Just as recently as 2013, the idea of competing for the title of Ironman would have been a far-fetched dream for David King, a native of Barbourville who now resides in Knoxville with his family.
“In 2013, years of working desk jobs left me overweight and out of shape,” said King. “Deciding to change my life for the better, I started watching what I ate and generally (became) more active. My wife was participating in local boot camp workouts for women and learned of a small 5K (3.12 mile) being put on by one of her friends to raise money for a local dance team. Wanting to help and realizing run was a good way to burn extra calories, I signed up. I was tired and sore by the end, having walked the majority of the run. Imagine my surprise when I ended up being second in my age group. There were only 2 people in my age group, but a medal is still a medal.”
That first 5K planted the seed for King, leading him to advance on to other 5K’s, including with the Knoxville Marathon, with the 5K ending on the 50 yard line of University of Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium. After having ran several 5 and 10K races by fall of 2013, King began training for his first half-marathon, which is 13.1 miles. A full marathon is 26.2 miles from start to finish. After completing the Secret City Half Marathon, King realized he was then hooked on the sport.
In 2014, King participated in several 5 and 10K races and four more half-marathons, which left him yearning for more. With the help of a running coach, he set his sights on a full marathon for 2015. “I wanted to cross the 50 with everyone I knew cheering me on,” said King. “Then on March 29, 2015, I finished my first full marathon in four hours and 39 minutes.”
King soon learned from a friend about triathlons, which is a combination of running, swimming and biking. “It was humbling to know I could run a marathon, but swimming more than 50 yards left me out of breath.” King’s first triathlon attempt was, in his words, “a disaster.” However, that experience left him wanting more, leading to more difficult triathlons that would eventually bring him to explore the world of the Ironman.
The Ironman challenge is a grueling triathlon, starting with a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, and capped off with a full 26.2 mile marathon… all to be completed within 16 hours to qualify for the title of “Ironman.”
King experienced watching his first Ironman in Chattanooga in 2015, lighting the fire for what was to come in September 2017.
On Sunday, September 24, 2017, King participated in his first Ironman Chattanooga event. Going into the event, questions and uncertainties abounded. “Others in our group are also racing Ironman Chattanooga (IMCHoo) for the first time and the questions come up,” said King. “What if something happens? What If there’s that catastrophic failure that prevents you from finishing. My answer has been and will be ‘First I’ll be devastated for a while. But then I’ll get up and start over. If not this year then next or the one after that but I will cross that finish line, hear my name, and earn the title Ironman!’”
King crossed the finish line in 15 hours, 44 minutes and 49 seconds, hearing the words he’d longed for a couple years before. “David King, you are an Ironman!”
King counts his blessings in light of his success. “To God be all the glory because it would be completely impossible to do the things I’ve done without His blessings on my life.”