SARANAC LAKE – Racing in, or just trying to finish one Ironman triathlon can be a brutal enough undertaking. Lake Placid’s Mac Rand is planning on doubling the agony this summer.
Rand will compete Sunday, July 27 as his hometown hosts the Ironman triathlon for the 16th straight summer. Then, when the 60-year-old substitute teacher wakes up the next morning, he will attempt to tackle the course again with hopes of completing two Ironman distances on back-to-back days for a total of 281.2 miles.
“The reason I am doing this is to honor cancer patients,” Rand said. “The second day is not going to be pretty, but I think I can do it.”
During his two-day effort, Rand will swim, bike and run as a member of Team in Training, which is a worldwide organization that works with athletes to raise money to fight leukemia and lymphoma. Since it was founded in 1988, Team in Training has seen its athletes raise more than a billion dollars to fight cancer.
Working with Team in Training is a natural fit for Rand, who lost one of his best friends, Greg Sauter, to leukemia in 1992. During his time on the course, Rand will be inspired by the memory of Sauter, who was 44 and considered as a member of Rand’s family, mainly a brother. When he passed away, Sauter left behind a wife and two children.
“I miss Greg so much,” Rand said. “He made a big impact on my life. Greg had this big laugh, a constant smile on his face and a real love of life. He was just a wonderful guy and he truly was my brother.”
Rand will also be driven by a youngster he has become close friends with, a 12-year-old named Zach Swart who has been battling cancer for nearly half his life. Swart is from Saugerties and will turn 13 the day before the Ironman Lake Placid.
Over the two days, Rand has set a goal of raising $28,000, or $100 per mile.
Always ready for a challenge, Rand’s first venture into distance racing as a Team in Training member took place in 1991 in the Queens Ultra-Marathon, where he ran 86 miles over a 24-hour time period.
Rand has completed four Ironman races during his years as a triathlete. His first was in Hawaii in 1985, and he returned to race on the world championship course in 2004. He next raced in the 2007 Ironman Arizona. He planned to compete in 2009 in Lake Placid, before a bike crash while training in 2008 near his former home of Pawling dashed those plans. In that accident, Rand broke three vertebraes and fractured his hip.
In 2011, Rand finally competed in Lake Placid and finished the course in 12 hours, 15 minutes while dedicating the day to Swart. The previous year, Rand ran in the Boston Marathon.
“Not bad for an old guy,” he quipped.
As a Team in Training athlete, Rand’s aim was to raise $10,000 while racing in his first Ironman Lake Placid triathlon and surpassed the goal by nearly $800. He also carried a list of cancer victims and survivors during the Lake Placid event, something he will do again this summer.
Rand said the thought of attempting Ironman races here on two consecutive days occured to him while he was working as a volunteer at the 2013 Lake Placid Ironman.
“It was a pretty random thought,” Rand recalled. “The idea first came into my head, out of the blue, on race day last year. I was wondering if I could do this two days in a row. I’m the kind of guy who’s always looking for the next challenge and looking for new ways that I can push myself. I think this one is pretty extreme.”
After deciding that he was going to begin mentally and physically preparing to take on two Ironman races in two days, Rand started to do a little research and found that it has been done before by a handful of people, including an Arizona triathlete named Gary Brasher, who Rand immediately contacted and since then, has been a big help while Rand modifies his training for July. Brasher actually ran three Ironman races in as many days in 2009 in his home state. Brasher, however, saved the official Ironman race for the final day, but Rand will do it in reverse.
“I thought about how to do this, and it wasn’t a hard choice,” Rand said. “It will be tough for sure getting up and going out there on Monday, but it won’t be anything like what cancer patients face every day. They are fighting a battle every day.”
Rand, who is also a 46er, said even though he usually aims to better his effort while doing something the second time around, he won’t be looking at a finish time during the official Ironman race. Instead, he wants to make sure there’s enough left in his tank for the second, and perhaps, more significant day on the course.
“My mantra has to be ‘If you think you can go faster, hold back,'” he said. “I have every reason to believe I can finish the first day in 14 or 15 hours and still be able to go out and finish the next day. I’m already looking past the big race on Sunday. That’s when I’ll be going into the great unknown.”
In addition to ramping up his training recently, Rand has also been spreading the word about his fundraising effort around the region. He has provided constant updates on his Facebook Team in Training fundraising page and has been posting fliers at area businesses, including area bike shops.
Rand admitted that “training for an Ironman is a selfish thing,” noting that it keeps him away from his family quite a bit. But he added that the support is there from family members, including his wife Ann. But Rand said that this July, his endeavor will be a whole lot more that personal achievement or satisfaction.
“If I did one Ironman, it would be mildly interesting to a handful of people,” Rand said. “This time, it’s not about me. I’m doing this for a much better reason, rather than than patting myself on the back. On the second day, I’ll be out there honoring those who have fought cancer and lost and for those who are still fighting. When I’m out there slogging around on Monday, I’ll have a list of those people with me. I think that’s all I need to make it through the day.”
For more information on Rand’s quest or to make donations, visit Rand’s Team in Training Facebook page at pages.teamintraining.org/uny/yourway15/wmrand, visit Facebook page “140.6 Times 2” or call him at 837-5224.