and taking a risk, but I tried to just let the miles go by without projecting outcomes. I remember looking at my watch, and seeing 4h 30 minutes of total race time and thinking, good lord, I’m only half way done. WTF am I doing?

Trying my best to be in a different place for a while. But I did see that guys setup and thought it was pretty awesome.

Trying my best to be in a different place for a while. But I did see that guys setup and thought it was pretty awesome. Photo cred Getty Images.

The Low Point

At mile 75 or so, Markus dropped a bottle, and he stopped at the next aid station to grab one. So I went to the lead and watched as my effort stayed the same and pace decreased every few miles. Uh oh. This is the wall. I’m hitting it. It’s large and hard and doesn’t feel very good and makes me sad. About 10 miles later, Markus went by me and I had absolutely nothing.

The next 20 miles was definitely the lowest point of the day. I seriously doubted my decision to race, and then cursed myself for riding too hard too early. I tried to balance it with thoughts of my family, and trying not to project. As coach Matt told me – just deliver yourself to the run and see what happens. So that’s what I did, just got to the end of that long ass bike ride.

Run – Damnit, Relax! (Strava File)

Markus put three minutes on me in the last 20 miles, and for the first minute or two of the run, I felt pretty wrecked. But after I rounded the corner in Tenby, I got a burst of energy that only a Dad can understand – a high five from the little guy. Jude, Lauren, and Joyce (Lauren’s mom) were standing there on the corner, and I could see Jude on Lauren’s shoulders with his hands up yelling “Go Daddy!” There’s nothing more motivating than that. And honestly, it recentered me, reenergized me, and I started to find my stride.

I hit the first mile first uphill mile in 6:25 (for reference sake, last year’s winner averaged 7 minutes/mile). My second uphill mile was 6:30. Don’t go too fast. I told myself. Take it easy. Everyone runs too hard the first 10k. Or at least, that’s what I was told. I tried to relax and pull myself back watching my mile splits – 6:20 relax, 6:06 relax, 6:13 relax, 6:24 relax, 6:10 DAMNIT, RELAX. It was like my mind was saying slow down and my body wasn’t listening. Usually it’s the other way around!

Relax! - photo cred Huw Fairclough

Relax! – photo cred Huw Fairclough

A Long Training Day

By 8 miles I was 20 seconds behind Markus. At 9 miles I took the lead and started to feel some of the work, but it still felt sustainable. I saw Lauren at 12 miles with a 90 second lead and she said that Matt had said to just imagine it as a long training day, mentally and physically, focus on nutrition and hydration. 15 minutes, calories and water, 15 minutes, electrolyte and water. Miles ticking by. I went 100% internal, and tried not to think about the race, the crowd, the competitors, or anything, just a long rhythm run.

I stayed successfully spaced out until I saw the “18.00” mile split on my watch and realized this was two miles longer than I’ve ever run in my triathlon career. Right about then I started to feel the weight of the day and possibilities. I started tightening up a bit, getting a little crampy, and worrying more and more about the solid runner, Andrej Vistica coming up behind me.

Redemption and Crying

I ran up the last long hill from mile 20 to 22 the slowest of the race, making sure I wouldn’t cramp. When I hit the turnaround, Andre had gained a minute on me, and was less than 5 minutes back. But at the top of the last major climb, I slowly started to open up my stride. And as I did, it was like my confidence grew each step. I started to believe I would make it, that I could finish, and maybe, that I could win. And there was a part of me that felt like I deserved it, and that this race was the true expression of my fitness that I didn’t get to see two weeks ago.

But it wasn’t until mile 25, when I was back down in Tenby for the 4th time amongst the sensational crowd, that I let myself smile and actually soak in what was happening. I ran the last mile full of adrenaline, excitement, and joy. I cried a lot, as many of you saw in the finish line video. As I talked about in the intro, it was an unexpected, but beautiful and amazing way to say goodbye to this season. And that last run down the chute, with high fives, and cheers, I crossed the finish line an Ironman…Champion!

Doesn't get any better. Thanks everyone. - Photo cred Getty Images.

Doesn’t get any better. Thanks everyone. – Photo cred Getty Images.

