Photographed on location during the 2014 Ironman Texas, this personal project depicts the end of one athletes journey to become an ironman. 

Before you can finish, you must start.

You can keep going & your legs might hurt for a week or you can quit & your mind will hurt for a lifetime.
— Mark Allen, 6-Time Ironman World Champion

The alarm goes off at 4 AM, waking amateur triathlete, Jason Blakely. It’s race day on his first ever Ironman, a grueling 140.6 mile endurance test that requires athletes to swim & bike ungodly distances before running a marathon. As rude as a 4 AM wakeup call can be, it might be the most polite challenge he faces this day.

In just a few short hours, the cannon will go off at the starting line. But for Jason & the 2800 other competitors in Memorial Herman Ironman Texas 2014, this isn’t a start; it is an end.

For most, training began 9 months prior, when there were no crowds in Team Blakely t-shirts. The journey to the starting line took them through many rude, early morning rides, cold winter swims and lonely mental deserts as they pounded out countless miles on foot. For Jason and his training partner Zack Mitchell this “start” comes with 3,800 miles of training preamble.

Sadly, they don’t give you a medal for showing up at the starting line. They don’t say, “Jason Blakely, you are an ironman,” just because you started the work. You have to finish the race set before. You have to endure on the day that counts most. 

But before you can finish — and this is really just a metaphor for anything — you must start. You must decide that you will endure & then you can live the encouraging words of business man, Harvey Mackay:

"A great accomplishment shouldn't be the end of the road, just the starting point for the next leap forward.”

The beautiful thing about Ironman, I learned, is that it does not matter if you finished eight hours after the canon announced the start of the race or one second before the lights went out at midnight. If you cross the finish line in the time allowed, you begin life as an ironman.

And that’s not a bad way to finish.

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