Stories of triumph in endurance sports often come from defeating setbacks to success. These stories are also often about overcoming challenges to reach an achievement. Bart Lee, also known as Bear Lee, is evidence of the power of discipline. This discipline can be the spark of hope that arises in the face of adversity to accomplish dreams and goals.
The Unlikely Start: Overcoming a Dread of Running
Bart’s journey into the realm of endurance sports didn’t begin with a love for running. In fact, his high school days were marked by a disdain for the very activity that would later become a central part of his life. “I dreaded running,” he recalls, reflecting on his time as a football player.
However, as life progressed into college, Bart found himself at a crossroads. The realization that his metabolism was changing led him to seek a way to stay in shape. This decision would unknowingly set the stage for a transformative journey.
From One Mile to Triathlons: The Early Challenges
Leaving his student housing at the University of Utah, Bart began running around the block. This route was 1 mile long. This singular mile initially proved to be a daunting challenge. His perseverance, though, sparked an interest in running, leading him to explore the world of triathlons.
The initial triathlon experience in Knab, Utah, was far from smooth. From a late-night arrival with no place to stay to a disastrous race day, it was a comedy of errors. Despite these issues, defeating setbacks was how he was able to finish. Bart decided to dive deeper into the world of triathlons despite this first-race ‘disaster.’ He loves swimming and would use that sport as the jumping off point to get deeper into triathlon.
Triathlon Adventures and Mentors: Breaking Through the Initial Struggles
Joining the Salt Lake Tri Club marked a turning point for Bart. The newfound guidance from experienced mentors transformed his approach to training. He moved from haphazard routines to a more structured and informed strategy. This shift in approach allowed him to progress and tackle longer distances.
The pinnacle of Bart’s triathlon journey was the decision to take on a full Ironman—a significant leap from the familiar territory of Ironman 70.3 races. The fear and uncertainty surrounding this monumental challenge served as a catalyst for his training. The fear of failure led to a very structured and long training road. That road culminated in a successful race in Santa Rosa, California.
A Shift to CrossFit and the Unforeseen Setback
As with any journey, Bart’s path took an unexpected turn. Transitioning to CrossFit, he delved into weightlifting with a fervor that, unfortunately, led to a serious injury. He suffered a bulging disc in his back. This setback not only jeopardized his physical well-being but also triggered a period of deep depression and questioning.
“At that point, I felt like I had just reached the pinnacle of the sport. I’ve done the longest race, so what do I do now?” Bart reflects on the aftermath of the injury.
A Spark of Hope: James Lawrence and the Conquer 100 Challenge
In the midst of this challenging period, Bart found inspiration in James Lawrence, the Iron Cowboy. Witnessing James’ Conquer 100 Challenge, where he aimed to complete 100 Ironman-distance races in 100 consecutive days, sparked a renewed sense of hope in Bart.
“I had followed James Lawrence, Iron Cowboy. He’d done the 50 50. The 50 full Ironman distance events in 50 states in 50 days,” Bart explains.
From Depression to Determination: Joining the Conquer 100 Challenge
Driven by the desire to regain control over his life and overcome his setbacks, Bart decided to join James in his Conquer 100 Challenge. This commitment marked a pivotal moment, shifting Bart from a state of depression to a mindset of determination.
“For the next 100 days, I swam 2.4 miles all 100 days,” Bart shares, detailing the incredible commitment he made to the challenge.
Discipline Over Motivation: Bart’s Transformational Philosophy
Reflecting on his journey, Bart emphasizes the importance of discipline over motivation. “We do not rise to the level of our goals. We fall to the level of our systems,” he echoes the wisdom of James Clear, author of “Atomic Habits.”
Bart’s story is evidence of the transformative power of discipline and the unwavering belief that even an ordinary individual can achieve extraordinary feats with the right mindset.
Beyond Limits: Bart’s Endurance Exploits
Bart’s journey didn’t stop with triathlons or the Conquer 100 Challenge. He pushed his limits further, running multiple 100-mile trail races. Then in May 2023, he completed the Cocodona 250. This accomplishment challenged not only his physical endurance but also his mental resilience. Throughout the event he would have to defeat many setbacks including a bad case of chafing.
Looking Forward: Challenges and the “Go Crazy” Business
As Bart continues to explore the boundaries of his endurance, he has co-founded the “Go Crazy” business, a platform that encourages individuals to embrace their ambitious goals, no matter how “crazy” they may seem. The business provides coaching, podcasts, newsletters, and learning opportunities to help individuals realize their full potential.
Bart’s story is an inspiration to athletes navigating their own journeys. As he aptly puts it, “It’s all about mindset, grit, and believing in yourself.” Bart Lee’s journey from negative to positive showcases the enduring spirit that lies within each of us, waiting to be awakened by the challenges we face and overcome.