GUY ADAMI has experienced the thrill of trading millions of dollars in precious metals in a matter of seconds on Wall Street in the 1990s, and analyzing the financial crisis each afternoon as a panelist on the live CNBC program “Fast Money.”
But he says none of those experiences compare with the rush he felt on a sun-dappled Sunday morning in late May in Red Bank, N.J., when he crossed the finish line of his first triathlon. It was at a so-called sprint distance — a half-mile swim, followed by a 13-mile bike ride and then a 3.2-mile run — which Mr. Adami, 48, completed in just under two hours, finishing 116th in a field of 160.
Just signing up for that race was no small accomplishment for Mr. Adami, who, not six months earlier, had been leading the sedentary existence of a trader and carrying a flabby 235 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame. But as a volunteer placed a medal around his neck, Mr. Adami had little time to celebrate. A far more daunting challenge loomed: on Aug. 11, he will join nearly 3,000 other weekend warriors as they seek to endure, and complete, the first Ironman-distance triathlon to be staged in the New York metropolitan region.
To put the magnitude of that 140.6-mile race in perspective, consider this. It will begin at 7 a.m. with a 2.4-mile swim in the Hudson River — the open-water equivalent of about 170 lengths in a 25-yard swimming pool, or nearly five times the distance Mr. Adami completed in that New Jersey sprint.
Those participants who manage to complete that swim in 2 hours 20 minutes or less will move on to the bicycle portion — 112 miles in two loops along the deceptively hilly Palisades Interstate Parkway, or the rough equivalent of pedaling from Manhattan to Hartford.
Riders who finish the bike ride before 5:30 p.m. — or 10 ½ hours after their odyssey begins — will embark on a 26.2-mile marathon, which will begin in Palisades Interstate Park on the New Jersey side of the Hudson and continue for several loops before concluding with a brisk run (or perhaps a staggering walk, which the rules permit) across the George Washington Bridge and into Riverside Park on the West Side of Manhattan.
Participants will have until midnight — 17 hours after their journey begins — to cross the finish line, or face disqualification. If they manage to prevail, they will hear Mike Reilly, the Vin Scully of the Ironman world, who has called more than 100 such races around the world, announce their name and hometown, followed by four precious words: “YOU are an Ironman!” (Women hear the same thing.)
“People say it’s one of the best moments of your life,” Mr. Adami said, “and I’m hoping to experience it.”
Full-distance Ironman races — all modeled on the original Ironman race in Hawaii, in which 15 men competed in 1978 — have become a franchise of sorts over the past two decades.
More than 140,000 people will compete in an Ironman-branded race this year, including international competitions and races known as “Ironman 70.3,” at half the full distance. The number of participants has nearly doubled in the past six years, according to the Ironman organization, the World Triathlon Corporation, which was bought from its previous owner, a Florida eye doctor, in 2008 by Providence Equity Partners, a firm that manages more than $20 billion. (The purchase price was not disclosed.)
The New York-area race, officially known as the Ironman U.S. Championship, will be one of 11 such races in the United States this year. The competition’s debut in the nation’s biggest media market is akin to a musical’s opening on Broadway after carefully honing its act on the road. The American cities that Ironman typically plays each year include much smaller sites, like Lake Placid, N.Y.; Tempe, Ariz.; Louisville, Ky.; Panama City, Fla., and St. George, Utah.
Little wonder, then, that when it was announced, all 3,000 spots sold out in less than 10 minutes, more than a year before the starter’s cannon would sound. Each entrant paid a fee of at least $895, nonrefundable.
Why would a seemingly reasonable man like Mr. Adami want to spend the better part of six months training, and then as many as 17 continuous hours swimming, biking and running, all in a race so grueling that it has killed at least five participants in the past decade?
While no two people race for precisely the same reasons, Mr. Adami shares many of the characteristics of his fellow would-be Ironmen, nearly half of whom are women.
He is, for example, squarely in the age spectrum for a midlife crisis — or, at the least, a midlife challenge. Most men and women who embark on an Ironman for the first time are in their 30s or 40s. Like many would-be Ironmen, Mr. Adami once considered himself an athlete — in the mid-1970s, he played tight end and wide receiver on a state high school championship football team in Croton, N.Y. — only to watch his level of physical fitness recede and the waistband on his suit pants steadily tighten.
To read more of his story by JACQUES STEINBERG you can find here at