Mr. Right: Iron Man Chris McCormack

You’ve seen the movie Iron Man, but what do you know about the real life Iron Men (and women) who brave the weather, water, and grueling terrain in international Iron Man competitions?  We recently caught up with two-time Iron Man World Champion Chris McCormack to find out what kind of mettle it takes to be an Iron Man.

Growing up in Sydney, Australia, all Chris McCormack ever wanted to do was surf.  He’d surf every day, before and after school until one day, he flipped on the television –  and what he saw that day changed everything.

“I was drawn to the coverage on television [of this race in Hawaii] because I figured that maybe, if I went to Hawaii I might catch a glimpse of some of these Hawaiian waves. In the end, I was so enthralled with this amazing race that I forgot all about looking for the surf in the background and just focused on the athletes who were racing. The year was 1987 and this race was The Hawaii Ironman. I was just captured by the enormity of this event and could not believe that people could do distances of that magnitude in a single day. When the event was over I said to my family, ‘I am going to do that race one day.’ “

The Iron Man competition was very boutique in the late 80’s and very raw – which also appealed to Chris.  He threw himself completely into the sport – reading every magazine he could get his hands on to learn about racing events all around the world.

Prior to focusing on Ironman competitions, Chris won nearly every major short course title on the global triathlon calendar.  In 1997, he took the World #1 position – winning both the 1997 ITU Triathlon World Championships and the 1997 ITU Triathlon World Cup.  Chris is the first male triathlete ever to win both titles (the double) in the same year.

He also became the first triathlete in a decade to capture the US Triple Crown. In 2001, Chris was again crowned “Global Triathlete Of The Year” and “Competitor Of The Year” and became the only triathlete ever to hold the USA Professional Championship Title and the USA Sprint Course Title in one season.

Given the grueling rigors of the Iron Man competition – which consists of a rough water swim, bike race and marathon all in one race – it may surprise some to learn that Chris doesn’t really follow a strict training regimen or diet.

“I follow one pretty simple rule when it comes to nutrition. I try to eat as balanced and healthy as possible. I always go Organic and if I don’t know what’s in a dish or how it is made, then I won’t eat it. This usually relates to those heavily processed things. I have three kids so I know how tough it is to eat perfectly. I honestly believe there is no such thing as perfect nutrition. I try to eat well 90% of the time, which means there is a good 10% of the time where I will eat things that are not that great.”

Unlike many athletes, who are notoriously superstitious, Chris told us that this rule of thumb doesn’t really change much when he’s preparing for a competition, either.

“I try to keep my diet very balanced, continuously, as I have found that big shocks and changes in diet have adverse effects on energy levels. I focus a little more on carbohydrates in the days leading up to an event, but do not carbo-load by any means. I think the key to my nutrition is being aware of what I eat. When you start to be aware of what you put in your body, and you eat for a purpose, then it becomes much healthier and balanced and more specific to your demands.”

Chris – known in sporting circles by the nickname “Macca” – also attributes a balance, of sorts, as one of the factors that has helped him attain his Iron Man success.

“Ironman racing demands a massive physical,spiritual and emotional commitment to conquer. For those people who really aim to excel at this event, it is the way you balance your commitment that ultimately determines the outcome for you. The training is tough and demands a lot of time, but I think the really successful players at endurance events like Iron Man, are the ones who have a lot of brains as well as brawn.”

Chris also explained that, in addition to having an outstanding work ethic, the ability to find motivation from within and the drive that enables each of us to excel under difficult conditions is critical to succeeding in this event.

“People are awesome at telling you what you can’t do! It’s up to you, to tell yourself what you can do,” he told us.  “Ironman is a race that requires each person to ask a lot of themselves – both physically and emotionally. If you are not built from a solid foundation, then it is easy to crumble.”

Chris McCormack’s racing accolades ultimately led to him becoming the first non-American in history to grace the cover of the Wheaties Cereal Box – an honor made famous by former Olympic decathlon superstar Bruce Jenner. And while his sporting feats are seemingly endless, it is his work with his Macca Now Foundation that may have an even more far-reaching impact on the world.

The foundation donated more than $770,000 to breast cancer research last year, globally, in honor of his mother Teri McCormack who passed away from the disease at 52 years of age in 1999.

“My Mum never got to see me race, and my family have set ourselves a goal to raise at least $2, 735,373 in my Mum’s honor.”  Chris and his family arrived at their fundraising goal by multiplying the number of days his mother was alive (19,455) by the amount of miles covered in an Ironman race (140.6.)

“As a family, we decided that this would be our goal, to raise and donate this amount of money to Breast Cancer organizations around the world. I have 2 girls of my own and I throw as much support as I can to the Macca Now Foundation. It has become my life.”

In his spare time, Chris still enjoys surfing; and now, he has the added benefit of teaching his two young daughters how to surf, as well. “I love to surf and I love taking my girls down to learn surfing.”

Back home in Sydney after spending 10 years in the United States, Chris also takes time out to paddle ski in the Bay where he and his family live and catch up with family and friends when he’s not busy training.

Chris has given himself 5 more years of competing before he hangs up his racing the shoes. In addition to winning Iron Man New York, he currently has the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London squarely in his sights.  It’s a lofty goal and he’s had his share of naysayers about his potential success.

“[Competing] at the London Olympic Games is a huge shift in racing for me, and many people are saying it is impossible, but I am going for it anyway.”

An Iron Man, with an iron will – the smart money is on Chris McCormack making it to the London Games –  and making believers out of us all.


For more information about Chris McCormack, please visit:

And pick up his New York best-selling book titled I’m Here to Win

To learn how you can support the Macca Foundation, please visit:

About the Ironman Series:

Since it began as a challenge among a group of Navy Seals, the Ironman has grown to become one of the most recognized endurance events in the world. Originally a combination of the Waikiki Rough Water swim, the Around Oahu Bike Race and the Honolulu Marathon, the Ironman consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run.


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