America Ferrera1 of 11
Recently gracing the cover of Triathlete Magazine, actress America Ferrera has used triathlon to both refocus her life and gain self-confidence. The "Superstore" and "Ugly Betty" star discovered inner strength after the hardships she faced out on the triathlon course and used it to undertake new projects with a stronger—and more confident—approach. She is inspiring an entire generation of women who struggle with self-doubt to try something new and push their boundaries.
Turia Pitt2 of 11
With burns to over 65 percent of her body, sustained after being caught in a brushfire during an ultramarathon, Turia Pitt defied all medical expectations by recovering and continuing her endurance career. Not only has she become a humanitarian for those who need plastic and reconstructive surgeries, but she also channeled her drive and competitive spirit to complete the IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona in 2016.
Madonna Buder3 of 11
The face of a Nike ad during the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, Madonna "Iron Nun" Buder is an 86-year-old Catholic religious sister who holds the world record as the oldest person to finish an IRONMAN at 82 years old. She has completed an impressive 45 IRONMAN triathlons, was inducted into the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame in 2014 and has shown no signs of slowing down.
Lew Hollander4 of 11
Photo/Rachel Wente-Chaney, flickr
As if the Iron Nun wasn't inspiring enough, Lew Hollander has completed over 3,000 endurance events and is still racing at 86 years old. He has competed in the IRONMAN World Championship an impressive 23 times and was the oldest man to finish in Kona at the age of 82. Unfortunately, the high winds at the 2016 IRONMAN World Championship caused him to miss the cutoff, but we have a feeling he'll be back next year.
Team Hoyt5 of 11
What started as a father-son duo at a local 5K, Dick and Rick Hoyt have now become an iconic fixture in the endurance scene after completing over 1,000 races together since 1977. Rick, who was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, has accompanied his dad at the biggest stages —including the IRONMAN World Championship and the Boston Marathon. The two have inspired thousands of others with disabilities to become more active and not limit yourself based on your physical situation.
Iron Cowboy6 of 11
Most people dream of completing a single IRONMAN at some point in their life, but for James "Iron Cowboy" Lawrence, this wasn't enough. In 2016 he completed his 50-50-50 challenge—50 Iron-distance triathlons in 50 days in 50 states. Battling extreme fatigue, overuse injuries and travel barriers, the Iron Cowboy silenced his critics and finished his monumental feat surrounded by friends, family and supporters. His nationwide tour was in support of the Jamie Oliver Foundation, to spread awareness for childhood obesity.
Marcus Cook7 of 11
After weighing in at an all-time high of 489 pounds, Texas businessman Marcus Cook decided he needed to make a change. After undergoing bypass surgery and committing to a healthy diet and workout routine, Cook dropped an impressive 256 pounds. Not only did he finish the Houston Chevron Marathon, but Cook heard Mike Reilly say, "You are an IRONMAN," as he finished the 2017 IRONMAN Texas triathlon with a time of 16:31:59.
The Brownlee Bros.8 of 11
As if their impressive accolades weren't inspiring enough, the Brownlee brothers showed their true colors at the 2016 World Triathlon Series in Cozumel, Mexico. After leading the race, a disoriented Jonny Brownlee hit the proverbial "wall" only 400 meters from the finish line. Alistair Brownlee sacrificed his win by slowing to help his brother down the chute to the finish, placing second and third. If that's not sportsmanship, we don't know what is.
Jake Vella9 of 11
Everyone has their personal reasons for training and racing, but for Jake Vella, competing in triathlons can be the difference between life and death. He suffers from a rare condition called ROHHAD that causes extreme weight gain, despite his healthy lifestyle. Triathlon has helped keep his health in check, as well as help him stay happy and positive. At the end of the day, that's what triathlon is all about.
Bailey Matthews10 of 11
Completing a triathlon is impressive, but completing a triathlon with cerebral palsy is nothing short of inspirational. Eight-year-old Bailey Matthews completed the 100-meter lake swim, 4,000-meter bike and 1,300-meter run at the Castle Howard Triathlon, abandoning his walker for the last 20 meters to cross the finish line unassisted. As heard in the video commentary, there was not a dry eye in sight.