The professional triathlete will race with his father and brothers on Saturday.
When most couples plan festivities leading up to their wedding, they include rehearsal dinners and golf outings. But most couples don’t include Chris McDonald. The six-time Ironman champion, known as “Big Sexy” on the Ironman circuit, will spend his last weekend as a bachelor racing Ironman Texas with his father and brothers.
“My brothers and I have raced together before, and my dad has always played with the idea of doing an Ironman,” says McDonald. “I am getting married next Saturday, and everyone was going to be here. So everything just aligned for us to race together.”
The McDonald family has always been an active one. In addition to playing field hockey at a competitive level, all members of the family have areas of sporting specialty: father Neil, 67, is a talented golfer; oldest brother David, 42, played water polo; Daniel, 41, has finished more than 20 Ironman races; Chris, 35, became a professional triathlete in 2005.
Though father Neil and brother David were immediately on board with the plan to race as a family, Daniel needed some convincing: “When he asked me, I replied I would rather shit in my hands and clap than do another Ironman,” recalls Daniel. He eventually signed on to race in Texas to support his father as he raced his first Ironman.
Like most brothers, there has been some good-natured competitive talk leading up to Saturday’s race. “Everything is a competition in the McDonald family,” laughs Chris, “Growing up, David, Daniel and I would have a race or competition on just about anything.”
Still, the trash talking is kept to a minimum. “We know what the food chain is,” says Daniel. “Chris is the most competitive of us, but he’s a pro, so if he wasn’t competitive he’d be broke. For the rest of us, it’s about getting through the day in one piece.”
Helping the McDonald men get through the day is an extensive support crowd led by mother Rhonda and sister Shantel. McDonald’s fiancé, Erika, and son, David, will also be cheering on the McDonalds, as will members of Big Sexy Racing, the squad coached by Chris. Those spectating Ironman Texas will find the McDonalds easy to spot—Champion System, a sponsor for Chris, created matching tri kits and spectator t-shirts for Saturday’s event.