Colorado Athletes in Kona: Bob McRae

Bob McRae

Introduction by  303’s Bill Plock


I first met Bob teaching spin class at the YMCA in 2012 as he was beginning his comeback after his illness. I quickly learned of Bob’s attention to detail and his focus on training rides and runs.  We often talked of watts, and pace, nutrition and hydration. He would come up with games during runs and swims to keep things interesting and I found myself surprised to be exposed to his “fun” side while training. He strives to find the smallest things to motivate and push through boundaries.  In 2016, I felt like I was witnessing greatness as he kept going faster and faster. His amazing time of 9:11 at Ironman Boulder this year blew my mind as it seemed just yesterday he was a little bit faster than me–not a lot! His approach of consistent analysis and continually questioning how to improve drives him it seems. He is competitive no doubt, but the will to beat others is far in the shadows of his desire to find his limit–which I don’t believe he believes he has. His Mt. Everest is his perfect race–I hope it happens here on Saturday.




I actually do not train with a triathlon team or club per se, but I am part of the Dimond Team.  I have been self-coached since 2009, but Pete Alfino of Mile High Multisport has been working with me on the swim this season

My Story: In early 2004 my wife came home from work and said, “Let’s sign up for a triathlon”.  So, we proceeded to learn how to swim; I bought a bike; and started training.  Later that year, we did our first triathlon, Pacific Grove Olympic Distance.  I was hooked!


The next year (2005), I moved up the HIM distance and found that I was even more competitive than the Oly distance.  In 2007 I did my first full Ironman (Arizona) and missed a slot to Kona by a few minutes.  Ten weeks later, I qualified for Kona for the first time as a roll-down.


However, in early 2011 I started to experience a lot of very strange, systemic symptoms that prevented me from training and racing later in the season.  My symptoms got so bad I had a difficult time simply walking with my family.  After 14-months and 7-different physician practices, I learned that I had contracted Lyme Disease.  After finally finding the right clinician and starting treatment, I started seeing immediate improvement; I was able to start training again.  Then, in 2013 I started to race again.  I often describe Triathlon as “saving my life”, as it was the desire to regain my health and fitness that kept me seeking proper medical treatment for a disease that can be completely debilitating.


Since starting triathlon, I have probably done 50 HIM’s and now completed 13 full IM’s.  I qualified for Kona this year at IM-Boulder.  This will be my 4th time at Kona.  I am looking forward to actually racing to my potential and competing — not just participating — in the race at Kona this year.

Who/What Inspires Me: What inspires me in triathlon is seeing all the many people seeking their personal potential.  I am especially inspired by the folks that stick with it through so many years like, Lew Hollander, who — at 85-years old — was toeing the line at Kona last year.  I am also inspired by the likes of Natasha Badmann, who not only established a dominant role in Kona, but did it with an unmatched grace.
My Why: This was a question a 70-something year-old cardiologist from Houston asked my on the flight to Kona last year.  After thinking about it A LOT since then, I think my answer is the same.  Humans are curious by nature; we are pioneers.  We need to find what is possible.  For me, it’s about that personal discovery; breaking the contrived limits of what I previously thought I could achieve.  Also, competing represents a certain capability only possible because of my re-gained health.  Lastly, I hope that some of what I do influences my kids.  I want to show my kids that unimaginable things are possible by dreaming big and working hard.

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