McCormack failed to even finish his first attempt at the Hawaii Ironman in 2002, discovering the hard way that his size made it very difficult to handle the oppressive heat. He lost four more times before finally winning in 2007. “It took me some time to find my perfect Kona race weight,” he says.
McCormack learned that losing too much weight weakened him, causing his performance to suffer despite his greater leanness. Realizing he could only get so far by dropping pounds, McCormack began to look at changing how he raced Ironman to make the most of his strength advantage and to minimize the effects of his weight disadvantage.
“I just had to find a way to get as light as I possibly could without losing my strength and then build a racing plan that suited the conditions and my issues in them,” he says.
In the end McCormack learned that a racing weight of 175–177 pounds gave him the ideal balance of leanness and strength, and that being aggressive on the bike and more cautious on the run was the best Kona racing strategy for a big fella.