The Patriot Racer: Marine veteran aims to break an Ironman record
Marine veteran is competing to break an Ironman record.
All weekend long elite athletes from all over the world have been competing in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships here in Chattanooga.
The competition includes a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike race, and a half marathon to wrap it all up.
Elite athletes must qualify to compete in the race.
"Since March 19th I began my quest, my mission, to do this," said competitor Mike Mendoza.
Mike Mendoza looks like any other Ironman athlete, but his story might surprise you.
"I don't just swim to swim, I don't just pedal my legs to cycle, and I just don't walk a course,” Mendoza said, “I always give my best."
Mendoza completed his first triathlon 2 years ago, but that wasn't enough for him.
"I decided that this year I'm going to break the Guinness World Record for the most 70.3 Ironman's in a single year," Mendoza explained.
The World Championship is his 19th triathlon, the record is 23 in one year.
The race is also his 15th Ironman, that record is 18 in a year.
Mendoza doesn’t just want to shatter records, he is also raising awareness.
"Hopefully they see what I'm doing and they can get out there and start moving,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza is a Marine veteran. He was a sniper in 2006 when a grenade went off right next to him in Iraq.
The Semper Fi Fund helped him while he recovered.
"Both my lungs were injured, my diaphragm, my stomach, my small intestines,” explained Mendoza, “Of course the recovery process was very long."
He wasn't a triathlete before his injuries, which earned him a Navy Cross and a Purple Heart, but said competitions help him.
"It helped me better socially because I have battled with PTSD aside from just regular physical injuries," he explained.
Mendoza also said competing gives him a platform to help others.
"It just gets you out and about rather than taking those depression pills from battling PTSD, or anxiety, you name it,” Mendoza said, “What better way to be out and about than an event like this."
But competitions don’t come without some roadblocks.
Mendoza's bike was lost during his flight from Chicago.
A Chattanooga company, Quintanaroo, gave him a bike to race with. Thankfully, Mendoza's bike was found and delivered last night.
Employees at Quintanaroo helped fix it up in time for the race.
You can follow Mendoza’s journey and donate to the Semper Fi Fund by clicking here.
His goal is to raise $25,000.