Meet seven Colorado athletes whose superhuman training programs and otherworldly self-control over their diets allow them to push their bodies to extremes—all for a shot at being the very best.

August 2013

Craig Alexander
Professional Triathlete
Age: 40
Height: 5 feet 11 inches
Weight: 150 pounds
Average weekly training hours in season: 45
Hometown in Colorado: Boulder

Craig Alexander logs enough miles each week—an average of 12 swimming, 65 running, and 310 cycling—to cross the state of Colorado north to south. The grueling sessions are a requirement if he wants to maintain his winning streak: The triathlete is a three-time Ironman World Championship winner (and one of only a handful of men to clinch back-to-back wins, in ’08 and ’09), a two-time Ironman 70.3 World Championship winner, and the record-holder (8:03:56, set in 2011) for the Ironman Hawaii course. ◗ Alexander’s been competing in triathlons for almost 20 years, and he believes good biomechanics—his body’s natural ability to avoid injury in sports that require repetitive motion—is what has helped him ascend the podium more times than most. As a physiotherapy student at the University of Sydney, Alexander gained a profound understanding of the human body—an expertise that’s made him his own best coach. One method to his success: studying the course and his competitors before a race. He also carefully calculates his necessary liquid and calorie intake for any competition, which, during Ironmans, usually adds up to about a liter of fluid per hour and 250 to 280 calories from electrolyte drinks. He typically doesn’t eat anything solid until after he crosses the finish line. ◗ Unlike most sports, in which anyone over the age of 28 is considered past his or her prime, Alexander says his “engine” has gotten stronger with time. His goal at age 40 is no different from when he was 21: “It’s not about the results,” he says. “It’s about improving as
an athlete.”