It may seem strange to think that Ironman John Whipple has Jay-Z, AC/DC, and Neil Diamond all on the same playlist. But this hardly seems strange in comparison to competing in an Ironman event which includes a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike race, and 26.2 mile run. Yes, choosing to do an Ironman is stranger than combining “Hard Knock Life,” “Back in Black,” and “Sweet Caroline” on a playlist.
We are deeply grateful that John is dedicating his participation in Ironman Canada to the work of Team Julia. John is not only Julia’s cousin, but a true inspiration in the fight against cancer. We caught up with John recently to ask him some questions not only about the Ironman event itself, but what it means to compete for Team Julia.
Thanks, John, for taking the time to visit with us. And while in Canada, be sure to turn up Diamond’s “Coming to America” when it comes up on the playlist!
TEAM JULIA: This isn’t your first Ironman. Some people would say one Ironman is too many. What other Ironmen have you done and what is it about this endurance race that keeps you coming back for more?
JOHN WHIPPLE (JW): This will be my fourth race at this distance, having done Vineman, Ironman Canada, and Ironman Coeur d’Alene. I started when I was 40, so it’s kind of a “mid-life crisis” sorta thing. I see it as a way to hang on to my younger years.
TEAM JULIA: Which of the three legs do you find most difficult and why?
JW: The run. Especially the 2nd half. You never know what will be left in your legs.
TEAM JULIA: Are there any specific aspects of the Whistler course that you’re looking forward to or, perhaps, dreading?
JW: I had a chance to ride most of the bike course recently, and the scenery is simply stunning. You’ve got mountains all around, which, of course, makes for a tough course.
TEAM JULIA: How will you refuel during the race? What are some things you’ll drink or eat?
JW: Most of my refueling will be from the on-course nutrition they provide at aid stations, which is mostly Gatorade-type drinks, maybe some gels. I usually eat a couple Snickers on the bike, and I like to get in a Red Bull or two. Flat Coke on the run is usually a treat.
TEAM JULIA: What make and model shoe are you running in?
JW: I’ve been running in Saucony shoes the last two years, switching between their Kinvara’s and the Mirage. I’ll probably run in the Mirage at Whistler.
TEAM JULIA: Who are some bands on your Ironman playlist?
JW: I have a strange playlist, as I’ve compiled a list of songs the last 3 years which only have one thing in common—they all carry 90 beats per minute. Reason being, I like to take 180 steps per minute, so every other footstrike keeps the beat. Which bands? I’ve got everything from AC/DC, Dixie Chicks, Bruce Springsteen, Jay-Z, to Neil Diamond. When I ride my bike, I mostly listen to sports talk podcasts. I like Colin Cowherd, and any talk about the Seattle Seahawks.
TEAM JULIA: When you think of your cousin Julia, how is she like an Ironman?
JW: It seems kind of silly to make comparisons of fighting cancer and competing in Ironman. You sign up for Ironman, you don’t for cancer. That said, there’s usually a point in an Ironman race where your body wants to quit. Hopefully, your mind can convince the body to keep going. The mental toughness and determination that Julia possesses, and uses in her fight with cancer is incomprehensible. Mentally, Ironman would be a walk in the park for Julia.
TEAM JULIA: What does it mean for you to do an Ironman in support of Team Julia? What are your hopes for this charity?
JW: Participating in endurance events, you notice more than quite a few people running in support of charities and specific causes. I think the causes that charities are fighting for inspire the participants that are racing in support of those charities, and vice versa. They kind of fuel each other. Endurance events are a great place to get the message of Team Julia out, as the audience is really accepting and understanding of the cause.
TEAM JULIA: What’s the next event you hope to do in support of Team Julia?
JW: You better ask my wife that question.
TEAM JULIA: Which is better, the black or white Team Julia race hat?
JW: White. But only after Memorial Day.
To support John’s race with a tax-deductible donation to Team Julia, please go here. Thank you for your partnership in this vital work!