On Sunday, May 9 ultra-distance triathletes Richard Roll and Jason Lester started their fourth of five Ironman-distance triathlons with a Mother’s-Day morning flight from Molokai to Maui.By Mark Johnson
Lester and Roll washed the sleep out of their eyes with a 10:00 a.m., 2.4 mile ocean swim at southern Maui’s Kamaole beach
From the start, the going wasn’t easy. Due to strong currents, Roll finished his swim in about 1:15, 20 minutes slower than his usual swim splits. And Lester, who swims with one arm because one was disabled in a childhood bike wreck, took an hour and a half to complete his swim.
After swimming eight times around a triangle-shaped swim course, Roll, a competitive swimmer at Stanford in the 1980s, said it was the most difficult of their four swim legs so far.
Things didn’t lighten up after the bike transition. Like the previous day on Molokai, stiff breezes taxed the already-weary riders. It was “extremely windy,” crew member Molly Kline said from the riders’ support vehicle. “Great side winds, head winds. They did get a little bit of tail wind, but definitely a tough bike.”
With the late swim start and grinding winds putting the brakes on their cycling progress, Lester and Roll’s support crew purchased bike lights from a local bike shop to keep the riders safe as they rode into the dark of Sunday night.
Even though they faced a long night of riding and running, Roll and Lester’s spirits were upbeat. “They are psyched that this is their fourth one,” Kline said. “They are proud that they have made it this far and they are doing well.”
That said, Kline noted that “their bodies are becoming more of a challenge.” Both are suffering from chafing and foot blisters. The triathletes are also finding that their daily island transitions are forcing them to loose recovery sleep, which then compounds the physical deterioration from back-to-back Ironman events.
Nonetheless, neither has suffered any major physical issues. “The first few days are pretty golden as far as their bodies holding up,” Kline noted. “But it’s a little more rough as the days go by.”
After starting their their marathon at 11:00 p.m., Roll Twittered, “One foot in front of the other is the task at hand.” Running into the after-midnight hours, he and Lester saw plenty of Maui’s nocturnal wildlife on their way to a finish that was serenaded by Maui’s crowing roosters at 5:00 a.m.
The final triathlon takes place at Ironman’s spiritual and physical heart, Kona, Hawaii. Roll and Lester expect to start on their final Ironman at noon Monday and finish near dawn the next day.
Follow the final all-nighter EPIC5 at www.epic5.com/live and Competitor.com.