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Against the Odds
Cover of Against the Odds
Against the Odds
The Adventures of a Man in His Sixties Competing in Six of the World's Toughest Triathlons across Six Continents

Completing a triathlon at any age is a major achievement; finishing an IRONMAN®
Triathlon in your sixties is nothing short of inspirational. A true account of John Pendergrass' impossible goal of completing six IRONMAN Triathlons on six continents, all while in his sixties, Against the Odds will shatter your preconceptions of what a man in his golden years can accomplish.

For most people, their sixties are a time to slow down, take things easy, and reflect on a life well lived. Not for Pendergrass. As his sixtieth birthday loomed, he longed for a challenge that would push him to his limits and drive him to achieve something that few people had ever done before.

Pendergrass found his answer in the IRONMAN Triathlon, the world's most difficult endurance event: an intimidating 2.4 mile swim in open water, a grueling 112 mile bike ride, and an exhausting 26.2 mile run--all in the same day. A total of 140.6 miles, nonstop... a monumental task for men half his age.

Against the Odds follows Pendergrass through each arduous step as he struggles against time, doubt, and his own physical limitations to arrive tired, but victorious at the finish line. From the deserts of Arizona to the bush of South Africa, from the beaches of Brazil to the coasts of New Zealand, this journey chronicles not only the races themselves, but also the breathtaking countries that host them. Told with modesty and humor, Against the Odds is a story of impressive drive and incredible courage that will inspire you to new heights many could only dream of reaching.

Completing a triathlon at any age is a major achievement; finishing an IRONMAN®
Triathlon in your sixties is nothing short of inspirational. A true account of John Pendergrass' impossible goal of completing six IRONMAN Triathlons on six continents, all while in his sixties, Against the Odds will shatter your preconceptions of what a man in his golden years can accomplish.

For most people, their sixties are a time to slow down, take things easy, and reflect on a life well lived. Not for Pendergrass. As his sixtieth birthday loomed, he longed for a challenge that would push him to his limits and drive him to achieve something that few people had ever done before.

Pendergrass found his answer in the IRONMAN Triathlon, the world's most difficult endurance event: an intimidating 2.4 mile swim in open water, a grueling 112 mile bike ride, and an exhausting 26.2 mile run--all in the same day. A total of 140.6 miles, nonstop... a monumental task for men half his age.

Against the Odds follows Pendergrass through each arduous step as he struggles against time, doubt, and his own physical limitations to arrive tired, but victorious at the finish line. From the deserts of Arizona to the bush of South Africa, from the beaches of Brazil to the coasts of New Zealand, this journey chronicles not only the races themselves, but also the breathtaking countries that host them. Told with modesty and humor, Against the Odds is a story of impressive drive and incredible courage that will inspire you to new heights many could only dream of reaching.

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Excerpts-
  • Excerpt from Chapter 7 Excerpt from Chapter 7

    [...] Race morning finally arrives. The hurricane-like winds that I experienced on arrival are a distant memory. The weather is great, temperature in the mid-50s, low humidity, just a little breeze. It seems like I landed in Brazil years ago but it has only been three days.

    It's a solemn group in the men's changing tent. Everyone has finished their pre-race preparation. Most have slipped into their wetsuit and are waiting for the start. Nobody is laughing or smiling, many look worse than me.

    There is no doubt a very difficult day is in store. There will be pain and suffering in varying amounts for absolutely everyone. No one gets a pass in an IRONMAN® Triathlon.

    I spend much of this time praying to the Lord to help me survive and finish. My faith is plain and unsophisticated, I'm not above bargaining. If He wants me to drop those long Sunday morning runs and start spending more time in church I'll do it. If the money for my new running shoes needs to go in the collection plate, so be it. I'm very open to divine intervention.

    It's going to be a long day and I need all the help I can get. "Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

    The swim course is made up of two laps separated by a short run on the beach. Each lap is supposed to be rectangular in shape but it's really hard to tell. The buoys are small and not in a straight line, making them difficult to follow. I decide to stay in a crowd; I feel as long as there are a lot of swimmers around me, I should be okay.

    More than 1,000 athletes are off at the sound of the gun. I wait near the back of the pack and soon find a comfortable spot. The swimming is easy, this is the first event and I've had lots of rest in the last few weeks, so I have no reason to be tired. Soon, the butterflies are gone; this is the best I've felt since I arrived in Brazil.

    The location of the buoys still has me a little confused so I choose the longest route to make sure that I don't cut the course. I'm not taking any chances. I've been behind the curve since the day I arrived. I'm afraid of making a mistake.

    The first lap is done in around 52 minutes. I had hoped to be a little faster but I'm glad I still feel fresh. I'm about to start the second lap when the two race leaders emerge. They have completed two laps in the time it took me to finish one. These Big Guys strip off their wetsuits in no time at all and vanish up the beach. I wobble on unsteady legs before heading back into the water.

    My second lap, not surprisingly, is worse than the first. A strong cross current develops and keeps pushing me laterally. If I want to reach a buoy straight ahead at the 12 o'clock position, I have to swim in the 2 o'clock direction. It becomes a chore to keep swimming in a straight line. I find I'm trying harder but going slower.

    I'm delighted to see solid ground when I finally finish at 1 hour, 56 minutes. This has been a pretty hard swim and quite a few people missed the 2 hour 20 minute cutoff time and had to drop out of the race.

    Soon I'm out on the bike, aiming to stay out of trouble. I've still got flat tires floating in my brain. It's hard to believe that less than 24 hours ago I wasn't even sure that I would have a bike to ride. Now I'm riding smoothly, almost on cruise control.

    This leg of the race takes forever, sometimes even longer if you have a flat tire. Each of the two laps has three nice hills going out, a tour of downtown Florianópolis, and then the same three hills coming back. It's late morning on a pleasant Saturday in May, and many ...

About the Author-
  • John Pendergrass is an ophthalmologist who lives and practices in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He has currently finished more that 50 triathlons and continues to seek out new races and new challenges, big and small.

Reviews-
  • Brett Favre, former Super Bowl champion NFL quarterback

    "Against the Odds is a remarkable story, a tale of courage and perseverance told with humor and honesty. There must be thousands of athletes who have finished an IRONMAN® race faster than John Pendergrass, but there can't be very many who have had as interesting a journey."

  • Don Mann, author of The Complete Guide to Adventure Racing and Director of the Eastern Shore 140 Ultra Triathlon "In Against the Odds, John Pendergrass describes in vivid detail what it is like to mentally and physically train for an IRONMAN® Triathlon. John decided to compete in the sport after he reached his sixties and went on to compete in six IRONMAN Triathlons on six different continents. John's story is as inspirational as it is compelling. John is not only admired for his super human feats and accomplishments in the sport but also for his contribution to this great sport with this book"
  • Jordan Rapp, champion triathlete and Chief Technology Officer at Slowtwitch.com "Against the Odds is an easy read with so much self-deprecation and humor that you can easily lose sight of the fact that it's a story of remarkable achievement. Six IRONMAN® Triathlons on six continents after discovering triathlon in your sixties? That's amazing. But the biggest takeaway from Pendergrass' book is just how much fun it was for him. He never takes himself too seriously, a refreshing change in the triathlon world, and it's easy to imagine him being an unintentional hero for those who simply wondered what was possible, even if there were some moments when it seemed like simply getting up out of a recliner was a bit too much to ask."
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Against the Odds
Against the Odds
The Adventures of a Man in His Sixties Competing in Six of the World's Toughest Triathlons across Six Continents
John L. Pendergrass
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