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James Lawrence - 21 Ironman 70.3's to Build Dams in Kenya

triandgiveadamHow about swimming, biking, running and racing 21 Ironman 70.3 events for a cause like building Dam's in Kenya. That's what James Lawrence (@TriAndGiveADam) of Utah is doing this year with his TriAndGiveaDam fundraising effort and this is only the initial step in his three year plan.

"I'm already signed up for ALL of these races, and I am excited! Water shortage is a global issue and a growing concern. My goal is to reverse the ravaging effects of the drought in Africa, through my passion: triathlons! I am accepting pledges for In Our Own Quiet Way, a 501(C)3 organization that is building dams in Kenya to retain rainfall. Quiet Way's "Give a Dam" project is an innovative, self-sustaining program, and you can be a part of it."

triandgiveadamKambuSandDam.jpgJames is a true entrepreneur and dedicates time to raising funds and awareness for In Our Own Quiet Way. For the "Give a Dam" Project - Quiet Way is working with the Kenyan government and Kenyan engineers to build approximately 1,000 water retention systems throughout Northern Kenya to relieve drought. Each dam costs approximately between $10,000 and $15,000 to complete ($1,000,000-$1,500,000 total). The first two dams have been built, and began filling with water in November, 2009.

This is no ordinary feat for the father of 5 kids. Just last weekend James did back-to-back Ironman 70.3 races in Benton Harbor, Michigan and Calgary, Alberta putting him halfway past his challenge. This weekend he will be participating in his 13th Ironman 70.3 race on the schedule at the inaugural Ironman 70.3 Boulder race in Boulder, Colorado. His future races include Lake Stevens, Timberman, Muskoka, Branson, Augusta, Austin, Miami, Clearwater and Kona.

We caught up with James after his back-to-back weekend and have a chance to ask him some questions:

The saying goes "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?", so can you tell us how this idea came about? What's your connection to this cause in Kenya?

I was helping in Quiet Way and was tired of the normal fund raising attempts and wanted to really expose their Give a Dam project. I wanted to do something fun and creative to help expose this huge need. I have a huge passion for triathlon and found that the Ironman platform is pretty big and world wide. I had always wanted to do something big that made a difference. I wanted to leave my mark and this seemed to be a perfect fit. I came up with the idea on a long training ride. This is where I do most of my thinking. The idea was born and I tossed it around to a few friends. Some told me it was an awesome idea and others told me that I would never be able to pull it off. Both fueled me and here I stand today.

You are married and have 5 children, so how did you talk your wife into letting you do this?

I didn't have to talk her into anything. She pushed me to do it. She is an unbelievable support to me and loves that fact that I am trying to challenge myself and try to help others around the world. She is an incredible mother and supports me 100%. We both believe in doing what makes us happy. I would do the same for her and support her 100% if she wanted to do something similar. I actually think she has the harder task of being a full time mother. She also is an athlete and is training to do several of the full Ironman events with me in 2012. I love and spend a lot of time with my 5 kids. They get into my racing and always ask how I did and want to see my medals. I would not be able to do this without the love and support of my family.

jameslawrence.jpgDoing an Ironman 70.3 race isn't bad, but doing 21 isn't cheap, especially when you start adding up the related travel expenses. How are you funding this endeavor to raise money for Dams in Kenya?

First I would like to say that 100% of funds gathered get passed onto Quiet Way and the Give a Dam project. No donor is funding my filthy habits and quest to break this world record. Sponsor and personal funds have got me to this point so far. I lost my job in this tough economy and funds are about gone. I have had some very nice friends and strangers get my flights with airmiles. One of my biggest expenses has been bike check fees. What a pain in my ass and an account drainer! I am currently looking for a title sponsor who will take me on as an athlete so that I can continue over the next few years and really get some big time exposure for the cause and sponsors. I could not have made it to this point without some key sponsors, Muscle Works, MyoMed, DUB Nutrition, Aquaphor and Ellsworth bikes to name a few. My coach Keena has also been a huge help and support system for me.

As of late, you have been racing back to back weekends, how do you recover and train? How does a trip to the 2010 Ironman World Championship fit into all of this?

I honestly can't tell you how I am doing this. I get that question a lot. My boy Hayden at Muscle Works spends some quality time on my legs making sure I am up and ready to go each and every weekend. I am on some wonderful supplements by DUB Nutrition, Hornet Juice and ASEA. I don't think I would be able to do this without them. I also have worked really hard to get my body to the shape it is now. My coach has been a huge part of this project making sure I am training and doing the right things. I also think I am blessed with a healthy body and a very strong mind. I hope to put to rest some of the recovery myths out there;)

The trip to worlds was super unexpected and I am very excited to go. This pushes me over the world record. Who would have thought that I would be getting faster as I progress through the year. I won't contend at the championships but you can be sure of one thing - It will be a good time!

You qualified for the Ironman World Championship 70.3 race in Clearwater which is an accomplishment in itself what else have you accomplished or experience and/or what else have you learned about yourself in doing all of these races so far?

This has been a blast of a project. I have learned so much to date. So much about my family, friends and support systems. So much about myself and my abilities. I have learned that the mind is an amazing tool. I have a greater appreciation for my family. I have a greater appreciation for water and the access we have to it. This experience has been priceless and I hope to continue to learn and grow over the next few years. I want to impact and touch the lives of thousands of people.

So far you've raced a variety of races around North America. Can you shed some light on your top 3 races so far, based on the course or your race experience there?

Top three races would have to be:

1- Calgary. This is my home town and the course is just beautiful. There is also something to be said about having your friends and family there.
2- Honu. The electricity there was insane. I loved the energy there and can't wait to go race in Kona one day again but next time it will be for the Full Ironman!
3- Steelhead. This is a fun course because it was VERY fast and I posted a personal best there of 4:39

You can support James and/or his cause by donating air miles for his travel to events or my donating money to the cause of building dams in Kenya. Visit www.triandgiveadam.com or contacting James at james@quietway.org.

We wish him the best on his challenge and will continue to bring you up-to-date with his progress along the way this year or with his future challenges.