As Cole Braun set out to complete his first marathon in 2001, he thought that if he could cross the finish line he would accomplish the ultimate test of athleticism and endurance.
He approached his first Ironman Triathlon in 2007 with the same mindset.
Seven years later, after tackling about 25 marathons and 11 Ironman Triathlons, on top of a couple dozen other triathlon events, Braun is training for a challenge double the distance and rigor of a regular Ironman.
In October, Braun, who is chief executive officer of the Lutheran High School Association of Greater Milwaukee, will compete in the USA Ultra Triathlon’s Double Anvil in Virginia. Braun will have 36 hours to swim 4.8 miles, bike 224 miles and run 52.4 miles – all while focusing on keeping a disciplined pace and ensuring he replenishes his calories.
“You literally have to learn how to feel your body and get your body to adapt to be able to exercise and eat at the same time,” he said.
But for Braun, the challenge of the ultra triathlon extends beyond training and competing. As he prepares for the event, which he said fewer than 400 athletes have completed in the past 25 years, he is also working to raise $1,000 for every mile of the challenge – $281,000 total. The funds will translate into tuition assistance for students at Lake Country Lutheran High School in Hartland, Martin Luther High School in Greendale, and Milwaukee Lutheran High School – all part of the LHSAGM.
Braun aims to complete the race with a three-hour swim, a 15-hour bike ride and a 13-hour run.
While he’s confident that he has a good chance of finishing the Double Anvil, he said he won’t feel a sense of failure if he doesn’t complete the challenge. The most important takeaway – a message that he hopes to relay to his students – is the power of putting forth his very best effort.
“You can do a lot more than you think you can do if you just give it a shot,” he said.