Lots of Thanks:

My wife – As I said, my wife not only was an amazing sherpa, special needs provider, absolute twitter update phenomenon, but she also sacrifices a lot for me to do what I do. It’s a busy, tough, demanding life that all of you appreciate I’m sure. She gives me the most of anyone by a long shot, and is my biggest rock of support. For that I am always and forever grateful. Thank you wif, I love you.

My family – Jude & Joyce, thank you so so much for the support this week, and the cheers along the way. It was amazing to have you both there, and seriously got me across the finish line. Mom, Dad, Janna, Jeff, Joel, Lis, Waylon, Darren, Courtney, Lindsey, Terri, Polster, James and Elia. You guys give a lot, and deal with a lot of BS throughout the season and in my life in general to enable moments like this. I sincerely appreciate the support this year and all years. Frank, I miss you dude. I know you were watching this shit go down and screaming your face off because I felt you out there. Thanks for everything man.

My coach, Matt Dixon of purplepatch fitness (and Kelly and Baxter). I wouldn’t have, didn’t believe I would ever do an Ironman when I started with you. I didn’t believe I could do what I did on Sunday. But, you did. Thank you for pushing me to that opportunity and experience, and having the confidence in me to succeed. I know you feel redemption and validation in the performance, the training, and philosophy. Thanks so much for 5 years.

My Amazing Sponsors: Read More About Why They’re Awesome!

Pearl Izumi – Geoff, Don, Kody and team, thank you! This was amazing, and your support throughout the years has been nothing short of spectacular. Thank you so so much for all the work you put into getting my feet ready to run. Wouldn’t have happened without you guys.
ROKA Sports – Rob, Kurt, Ryan and team. Damn it! We’ve come a long way in 4 years! That was, I think the swim of my career, and I have you guys to thank for a big part of it. So awesome to be a part of your team. Stoked to see you all soon.
Jaybird – Judd, Rene, Rhyan, Craig and team – you guys are awesome. Thanks for always having my back regardless of outcome. You guys are the best, looking forward to catching up soon.
Red Bull – Ashley, Josh, Per and team. Thank you so so so much for all your support the last few years. This was crazy and I think you guys believed more than I did at some points. So stoked for next year to see what we can do. Thanks a bunch for everything.
Dimond – TJ, Brad, Ethan, Chris, Matt and team! Holy cow the bike was great. Markus and I both rode under course record pace, and clearly it set me up to run well. It’s been awesome to be a part of your team this year!
Picky Bars – Guys, I’m the most absent CEO ever and I’m sorry. But I sincerely appreciate the work you put in that enables this crazy triathlife. Seriously. Big big thanks. Beers on me next week.
Refuel by Digipower – Maurice and team, thanks so much for support this year that enables me to pursue dreams like this. The powerbank has been key traveling in Europe the last few weeks, use it every day! Thanks a bunch and looking forward to stuff down the road.
Rolf Prima – Brian, Brooke and team. Thanks so much for all the support this year and since the beginning. The Ares 6 clinchers were dialed as usual and a perfect combo for this course. Really appreciate it, and looking forward to catching up soon.
PowerTap – Guys! Thanks so much for the support and equipment this year and the many years! And massive congrats on the new products! Stoked for you and really appreciate the encouragement day in and day out.
Accenture – Justin, Steve, Molly, and team. Thanks so much for everything this year guys. Had an absolute blast with your team, VIPs, and customers at the events and webinars we did. Really, really appreciate the support that enables me to do this job. Talk with you soon!

The Race Organizers, Volunteers and Communities of Pembrokeshire/Tenby: You guys seriously have an amazing event on your hands. From the moment I stepped foot in Tenby, I felt supported with kindness, hospitality, information, people going out of their way to help, support, and encouragement me until the moment I crossed that finish line. The course has the most amazing combination of beautiful scenery, serious difficulty, and fan friendliness/amazing cheer support of any race I’ve ever done. Congratulations on creating and maintaining an amazing event, and thank you so much for having me be a part of it.

Just one image of the crowds we saw many times throughout the day. An awesome experience to say the least! Photo Getty Images / Walesonline.co.uk.

You knew it was coming. Last but certainly not least: CRAZY. ASS. FANS.

