When Hy-Vee CEO Ric Jurgens first envisioned a triathlon that would be the sport’s answer to the Masters Golf Tournament, he knew there would be big crowds, record purses and national media coverage.
But it was people like Jason Paul he had in mind.
Weight: 333 pounds. Blood pressure: red zone. Jason, produce manager at the Newton Hy-Vee had just turned 30.
“I tried every diet. Nothing worked,” he says.
Jason underwent a gastric bypass, shed 100 pounds, and started a workout regimen. But surgeries on both feet derailed his dream to compete in the inaugural Hy-Vee Triathlon in 2007. He settled for the swimming leg on an employee relay team but vowed to one day cross the finish line himself.
Since then he has sacrificed sleep for pre-dawn workouts and drawn inspiration from his brother Jeff, a professional triathlete who maintains a training blog that Jason reads every Sunday to stay on course.
He tested his mettle at a small triathlon last summer, “even though I hadn’t been on a bike since I was a little kid.”
“My goal was to not finish last,” he says. “I knew it was going to be a struggle, and it was. But I wasn’t last.”
His sights are now set on June 13.
“I couldn't be more proud,” says Jeff, who’ll be there to cheer on his brother. “Triathlon is about a personal journey. It’s not about where you finish, only that you stay the course.”