Half Ironman celebrates 15 years in Benton Harbor

NOW: Half Ironman celebrates 15 years in Benton Harbor


For some, triathlons are a profession.

They’re a way of life.

For others it’s a second chance.

Not just a finish line, but a journey to find the sports ultimate meaning.

For Michiana native Paul Davis, Sunday’s 15th Annual Ironman Steelhead 70.3 in Benton Harbor is an opportunity at a new start and to re-gain what was once lost.

“Less than three years ago, I was two hundred and ten pounds. Felt terrible all the time. I missed five years of my life. And it became a prison. And until I could flip that switch again and turn it back on and do the things I knew I was capable of doing I was never going to escape it,” said Davis.

In his 20’s, the former Jimtown High School wrestler and football player, said he had a choice.

“That’s what it was for me when my son was born. I wanted to set an example for him. Because so many are so afraid of being uncomfortable. And running away from uncomfortable situations. Staying in their own safe space and that’s where I was at,” said Davis.

As a reward for this journey, Davis picked one of the world’s most challenging events: the Half Ironman in Benton Harbor.

On Sunday athletes of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds will travel 70.3 miles.

A one point two mile swim in Lake Michigan, followed by a 56 mile bike ride.

Then a 13.1 mile run.

All trying to finish under eight and a half hours.

Tom Zebart is the Operations Manager for Sunday’s race.

“it’s definitely a lifestyle. I’ve seen so many people that have changed their lives because of that goal that ironman goal of I want to do that. And they make the adjustments in their life to become ironman and that’s pretty cool,” said Zebart.

Mike Ryan has been the race director for all 15 years.

“Just to see some of the people. They are very serious about it. And there are a lot of people that it’s very hard for them. It’s a very challenging race. But it’s within reach. And this is the kind of race to get in to, to finish and say look I did an ironman and that’s what it’s all about.”

But for Davis, the finish line will be the start of something new.

A second chance at a life that eluded him for so long.

And no matter the time he finishes in Sunday, Davis will always be able to re-affirm to his children the lifetime reward will always outweigh the immediate result.

“Absolutely. My boys are too young to fully grasp what’s going on, but through videos or medals or whatever it may be, I can show them, look, here’s what dad did to show them to push them out of their comfort zone,” said Davis.

You can follow his journey HERE.

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