Bradley likes to push himself to the extreme
The Maui Channel Swim – from the old Club Lanai pier to Kaanapali – has an annual place in organized competition.
So, too, does bicycle racing to the Haleakala summit – the Cycle to the Sun takes riders from Paia to an elevation of more than 10,000 feet.
A circumnavigation of the Valley Isle on foot is something else entirely, without a spot on traditional athletic calendars.
Combining all three endurance challenges – with plenty of extra time on the bike thrown in – seems to justify the label applied by the man who took on the task: “The World’s Most Extreme Triathlon.”
Bill Bradley, a 53-year-old from Santa Rosa, Calif., reported completing the course at 3 a.m. Tuesday, with times of 6 hours, 5 minutes for the approximately 10 miles of ocean swim, 63:15 for 300 miles of cycling and 87:15 for a run of about 120 miles that started and finished in Kula.
Tuesday afternoon, sore but still quick with a laugh, Bradley said it wasn’t his arms, legs, feet or torso that he needed the most.
“Your mind is like a muscle, that’s what I’ve found,” he said. “You just slowly can build the mind up just like you would any muscle in your body. Only so many guys can throw a fastball a hundred miles an hour, jump so high to dunk. But anybody can develop their mind.”
That’s not to say there wasn’t a physical toll. Bradley described the journey while seated on a couch in his Kihei condominium unit, much of the time with his feet propped on a coffee table. He developed a blister on his foot with more than 100 miles left in the run, and said he slept for about two hours per day after starting the swim on Oct. 29.
“My mind did it – but it really, really hurt,” he said.
“You just can’t wrap your brain around two or three days of this,” he said of the run in particular. “We started just going for mile goals. Get the van up there a mile. We’ll just go for a mile, we’ll just go for a mile. So just in my head, I’m thinking, ‘I’ve just got to make it a mile. I’ve just got to make it a mile. I’ve just got to make it a mile.’ And I can’t afford to think that I have 100 more miles to go with this amount of pain.”
Bradley also credited his crew – chief Mariko Pitts, along with Sarah and David Gerber, Brian Finley, Danny Westergaard and Cliff Stroke.
“Everybody’s out there hooting and hollering,” Bradley said. “There’s no way you’re going to quit. You’re just not.”
Pitts said the team encountered a good deal of aloha spirit along the way, including help with a van battery that had run out of power, and many people simply inquiring about what Bradley was doing.
“I’ve never experienced that many locals just stopping to see what was up,” she said.
Bradley has taken on extreme events before. In May, he announced running seven rim-to-rim laps in the Grand Canyon – more than 160 miles – in just under six days. Also on his resume are a 16-day completion of the Race Across America – 3,000 miles of cycling from California to Maryland – and two finishes in the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon in California, from Death Valley to Mount Whitney, which bills itself as “The World’s Toughest Foot Race.”
Bradley also works as a motivational speaker, and says he is eager to inspire others. His core message is a basic one.
“Go out of your comfort zone,” he said.
“I think that’s what life’s about,” he added. “I think people who sit in their comfort zones too much are bored. I mean, they’re bored with life.”
* Brad Sherman is at email@example.com