THANK YOU. Seriously. Thank you. Thank you. The number of messages, comments, likes, emails, notes, kudos, tweets, etc that I’ve received from the dozens of you all over the last two weeks is honestly overwhelming. I’ve felt abundantly supported by you all and am so psyched to share this moment with you. We all deserve it, damn it! Thank you so much for following along and encouraging me like you do. As long as there’s a story to tell, regardless of outcome, it makes it all worth it.

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111 comments to IM Wales – First Ironman and Holy Crap Ironman Champion

  • Loved watching this unfold – a huge congrats on a great day to a deserving triathlete. So, Kona next year? 🙂

    • Jesse Thomas

      We’ll see. This didn’t qualify me 100%, but did give me some good points and an Ironman, both of which are needed. I may have to do another one before Kona if I want to do it because I got so few points from Worlds. All decisions and planning to be made AFTER a big break!

  • Doug K

    Bravo Jesse !
    2:52 for a first marathon, on Welsh hills, with a pretty good warmup 😉

  • Guillaume



    This is in contention for good karma award of the year. You winning Wales, Rappstar winning Tremblant, it gets you right there when the good guys win 🙂

    • Jesse Thomas

      Rappstar was definitely inspiration out there. The great races come and go, so awesome to see some of my best buddies have similar days. Thanks man!

  • Burt Hodges

    No amount of fueling can replicate the energy boost that a high five from your kids provides. Just an outstanding job. You had just convinced me in an article a few months ago that I didn’t need to do a full Ironman to be a triathlete. Damn you Jesse! Seriously, you are an inspiration to a ton of triathletes and it has been fun following your career so far. I see good things ahead for you.

    • Jesse Thomas

      Hahaha. It’s still 100% Ok to NOT be an Ironman. But if you eventually feel like it’s something you’d like to experience, go for it! Good luck and thanks for following!

  • sandra

    Jesse, I am seriously awed by your win!!!!
    This Ironman Triathlon was an opportunity to prove to yourself, coach,family and friends what you are capable of achieving. You are a world class athlete,extraordinary man and a pleasure to know and follow.
    The scream that erupted when I read the result, could have been heard in Bend. Enjoy the time with your family and be ready for an exciting 2016. Cheers,Sandra

  • Ben-Jammin


  • I love that you, as a newly minted Ironman freakin-champion, get the same lessons and epiphanies out of racing that I do, as a slow old lady with a few half-ironmans and an Ironman under her belt! And there is truly nothing better than a high-five from your kid during a race. That part got me choked up, dammit. Great job out there. Looking forward to watching you dominate the Queen K someday soon!

    -Crazy-Ass Fan #11

    • Jesse Thomas

      Ha! We’ll see. All lessons from sport are the same at all levels, and that’s part of what’s great about it. Thanks so much for following and good luck on your own racing!

  • Greg

    Jesse, I think I speak for all the crazy ass fans in saying thank you. You are a CEO, a dad, and a professional athlete who takes his time to share his knowledge with us. I always learn a lot from your blog and your articles on Triathlete Magazine. It was awesome to follow you and see you have a successful day.

    I am honestly amazed at how you and the other pro triathletes go as fast as you do when you race. I look at the data and it is crazy how fast you guys can run after biking the speeds that you guys do. How you went into a race, not trained for that distance, and just went out and did it is on a whole new level of awesomeness. And you did it on a ridiculously badass course. I don’t think you should ever doubt yourself about where you stack as a professional athlete again. You are one of the best.

    Enjoy the break from racing and I look forward to following you again next year and see you have more breakthroughs in racing and life. Congratulations!!!

    • Jesse Thomas

      Thanks Greg! Appreciate it. It’s our job, so the lots of hours stack up week over week, month over month, and year over year. It sounds crazy when you see it from a normal angle, but it’s just lots of small steps put together over time. I amaze myself looking back at it as well. Appreciate the kind words and thanks for following and reading the articles.

  • Congrats Jesse! I have learned so much from watching and following you.I hope to earn a Kona spot at IM Chattanooga on the 27th from all I have learned! Keep up the great work and keeping inspiring us! Don

  • Matt

    Jesse, what an amazing day! Not only for you but us fans watching on the sidelines. To see you run through the town with a smile that big was awesome. Plus the aviators are rad! I’ve did IM wales in 2012 so i know the mental strength needed to get around the thing nevermind the amazing physical ability to get anywhere near the front.
    Just a special day to whitness and you have gained yourself a lot of new fans here in Wales. As we say around here ‘legend’


    • Jesse Thomas

      Ha! Thanks Matt! Appreciate the support out there. Wouldn’t let myself smile until that last lap through town, and man, when I did, it was brilliant. So awesome to feel the energy of that crowd. Really appreciate it!

