Each year, as Jan. 1 approaches, people tend to take a personal inventory and dream of what they could accomplish and the barriers they could overcome in the new year.
Hamburg’s Bruce Daniels has been running past barriers with Ironman triathlon success for a number of years now.
And, during September of this year, he earned the title of national champion for an event down in Oklahoma.
A committed runner, Daniels got bored about seven years ago and decided he wanted more.
“I turned 55. I wanted to do an Ironman,” Daniels said.
He had watched the World Championships for the event down in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i  on television.
The Ironman event tests the limits of competitors with a three-phase race that consists of swimming, biking and running portions.
Daniels said when he first got the idea of doing an Ironman, he  didn’t even know how to swim, so that was the first obstacle to overcome.
After deciding he wanted to do an Ironman, however, Daniels said there was much work still to do.
First, he learned from the best by hiring a six-time world champion to help him train.
The training and commitment resulted in adjustment and success.
He competed in his first full Ironman event and pulled down a 13th place finish for his age division, so he adjusted to doing half Ironmans and qualified for the World Championship twice at that distance. His World Championship experiences came in 2012 and 2013 in Las Vegas, Nev., with a top finish of 13th in the world.
Daniels stuck with the half distance races until 2018 and then decided he would take another shot at a full race.
He saw that there was going to be an event down in Oklahoma in September of 2018.
Although the Oklahoma event is not labeled as an Ironman, for branding reasons, it is the same race in every other way.
The USA Triathlon Ultra-Distance National Championships in Oklahoma City had racers set to compete in a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run.
Despite adversity, Daniels won the 60-64 age group with a time of 13 hours, 22 minutes, and five seconds.
What was that adversity?
It came mainly from the swim portion. Due to miscalculations, the swim turned out to be a three mile distance, as opposed to the 2.4 originally planned. That threw off everyone’s race plan, which includes nutritional supplementation, so racers can keep competing.
Although the races are a test of determination and physical ability, Daniels said the races are also a product of intricate planning.
Those who would like to run these kind of races need to remember that a structured training plan of months is not optional.
Daniels said he began training for the nationals six months before the race. His bike rides early in the training were two hours. Those grew to seven hour rides before pre-race tapering to assure maximum energy for the event.
And that’s just the bike training.
There were intense swimming and running training sessions throughout his push to nationals as well.
Daniels said he already has his sights set on an event for 2019, a half distance competition down in Kansas.
Although the race is cut in half, the training stays, in many ways, the same.
Daniels said he’ll begin preparations for the Kansas race early in 2019 in order to be ready.
When you get ready for a half distance event, Daniels said, you really only lack a few hours of training in the grand scheme in order to be ready for a full distance competition.
It’s almost like a full time job. Very intense. Very consuming.
And very impossible without the right support.
That’s where Bruce’s wife of 45 years, Pam, comes into the picture.
She supports the idea of the Ironman competition even though it can be an expensive venture, with money spent on training and equipment.
Beyond approving of the cost, Bruce said Pam acts as his No. 1 supporter, cheerleader and helper. She reminds him of things essential to the race and makes sure he eats right.
Having a place to train has been hugely important as well.
Daniels works out where he works—the Ambassador Wellness Center in Nebraska City.
Without the pool at that facility, Daniels said  getting ready for the swim portion of his races would be very difficult.
“The Ambassador was a big part of my success down in Oklahoma City,” Daniels said.
Originally thought of as a race that might not even be physically possible, the Ironman has become a popular sport with events throughout the year and around the world.
It’s challenges push boundaries and create experiences for athletes.
Daniels said he admires all who complete  in the races, even those who might not be pros or those who might not even be all that competitive.
To race, you have to pay a price in misery.
There are cut offs for getting through each portion of the race with the ultimate cut off for the whole event being 17 hours.
For those who struggle over the course of 17 hours, Daniels said he has the utmost respect.
Pros might be on the course for eight to nine hours. For those who can’t get it done in that time, the challenge continues.
“Those people are suffering just as much as the pros. They’re just doing it for a lot longer,” Daniels said.
The fact that people do these races is inspirational, even for those who don’t race, run or work out.
By competing, the racers prove something.
With the right plan and preparation, it would seem that barriers can be overcome.
In a new year, that’s the encouragement all of us are looking for.

The Champs
Sixteen national champions were crowned in age divisions for both genders ranging from 20-24 all the way up to 65-69 at the USA Triathlon Ultra-Distance National Championships in Oklahoma City.
The overall champions for male and female were Seth Cooke (Tyler, Texas), 9:12:04; and Gina Hendrickson (Edmond, Okla.), 10:50:58.

Types of Triathlons

Sprint Triathlon—750 meter (0.465 mile) swim / 20 kilometer (12.5 mi) bike / 5 km (3.1 mi) run

Standard or Olympic Triathlon—1.5 kilometer (0.93 mile) swim / 40km (25 mi) bike / 10 km (6.2 mi) run

Half-Ironman or 70.3 Triathlon—1.9 kilometer (1.2 mile) swim / 90 km (56 mi) bike / 21.1 km (13.1 mi) run

Ironman Triathlon—3.8 kilometer (2.4 mile) swim / 180.2 km (112 mi) bike / 42.2 km (26.2 mi) run

The Ironman World Championship has been held annually in Hawaii since 1978, with an additional race in 1982. It is owned and organized by the World Triathlon Corporation. It is the annual culmination of a series of Ironman triathlon qualification races held throughout the world.