PPBA Coach Darren Wald Completes Two Ironman Triathlons in Two Days
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Most of us can only dream about finishing an Ironman Triathlon. After all, the discipline, strength and stamina needed to train for a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2-mile run is not for the faint of heart.
For Darren Wald, however, one Ironman was not a big enough challenge. No, he did two back-to-back—a “Double Ironman” if you will—a superhuman feat almost unheard of by mere mortals.
In preparation for what was to come he did a 10-mile ocean swim from Lanai to Maui in which he ecountered a shark and was stung by jellyfish. Fast forward several weeks to August 17 and he was in Sweden for Ironman Kalmar, where he completed the 140-mile event in a tad over 10 hours. Upon finishing, he hopped in an RV and drove across the border into Denmark for Ironman Copenhagen, which he completed in just under 11 hours. In all, Wald stroked, pedaled and legged a distance of 280 miles in less than 36 hours.
What was his motivation?
“Having three kids and a full-time job, life becomes somewhat predictable,” the 48-year-old financial advisor from the Alphabet Streets said in an interview on TMZ Live. “There is a sense after awhile of a little bit of Groundhog Day. Where do you get the chance to really live, to really test the limits of the human spirit? That’s kind of what I was trying to do. I’d done Ironmans in the past, I never felt after one of those ‘Hey, I’d like to do another Ironman. So the question was could I do it? And I didn’t know. There was fear and certainly some reservations as to whether it was even possible. So when I finished Saturday in Sweden I said let’s just find a way to get myself to Copenhagen and see if we can get in the water and find out what happens. I was swimming in the Baltic in Copenhagen on no sleep all week, I was probably undernourished at some point, I was cold and there was that sense of trying not to panic, just get through this one stroke at a time and stay focused. There was exhilaration and goose bumps and holding back tears. You set this goal, it’s achievable, it’s all within reach and you don’t get this opportunity in life anymore.”
Wald, who has coached in the Pacific Palisades Baseball Association for seven years and is also an active board member, credits fellow Palisadian Adrian Maizey for flying to Copenhagen to race with him and lend his support, saying: “I’m not sure I could have done it without him.”
Baseball is another of Wald’s passions and two summers ago he founded Pali Riptide, a youth instructional program for players ages 5-13 that runs from August through Thanksgiving. One of the local participants is Wald’s youngest son, Ryder.
“It’s a great community-based program and the players are really loving it,” said Wald, who coached his son Kellen’s Bronco Dodgers team in the spring. “Our mission is to offer kids solid fundamentals and preparation for the upcoming PPBA season. We’re not officially affiliated or competing with our local Pony league, we just want to offer the community an offseason option to enhance the kids’ skills and knowledge of the game.”
In all, Wald has raced nine Ironmans and he’ll add a 10th to his resume September 28 in Cambridge, Maryland. His first was in 2008 in Arizona. Before his recent doubled he had not raced one in six years and he has yet to win, so perhaps that will be his next goal.
“I don’t think that you always need to chase a high, I do this stuff for myself,” Wald added. “I enjoy training, so it’s something I do for passion, but there are other goals out there, other things to do. My kids and my family are my priority but when those windows open up for me to take time away from my family and do something I’m excited to go out and try it and see what I’m capable of.”