  • Bree

    Amazing and inspirational. You rock, JT!

  • Meredith

    Thank you for sharing our journey with us. I felt your disappointment over World’s, I think it’s safe to say that we all felt your joy over becoming an Ironman and becoming an Ironman Champion! Can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store for you. Congrats!

  • Stephanie

    Amazing! You are an inspiration – keep up the AWESOME work!

  • Liana

    I sobbed through this while waiting for my tire to get replaced and the guys thought I was crying over my flat. (Note: condolences for tire loss is an untapped market and they had a TON of good sympathy to offer)

    But anyway. Thank you for sharing your journey and staying raw and rad through it all. You rock. Congratulations. You deserve this.

  • Jesse, you made our day. Fantastic win. I normally help marshall on my Motorcycle for Ironman but this year I spectated with my girlfriend instead and so happy we did. We were on finish line in the stands and watched you come in to finish while commentator explains your background. You did so well.

    Really glad you enjoyed Pembrokeshire and hope you come back next time.

    Please find our support on website link

    • Jesse Thomas

      Awesome! The community there was absolutely fantastic across the board. What a great place for a race and so well supported. Glad you guys got to experience it!

  • Lisa

    You ROCK! This is what triathlon is about–hard work and taking chances! So happy for you and to watch your progress in the sport, and in life (your wife seriously rocks also!). I was out there fighting for iron finish #34, and was blown away by the challenging course–by far, in my experience, one of the (if not THE) toughest ones out there! Chapeau and cheers!

  • Dputts

    First off you’re the mannnnnn! So happy that you were able to put Worlds in the rear view mirror. You are certainly a deserved champion. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, emotions and feelings with us crazy ass fans. I am sure I speak for everyone reading this when I say that it is greatly appreciated! Enjoy the offseason and some quality time with Lauren and Jude.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this, I´m going to Chicago WCH this Saturday and reading it was like gasoline for my engine!!!!

  • It’s not the winning that makes me others follow you. It’s that you are genuine, you love your family, you share the pain of a bad day and the elation of a good one. I think you’ve got something going here. You showed up unknown for your first Wildflower and won. Now you show up for your first Ironman and win. Please don’t make big plans for Kona. Just borrow some sunglasses and see what happens!

  • Chip Newman

    Thank you again for sharing your season. There’s a reason you have so many fans. I think it is because you help us to see that no matter what level a person is as a triathlete, the struggles and joys are still the same. You make it very easy to cheer for you. Congratulations on your victory, and best wishes going forward. (Also, do me a favor, and thank Lauren and Jude for sharing you with the rest of us.)

  • Gerry Balnaves

    From Australia it was nerve racking refreshing the live update blog to see the results but then it just got more and more AWESOME as the race progressed!

    Keep it up. You are an inspiration.

    Dozens is an understatement for your number of crazy ass fans. A dozen dozen is a gross, so maybe you have a gross amount of crazy ass fans?

    Doesn’t have the same ring to it.

    • Jesse Thomas

      Hahaha. I thought about a new name too….grosses of crazy ass fans? I’m not sure how it works to be honest. I think I’ll see how many new dozens stick around before claiming a new number name.

  • David Hoffman

    Are you nuts? What made you think you could win an Ironman? I witnessed your effort in Austria! Don’t you just love sport for what it throws at you? You Jesse Thomas are an Ironman….champion! Booyah

  • Luke

    dude, you rock. So stoked for you. Love your philosophy of triathlife, your good humored approach to the sport, and your commitment to gittin ‘er done. great race. congrats!

  • Akern

    Booyah!! What an awesome race report! Got a little misty eyed reading about a high five from the Junior Cheer Squad. Seriously, I always cry why my boys cheer me on the course. It’s pretty awesome. This has been like reading the satisfying ending of a suspense novel-totally worth the investment. Far from the end, though, I see more good things coming! Way to go!!

