How A Dream To Outlive His Parents Inspired McKenley Mason To Become A Marathoner And An Ironman Triathlete

by | Sep 7, 2022 | Podcast

McKenley Mason is an old friend of mine whom I met back in 2015 at the Football Hall of Fame Half Marathon..  He is a marathoner turned triathlete.  He used to casually run up to the age of 50. At the age of 50 he decided to quit smoking and drinking and become a more serious runner having prayed on it. Hoping to outlive his parents who had both died in their early 50s, his casual runs became longer and longer and soon found himself running 3 hours straight. His goal at first was to run only one marathon a year but his running family pressured him into doing more.

His brother bought him a Walmart bike which was not properly assembled at the store. Mason took it to a local bike shop for repairs and met triathletes who got him to consider participating in triathlons. Although he swam at an early age he was only able to swim 8 feet when he returned to the pool.  After looking around for a group of people to train with, decided to train himself using videos, his GoPro, and seeking the advice of various member of the Black Triathlete Association. In 2021, McKenley  completed  his first Ironman in 14 hours 52 minutes and has plans to do more.

Episode Highlights:How McKenley initially  started running 

How McKenley quit smoking and drinking

McKenley start as a long distance runner 

McKenley’s first marathon 

Getting a bike and  joining the world of triathlons.

How McKenley advanced in swimming 

McKenley’s future in triathlons

A look into how McKenley plays to his strengths 

McKenley Mason shares some words of wisdom

Guest Bio

McKenley Mason is a Runner/Triathlete. Up until age 50, he would have called himself a casual jogger, only running one local 10K race a year. 

Both of his parents died in their early 50s; they drank and smoked a lot, and so did he. It became a dream to outlive his parents and he prayed about it. During the year of his 48th birthday, he had a testimonial event occur in his life, and on the year of his 50th birthday, he was forced to stop drinking and smoking. At this point, his casual runs became longer and longer and after a year Mason found himself running up to 3 to 4 hours non-stop.

In 2010 at the age of 52, he ran his first marathon in Richmond Va. In the beginning, his goal was to run at least a marathon a year, but once he met other runners and joined several run groups that quickly changed. From 2010 to 2017 he was a marathoner but was given a Walmart bike by his brother and that changed his focus. The bike had many loose screws and parts, so he took it to the local bike shop, and it was there that he met some triathletes.

Running over these years has taken Mason to places that he thought he would never see and has met people who today are his Run Family. He has run marathons in 24 states, and 5 continents and completed 4 of the 6 major races of the world. He is surprised when he looks back and sees that he has completed 24 Marathons, 51 Half Marathons. 1 Ultra, 3 Ironman 70.3’s and Ironman 140.6……all this after 50.

Running has been Mason’s love, but becoming a Triathlete has been amazing. When it came to the world of multisport, he could run and cycle and obtain podiums at duathlons, but his swimming was sub-par. He learned to swim in college, but went 37 years without “swimming”. He signed up for his first Tri at 59 years old and literally ran all parts of the pools if his feet touched the bottom. There were frustrations learning to swim, but he never gave up. He went to numerous swim and open water clinics and 95% of the time he was the only Black person there. He can’t explain, but he never felt comfortable, so he taught himself using videos and advice from fellow triathletes from the Black Triathletes Association, BTA. March 2020, The Pandemic, our world changed and he was happy with his athletic resume. Mason still trained during the pandemic with no race in sight and found himself after a year trained up for the 140.6 distance. He entered Ironman Maryland (IMMD) as a 63-year-old Black man and in 2021 he finished with a time of 14:52:34.

In 2 months, Mason will be 64 and sometimes he feels like he started late in this game, but sometimes we are not ready for God’s blessings until we have experienced some things. It took me 50 years to prepare for the great things going forward and he wants to thank God and all those he sent his way that is part of his testimony.

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