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Taylorsville Journal

Taylorsville High grad covers 70+ miles, swimming, biking and running

Mar 04, 2024 12:15PM ● By Carl Fauver

More than 70 miles after he started swimming, biking and running, Taylorsville High School graduate Greg Radcliffe approaches the finish line at the Ironman race in St. George. (Courtesy Greg Radcliffe)

There are athletes like Patrick Mahomes and Steph Curry who earn millions upon millions of dollars every year to compete.

Then there are athletes like Taylorsville High School graduate Greg Radcliffe. They pay their own way… compete for the pure challenge and joy of it… and have to adjust their schedules for, well, life.

“I finished one Ironman race – and plan to enter another,” the Murray resident said. “But I had to sell my racing bike to pay for some truck repairs. So, now I’m saving and shopping for a little better bike.”

By the way, his $2,500 bicycle was about the only piece of Ironman equipment Radcliffe had to pay full price for. The Utah County-based (and world renowned) Fezzari Bicycles company had to custom-build his streamline 2-wheeler to fit his 6’4” frame. For all of his other race equipment – such as a wetsuit and shoes (one pair for pedaling, another for running) – Greg shopped for used items and online sales.

In fact, everything else Radcliffe needed to become a fully-outfitted Ironman racer, combined, cost him less than the race entry fee, which was “about $400.”

Last spring, Radcliffe, 39, competed in the “Intermountain Health Ironman 70.3 North American Championship” in and around St. George. The “70.3” is miles: 1.2 miles in the water… 56 aboard his full-price Fezzari bike… and then a “half marathon” 13.1 miles in his “more affordable” running shoes.

Those in the know call this grueling distance a “half Ironman.” The full Ironman race is double each of these distances.

Greg Radcliffe has always enjoyed exercise and physical activity, going back to before he graduated from Taylorsville High in 2003.

“I was never on any of the high school teams; but my friends and I played pickup basketball games all the time,” he said. “I’ve just always enjoyed being physically active. During the pandemic, I created a gym – with several workout stations – in my garage.”

Being in tune with exercise and athletic endeavors is also central to Radcliffe’s career. Since 2010, he’s worked as a physical therapist assistant for Intermountain Home Care & Hospice.

“I make 30 to 40 home health care visits every week,” Radcliffe said. “More than 90% of the people I work with are in the geriatric population. It’s more than a full-time job. So finding exercise time can be a little tricky. As I was getting closer to the Ironman race, there were times when a physical therapy appointment would cancel, so I would sneak in a quick 45-minute workout. I just had to find training time when I could.” 

Again, these are not challenges shared by a Kansas City Chiefs quarterback or a Golden State Warriors 3-point shooter.

Radcliffe admits, despite his lifelong love of physical activity, he had never really given any thought to competing in a 70+ mile Ironman race until just a year and a half before he entered one.

“I had run Spartan races before, which are basically long-distance, mountain running trails with obstacles,” he said. “Then, in October 2021 my wife and I took our kids to St. George for their fall break. We knew the Ironman was being held that weekend – and it turned out the runners were passing right by the condos where we were staying. My daughter and I walked down to watch for a while… and when I saw the times some of them were getting, I thought ‘I could do that.’ I pretty much decided right at that moment I wanted to try an Ironman race.”

That’s what Radcliffe was thinking when he returned to their condo from the race route. That’s where he first ran the idea past his wife, Tiffany, a 2004 Murray High School graduate.

“He is so stubborn; the minute he mentioned the Ironman race I knew it was going to happen,” Tiffany Radcliffe said. “When Greg puts his mind to something, it gets done.” 

If this was a “Rocky” movie, about now is when the training montage would roll. Radcliffe spent the next year-and-a-half doing a combination of researching exercise tips online… rounding up as many equipment discount prices as possible… and working his body as hard as he ever had. The Park Center recreational facility inside Murray Park was central to his effort.

“My biggest fear going into the Ironman was swimming,” Radcliffe said. “I had done lots of running and mountain biking; but I had never really been a strong swimmer. I had never done any open water swimming in a reservoir. I remember swimming laps at the (Park) center at the same time the Murray High School swim teams were working out. They would go flying by in the lane next to me. But I stuck with it, and slowly improved.”

It was just two weeks before his Ironman race when Radcliffe completed his one and only open water training swim. 

“I went out to Tooele County to practice swim in the lake at Stansbury Park,” he said. “It was hard to keep track of what direction I was going. I ended up swimming in a bit of a zigzag pattern. But I knew I would have other racers to follow during the Ironman. I felt pretty prepared.”

Radcliffe remained in that confident frame of mind as his family made their way down to St. George for the race last May. And he still felt good about his prospects when he jumped into his car to go catch the Ironman shuttle bus out to Sand Hollow State Park (and reservoir) near Hurricane.

“I had to leave the condo by 4:30 in the morning, so no one tagged along with me to watch the swim part of the race,” he said. “My daughter and I had dropped my bike off at the reservoir the day before. That morning, I jammed to music to get pumped up. I felt ready to go.” 

Radcliffe’s family was able to track his every move through an Ironman app, so they knew when he was safely moving through and out of the water. Tiffany was there when her husband made the next transition from riding to running. And his whole family entourage was at the St. George finish line to cheer him on.

“I was so proud of him,” Greg’s daughter Paisley said. “It looked like he had fun. I think one day I would like to do something like that.”

For the record, Radcliffe swam 1.2 miles in 43:21 minutes… cycled 56 miles in 3:01:06 (“My goal was to be under three hours – so I came close”) …and ran the 13.1-mile half marathon in 2:03:47. Adding in his brief transition times, Radcliffe’s overall race time was 6:02:17.

“I felt great finishing; I was not completely wasted like I thought I might be,” Radcliffe concluded. “I felt it went well. I was happy with my time. Lots of people had given me advice to enjoy it – to be in the moment. That’s what I tried to do. I took it all in. I didn’t have any cramps or blisters. My biggest mishap was dropping my water bottle while riding my bike. I had to go back to pick it up. But I feel like I prepared well and the race went fine.”

Radcliffe isn’t sure when he might enter his second Ironman. He has to get a new bike, remember (darn broken trucks). But the Taylorsville High graduate does expect to be back in his swimming wetsuit at 7 a.m. on a reservoir shore sometime in the future. λ

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