  • Crazy Ass Fan #1

    So proud! Love the wonderful son, husband, father, brother and friend that you are! You deserve this! Mom

    (P.S. Also love all you crazy ass fans! )

  • Fabs

    Thank you for keeping the professional tri scene interesting with your honest reports. It’s very inspiring to follow your journey. Thank you!

  • Richard Melik

    Great racing and great report. If you get a second have a read of Andy Greenleaf’s race report here http://andygreenleaf.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/picking-myself-up-at-ironman-wales.html – quite a few similarities to your “journey”

    He built his whole year around Zell Am See, got a straight red card for crossing white line on bike descent and then decided to use his fitness to have an early crack at a Kona slot. He finished first amateur by over half an hour with a 2.55 marathon, pretty solid?! There may just be something to going a little fresher into an ironman off 70.3 training…

    • Jesse Thomas

      Yep, saw Andy’s performance (he commented below!) Awesome to see it happen for someone else as well, and clearly on his way to some solid professional racing!

  • Conrad Rodas

    Wow, amazing day Jesse! Congratulations, this is definitely an unbelievable accomplishment. As I said on the DM on Instagram before Worlds you are a great inspiration to me personally but I know to many many other people as well. Your reports are always on point too! Really enjoy reading them. I really hope that I can see you in Kona next year, I will do my part and try to qualify as a very amateur but it would be amazing if you also made it there! Congrats again and I will keep following your journey to keep fueling mine!

  • Alan Grove

    Saw you closing in on Marcus on the way up that hill and it was obvious that JudePower™ was in full effect and there was only going to be one result (I still had the third bike loop to go!) Thanks to both of you for taking the time to chat with a slightly delirious Crazy Ass Fan so late in the evening. I don’t think I was making much sense! Congratulations again!

  • Michael Keene

    I gotta go grab a paper towel, now. Absolutely, awesome! You bring a level of spirit to life that expands to me and all of us. Thank you!

  • Nick de B

    Absolutely epic!! I’ve heard how tough that course is and to go out and there and keep it together on the run is awesome. Recongising the mind games from my first IM in July, really good to see you get the result!

  • Okay, not embarrassed to say I just read that through for the third time. Awesome race, awesome race report.

  • Ryan

    You know… it’s funny. After your announcement, I went to slowtwitch and drafted a post that predicted you to win the race. I never posted it, because I knew that it would get a lot of backlash.

    But I just had this feeling for a couple reasons:
    1) You’re crazy fast in 70.3 races. For you to be able to drop low 5-minute miles during those races is just insane, AND your bike fitness has come a LONG LONG way since the first time you did Wildflower.
    2) You do a lot of climbing. Enough said.
    3 (and most important)) You race best when you go into races with no expectations. That’s why you won wildflower the first time. You just did it to do it, and you were so relaxed and free from pressure and expectation that you WON IT! You seem to be at your best at this point.

    Anyways… I wish I’d posted the prediction now, but it’s too late, and I can’t brag about being right. But you’re awesome Jesse!

    Last request – please don’t burn yourself out next year chasing Kona. We don’t want you to lose your Jesse aura.

    • Jesse Thomas

      Damn it! Next time! Hahah. Thanks man. I knew deep down that it was as good as it gets for me as well, course wise, just had no idea how the body would respond. Thanks for the vote of confidence!

  • Kevin Day

    Great report and a fantastic win. Well done and a great review. It was my first Ironman as well and when you are passed me on the bike it was like a tornado going past. I was doing 42 mph and you made me feel stationary!

    Crowds were amazing and if you had taken 14:52 to do it like me you would have had more time to enjoy Tenby!

  • I don’t hardly know your or your family. But i do read your posts from time to time and equally Lauren’s posts. bBoy you two can surely write. and WTF, i have had the occasional PickyBar.Congratulations on your marvelous event and hard earned success. As an outsider looking in,I have the sense that both of you and soon to be the youngj Jude, are and will continue to be the best of America optimism, hard work and humility in the pursuit of success. in whatever you choose to do. all the best.

    Michael Lebowitz

  • John Barry

    Wow Jesse…you couldn’t have come up with a better ending to your season this year. Sure takes the sting out of the penalty at worlds…sometimes things happen for a reason. This was an amazing performance which obviously you were well prepared for. You rock, as well as Lauren!

