FORT BENNING, Ga. -- A little more than two years since he completed his first triathlon, Josh Horsager is already taking a shot at one of the world's most grueling races.
Horsager, a Ranger from the 75th Ranger Regiment, was selected to represent the Army in the 35th Ironman World Championship Oct. 12 in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. The 140.6-mile challenge features a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run with no breaks. A feat usually conquered by athletes with years of races under their belts, Horsager said he wanted a shot at the Ironman right away.
"I've been a runner for a long time, but there are people who have raced their entire lives and never made it to the races I'm doing this year," he said. "It's a surprise and I didn't see myself making it this soon, but it's a good surprise."
Horsager said it was a surprise similar to making the 2013 Armed Forces All-Army team in June, where he finished 30th out of 60 overall. With a short career span, Horsager spent as much of this year as possible racing to build his resume.
"A part of the reason why I wanted to do the Army triathlon was to network to get this position," Horsager said. "By having a strong resume this year, I think that's where I got the opportunity to go to Hawaii. This year I've had some really good race results and that's what they went off of for selection for this year's championship." While his strengths are biking and running, Horsager said battling the heat and unruly waters of Hawaii would be his greatest obstacle.
"My challenge is swimming, especially with open water and the ocean," he said. "I'm in the pool a lot here but it's much different than the water in Hawaii." Horsager said he trains three to four times a week, eats a consistent diet of fruits and vegetables to maintain his weight and always keeps a positive attitude.
"I haven't done a race this long and there's always going to be issues, but you can move through them," Horsager said. "One of my main focuses is to intake calories as soon as I get on the bike and throughout the bike. It gives you the time to consume calories you need for the run and you have to continually remind yourself to keep eating and stay positive."
Before he takes on the Ironman, his next challenge will be the Half-Iron Man World Championship on Sunday in Las Vegas, which includes a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike and a 13.1-mile run. Horsager said he is honored to represent the Army and talented athletes of the 75th Ranger Regiment. "As part of our job, we keep ourselves in peak physical shape and we have guys doing different competitions throughout the year that aren't as recognized as this," Horsager said. "It's a great honor to represent the Army and show the Army that we as a regiment have some phenomenal Soldiers and athletes."