“I’m Proud Of My Body Because…”

We set up a photo tent at this year’s Ironman 70.3 Oceanside to capture racers just after they crossed the finish line. In that special moment of elation and exhaustion, athletes completed the sentence above—and surprised us with their candor, humor and thoughtfulness. Most of all, they showed the power of triathlon to make us treasure our bodies for the extraordinary things they let us do, like covering 70.3 miles under our own power.

Photographs by Rob Hammer

Jeff Sullivan

Age: 34
Location: Canoga Park, Calif.
Occupation: Production truck engineer
Time: 5:08:49

“I used to be 256 pounds. Today I’m 174 pounds. My dad had a heart attack at 50 and that’s why I do all this: to keep my heart healthy.”

Willie Stewart

Age: 55
Location: Boise, Idaho
Occupation: Dad, CAF ambassador
Time: 5:28:08

“I did it!” Nicknamed “one-arm Willie,” Stewart lost his arm in a 1980 construction accident. He’s a four-time Kona finisher, a regular on the XTERRA circuit, and a Paralympic silver medalist in cross-country skiing.

Annette Rogers

Age: 31
Location: Broomfield, Colo.
Occupation: Mom
Time: 5:33:00

“I can fight cancer and have four kids and still do this.” Rogers battled thyroid cancer last year.

Jodie O'Shea

Age: 45
Location: Moses Lake, Wash.
Occupation: Physician assistant
Time: 5:34:34

“It can do amazing things if you treat it well. Recovering from physical and emotional challenges is hard, but I am doing it every day. Training and racing triathlon has saved me from myself.”

Randy Mounts

Age: 48
Location: San Tan Valley, Ariz.
Occupation: Plumbing engineer
Time: 5:42:50

“I was 250 pounds three years ago!”

Pavel Eduardo Tanasescu Catano

Age: 42
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Occupation: Owner of a media monitoring firm
Time: 5:44:33

“Because it recovers like hell! I almost lost my arm. A truck opened the door, and it went through three months ago. I thought that I was not gonna finish this, but I did. I did. I’m very proud of myself.”

Ziya Arik

Age: 42
Location: Irvine, Calif.
Occupation: Finance
Time: 6:12:57

“It’s always surprising me. I treated my body like a dumpster and now it’s giving back to me very nicely. After years of abuse, it can do this and I’m very grateful for that. I was an addict for 15 years. I’ve been doing triathlon five years and I’ve been sober seven years.”