Jeff Brown and Judson Rowse competed in the 2017 Ironman event in Whistler on July 30. Brown completed the half distance in 7 hours and 27 minutes. Rowse completed the full distance in 11 hours and 43 minutes. (Matthew Allen / The Northern View)

Prince Rupert’s Ironmen

Jeff Brown and Judson Rowse will always push their limits

Jeff Brown and Judson Rowse describe themselves as ‘jump in the deep end of the pool’ kind of people. Neither man follows a strict plan per se. Rather, they prefer to take life as it comes one challenge at a time.

“I hate the word bucket list, I don’t have a bucket list, everything is spontaneous,” said Rowse. “I just wanna do stuff.”

To say that they do stuff is an understatement as both men have competed in triathlons, adventure runs and ultramarathons over the past 15 years.

Both men recently competed in Canada’s Ironman event in Whistler on July 30. Rowse, Prince Rupert born and bred, completed the full race in 11 hours and 43 minutes while Brown, who moved to Prince Rupert in 1998, finished the half Ironman in 7 hours and 27 minutes. This was Rowse’s first full distance Ironman race. This was Brown’s third Ironman event, and he has completed two others in 2014 and 2015.

For most people, completing a single Ironman is a singular event in their lives. The full event consists of a 3.86 kilometre swim, a 180.25 kilometre bike ride and a 42.16 kilometre run in order without a break. The Ironman race is the highest level of triathlon competition and one of the most grueling tests of an athlete’s physical and mental endurance. It’s a lifetime achievement, the culmination of planning, training, determination and discipline.

But while both men prepared for the race, they described it as another challenge that they wanted to conquer rather than a life goal they wanted to check off their achievement lists. Neither man considers themselves to be overly athletic. In fact, both Brown and Rowse learned propper swimming technique only months before taking part in their first races.

“Jeff was sending me videos from total immersion on YouTube,” Rowse said.

Brown said he was inspired to train for an Ironman race after years of watching Rowse and other friends doing adventure races. In 2003, he cheered them on as they competed in an event called “Raid the North”, a multiple day wilderness race where teams paddle, mountain bike, swim and raft through a series of checkpoints over a distance of around 130 – 150 kilometres.

“I was so stoked on that and I figured that I wanted to do something like that one day,” Brown said.

Ten-years-later in 2013, Brown watched as his brother compete in the Whistler Ironman race. He said he went and signed up the next day to compete.

“When my brother did it, my mother didn’t even watch because she figured he’d be having heart attack or crawling across the finish line,” he said. “I went there and cheered him on, and it was an awesome day.”

In 2014, Brown competed in his first Ironman. In 2015, he and his brother did a race together in what he says were brutal conditions.

“It was nine degrees and there was pouring rain and snow on the mountain,” he said. “The pros were dropping out with hypothermia, it was brutal.”

Both Brown and Rowse say the competition and participation is the most rewarding part of the races they take part in as both have gotten to compete against high level Ironman athletes in their races. Brown recalled seeing triathlon professional Marino Vanhoenacker pedalling up the mountain at the same speed he coasted down it.

“It’s pretty cool because you get to be out on the course with professional athletes who are some of the fittest people on earth,” he said. “It can’t think of any other sport where you can do that.”

Rowse said there is no other context where you might compete against professionals the way they do in the Ironman race.

“You can’t just go run with Usain Bolt or play hockey with an NHLer,” he said.

Neither man plans on slowing down any time soon. Rowse says he plans to compete in an ultramarathon in September, and already has his eye set on an adventure race called Sea-to-Sky which combines skiing, running, bike riding and paddling.”

“That just sounds like an awesome day,” he said.

Brown said he wants to heal up from this most recent event, and then get back to training before seeing what happens next. At this point, he said he just enjoy the challenge of staying in shape.

“I like the idea of having a challenge out there and having a reason to stay in shape and stay fit,” he said.

Rowse agreed, saying no matter what the next thing is, both men will just “put their heads down and get on with it.”

“We work and then play hard,” he said.