There was a moment when Brad Creamer began wondering if he could finish.

On the third loop of a 112-mile bike ride, the question began to run through his mind: “Do I really need to do this?”

It was cold and raining, and a 26.2-mile run still lay ahead.

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“I told myself to go five more miles and then see how I felt, and then five more and five more,” says Creamer. “When I got to the turnaround, I knew that I had to ride all the way back anyway.”

The assistant professor of biology – with the help of some warm chicken broth after the bike ride – found the will to keep pushing on through the end of the Ironman Arizona competition on Nov. 20 in Tempe, Ariz.

The event began at 7 a.m. with a 2.4-mile swim, followed by the bike ride and the run. Participants had 17 hours to complete the course.

“I finished in just over 16 hours,” says Creamer. “It was difficult, is the best way to put it. The weather conditions were horrid. The water temperature was only 63 degrees. It rained the entire time I was on the bike and there was a really strong wind out of the north, so it was really cold.

“And once the sun went down about 5 in the afternoon, the temperature plummeted.”

Creamer says training for the Ironman event was a yearlong effort. The number of hours spent training increased from week to week. As the competition drew near, he was approaching nearly 20 hours a week of swimming, biking, running and lifting weights.

Dr. Brad Creamer is photographed crossing the finish line of the Ironman Arizona event.

Dr. Brad Creamer is photographed crossing the finish line of the Ironman Arizona event.

“I’ve done a lot of triathlons, but it’s always been a goal to see if I could do a full Ironman,” he says. “It was a challenge, but very rewarding at the same time. It took a lot of mental determination to finish.”

He says many of his students were curious about why he was undertaking the challenge, but were very supportive.

“It’s a commitment … something you have to work had for,” he says of the Ironman. “Maybe they’ll get something out of that. If you dedicate yourself to something, you can accomplish it – whether it’s finishing college or finishing an Ironman.

For the time being, Creamer says he’s going to focus on his family, enjoying time at home and possibly competing in shorter triathlons.

“But in the future, who knows” he says. “I might get the itch again someday.”