  • David

    Very proud and exicted of/for you Jesse. Way to go!!

  • OMG wow! First Ironman AND a win???!! congratulations to you!! I have taken a break from tri-ing to run a marathon this year and you and your stories inspire me to get back to it. Ironman before 50. I’m so happy for you and I’m so glad to be along for your journey, even if it’s just via tweets and blogs. Congratulations!

  • John Walsh

    Woohoo!!! Jesse, what a race. Congratulations on a fantastic race and a well deserved result. Impressive on every dimension and I am really happy for you and your family. Truly inspirational.


  • Jeff

    I’ve had tears of joy reading this for the last half hour. So proud and happy for you! What a great win to have in your hip pocket going into the off season.

    We will all be drinking the Cool-Aid on this one for a while until we have a chance to have a beer later this week. Well done and good job!

    The step Dad

  • Mark

    What an amazing performance. Congratulations again – enjoy your break!

    This paragraph is very inspiring – lots to keep in mind for my fall marathon, after some mid-season injuries:

    “And so that’s what sport, and for me, what Sunday, “is all about.” It’s that it takes you on a journey. You have a plan, a direction, a route, but ultimately you can only control a few things. And sometimes, $hit happens, and you won’t go where you wanted to. But if you work hard, keep your head up, and mind open to possibilities in spite of fear and doubt, you may end up in a place you never expected. And it may be more beautiful and rewarding than where you wanted to go.”


  • Terri Johnson

    Soooooo proud of you, Jesse! Your writing was awesome, thanks for all the sharing. Now, RELAX, and enjoy your beautiful family!

  • Kristen Salkas

    I can’t think of anyone more deserving to win a race. Fall down 7 times, stand up 8. You embody perseverance and greatness… and we all have a lot to learn from you.

  • Congrats!!
    You rock,you are an example… I see you in wildflower with aviators and think that the way i want to race too
    I’ve KQ with aviators sunglasses and from there all my race are with them!!
    ….and than when you write about the boost you received from the five of your guy…… Amazing!!!!
    Have a good end of year and a booyeah 2016!

  • Aaron

    JT!!!! Congrats brother! There are a bunch of us crazy ass fans up here in Coeur d’Alene Idaho who are super inspired by your IM victory! I have been really down on myself because of a somewhat lousy performance in my last race of the season (which was a few weeks ago). Your experience IM report is really helping me to regroup for next season.

    Thanks dude!

    • Jesse Thomas

      Thanks man! Appreciate you guys following along. Like I said in the post, stay at it, and it’ll come around. It’s the nature of sport to have ups and downs, I’ve had my fair share!

  • Stacy

    What an amazing story! You and Lauren are inspirational in so many ways. You are candid and sincere in sharing your challenges, setbacks, and accomplishments. You remind regular mid-packers like me that it is ok to dream, to try, to fail, to get frustrated, to come back, and to try again and again. It was thrilling to watch your journey unfold. Thank you for sharing so honestly and openly. Congrats on your incredible accomplishment!

    • Jesse Thomas

      Thanks Stacy, love that the story telling impacts people for sure, and you’re totally right, we’re all experiencing the same stuff. Appreciate the kind words.

  • Charlie


    huge congratulations on an amazing race, you passed me on the cycle (your second loop, going up that 18% monster covered by the trees) and the ease you hit it with made me get out the saddle and try and keep up….which didnt work. I wish you all the best with what looks like an exciting career at the full distance, i really hope you take a chance at Kona.

  • Damie

    Super congratulations!!! I did IM Wales in its inaugural year, and it is a BEAST of an IM. So, not many people can relate to that SBR you just did. It is an epic course, and I don’t say that lightly. It is just not well known as it is so close to Kona. But, what an amazing first IM for you to do, and honestly, the rest will seem easy after conquering that course. GREAT JOB!!!! And didn’t you love it? My FAVORITE! I saw you at HJ and Wattie’s wedding- but too shy to say hi. Of course, not too shy to talk to the “wif,” as she is awesome, yes? But wish I had introduced myself. Congrats again- onward and upward!!!!

    • Jesse Thomas

      Oh man! Next time please don’t be too shy! Hahaha. Always up for a chat. Yes, that course is absolutely NUTS, but I think that’s the way it should be. Loved it for sure. Until next time!

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