My father-in-law, Blake Marr is a wonderful man, full of incredible life stories! One of my favorite stories is how his buddies that where swimmers, runners and cyclists had the idea to challenge each other and organize an adventure combining the three endurance races on Oahu: the 2.4 miles rough water swim, the 112 miles Dick Evans ride around the island of Oahu, and the Honolulu Marathon. In the end of the day they wanted to prove who was the best badass beer drinking athlete.
Yep! His friends were some of the guys who started the Nautilus triathlon, which is now known as the Ironman Triathlon. And in case you didn’t know this is how the Ironman distance and triathlon was created! Blake didn’t race the fist year because he didn’t own a bike, but the idea was on his mind. The second year, he signed up but he had to work on the day of the adventure, postponing again his chance to “play” with his buddies. It wasn’t until 1980, the third year of the Nautilus Triathlon, Blake finally lined up at Kaimana Beach with 160 people to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles. Just before the race his wife, Pam reminded him: “Don’t be late for our dinner reservations!” She was serious, they had a family dinner planned that night and both had no idea how hard and challenging the day was going to be. The funny thing is that this was going to be Blake’s first triathlon ever and he had no idea what to expect.
He grow up as a vivid enthusiast towards any type of activity that let him being outside pushing his limits. Most of his adventures where surfing big waves and he thought that triathlon was a perfect fit to keep him in shape chasing big waves. Blake race outfit for his first triathlon was a speedo and goggles for the swim. For the bike an old steel 30+ pounds bike, a bermuda shorts, a cotton t-shirt, and the “stiffest” adidas running shoes. For the run his comment was “I had good stuff” old school run singlet, comfortable running shorts and a nice brooks running shoes.
There were just a few aid stations set up for the participants, so each participant needed to have their own support crew to follow them. Blake asked his bother-in-law and his father to help him, but neither of them had any idea on what an Ironman was about or how to support Blake during this extreme adventure. Not one of them knew the simple things of how to change a flat tire or even on how to exchange a bike wheel, so they carried an old bike on the roof of the car in case he had to swap it out.
They tried to follow Blake but the traffic on Oahu didn’t let them reach him until he was almost 3 hours into his bike ride. What did he eat or drink during this whole time? Nothing!!! Because he didn’t carry anything with him. He didn’t have water bottle cages installed on his bike, and he didn’t realized that there was a chance that his support crew could get stuck in traffic! So his first “aid station,” was a garden hose on the side of the road. It wasn’t until past the halfway point of the bike he finally caught up with his support crew. It was at the North Shore where his wife, and his two sons where waiting to cheer Blake on. He stopped to eat some oranges, bananas, drink coke, give all of them a big kiss, and tell his wife: “Don’t worry I will be there for dinner!”. He finished the race around 13 hours, with no time to celebrate, and just enough time to shower with a sketchy hose at the park and stumble over to meet the family for dinner.
Tim, his youngest son was just a 1 year old when Blake finished that first Ironman triathlon. Blake never imagined or expected that one day Tim would take this same crazy adventure and race at the professional level competing in Ironman events all over the world. Blake raised his two boys outside, surfing at the North shore, hiking and camping on the most exciting trails in Hawaii, and doing all sorts of activities that involve “torturing and twisting the boys” Blake would say with a laugh!
Last week was Blake 64th birthday, and he plans to celebrate by running a 50 kilometers trail run on Oahu…just for fun!
For all of you racing ironman this weekend or chasing any other adventure…Keep going, have fun, and don’t be late for dinner!
We will be cheering for you!
some dreams are worth sharing…
photos: Blake Marr’s personal collection of all the ironmans he has done after his first one in 1980