There are a number of you that call me “crazy” for continuing to do Ironman Triathlons and keeping the training schedule I do during the season. At least it is the inspiring kind of “crazy” right? I enjoy training and obtaining results as a part of it, not to mention just maintaining my fitness level. There is one person out there that I call “crazy” in the inspiring kind of way. He puts all of my 100 mile bike rides, two-a-day workouts and mega brick training workouts to shame. He makes me look like a couch potato and he is more inspiring and motivating that any person I know. Let me introduce a guy who continues to motivate, inspire and just plain amazes me; Matthew “IronBeast” Dolitsky.
Imagine if you will, a 9 mile obstacle course, that includes swimming in cold water, then a rope climb over a wall to exit the lake. Imagine again doing this is in 30-40 degree temperatures. Of course that is only one obstacle there are 29 others as well. Now imagine doing that course as many times in 24 hours as possible. Does that sound crazy to you? This is “The World’s Toughest Mudder“(WTM), and Matt will be competing in that this coming weekend. What makes it even more amazing, is that he is competing in it for the second time!
Matt claims he is average, and when I was talking to him about doing this blog he said, and I quote, “I’m just an average dude too just an above average pain tolerance and insane determination!” All I can say is “Yeah, right!”
What does it take to compete in adventure obstacle challenges like this? Let me give you an example. I caught Matt training one day on Swann Drive flipping a huge tire for a mile. Does that sound crazy? How about a 75 mile bike ride on a mountain bike that didn’t start until 10pm? How about a 3 mile swim around Harbor Island here in Tampa? Matt incorporates these workouts as training on a regular basis and I think these are his easy workouts. During the Gasparilla Half Marathon I did, pass Matt, but there was a huge difference. I wasn’t carrying a tire on my half marathon, but Matt was.
Matt also inspires others constantly, and to a point where he is bringing a few people to the World’s Toughest Mudder with him.
Matt and I met at Fit2Run while I was coaching there. We were on a run together and I helped him (I think) relax a little on his run. This was at the very beginning of his journey into ultra obstacle racing. From there he was like a rocket ship. Last year, I received a message from him on FaceBook asking me if there was an Ironman he could get into. I laughed a little and told him after WTM and the Spartan Death Race, Ironman wouldn’t even challenge him, but I told him about Louisville. He set his sites on it and wouldn’t you know it, he completed it as expected. Needless to say Matt inspires me and a bunch of others every day.
Enough of my soap box about Matt. Let’s let him talk for a bit.
Name: Matthew Dolitsky
Age / Sign: 43 Years old, Gemini
Location: Tampa, FL
Place growing up: Long Island, NY
High School: Half Hollow Hills HS West
High School sports: Lacrosse & Hockey
College: University of South Florida
Other Sports: Adventure Obstacle Racing, Triathlon
List your favorite races:
Spartan Ultra Beast Marathon
World’s Toughest Mudder
I refer to you as not just a beast but an UltraIronBeast, because of the challenges you compete in. What made you start doing these Ultra-Mud-Obstacle challenges?
I stumbled upon my first obstacle race about 2 years ago. It was a basic 3 mile mud race but after finishing the race, I felt invigorated with a sense of accomplishment. Shortly thereafter, I “Finished” Tough Mudder and my passion for obstacle races and extreme challenges was born.
Now that you have competed in both mega Obstacles Races like the World’s Toughest Mudder and Ironman, how do you compare the two?
Comparing World’s Toughest Mudder or even the Death Race to IRONMAN is very difficult. The bottom line with any of the three is that simply making the commitment to get to the start line is scary enough and takes great fortitude! Once you make it to the start line, reality sets in and you now have to endure everything thrown at you or face a DNF. A 140.6 mile IRONMAN triathlon is never comfortable but there is comfort in knowing exactly what you are getting into. It’s a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. Barring variations in terrain and weather conditions, it’s pretty straight forward. Long and hard but straight forward. World’s Toughest Mudder and the Death Race are totally different beasts. They do not tell you what you will be doing PERIOD! Sure, you have an idea from previous races and intelligence gathering but you better get yourself comfortable with being uncomfortable really quickly and embrace every miserable moment of it. World’s Toughest Mudder in New Jersey is 24-26 hours of running a Tough Mudder course on steroids braving miserable cold temperatures while running in layers of neoprene. The Death Race was 70 hours of hiking gnarly terrain in the mountains of Pittsfield, Vermont while building stone stair cases up the mountain, doing countless burpees, chopping wood, endless manual labor, running, carrying 50+ lb. packs of supplies, etc. while not sleeping for 3 days! With all that being said, the one thing that all three races require is mental grit because everyone of them will expose your weaknesses and tell you to quit at some point. If you have the mental element coupled with proper training, your body will do whatever the mind tells it to do!
If you could give me one adjective to describe the feeling you get when you are working what would it be?
One word to describe how I feel when working out or training is HAPPY. Training makes me feel healthy and alive and that equals HAPPINESS. I love being outdoors. When I’m outdoors training, I’m in my element and the result is overall HAPPINESS. It makes any negative thought that creeps into my mind disappear.
What is going through you mind while you are competing during a course like the Spartan Death Race or WTM?
While I’m competing in races like World’s Toughest Mudder and the Death Race, I focus on micro movements while thinking of the race as a whole. If I take my mind off my next foothold or hand placement, I could get hurt. I must be focused on every series of movements the entire way through! I have to become like a machine and keep performing consistently, safely, efficiently, and patiently. I repeat this for the duration of the race until I am finished!
You have children that I know you love and adore. For all of the parents out there, how do you balance the amount of training you do with work and family?
Balancing kids, work, and training can be challenging. Essentially, I balance my training around work and kids. Sometimes I’m up early in the morning to train and other times I’m up late at night training. It’s not uncommon for me to finish training at 2am. It’s about committing to my goals! Reaching goals and finishing races happens long before race day. It’s about putting in the hard work and hours of training. My races are unorthodox and so is my training. I always try to train in conditions worse than I’ll experience on race day. This way, conditions for me will always seem ideal! I often take advantage of blocks of time I have available to train. I’m very spontaneous and flexible.
What would you say is your greatest personal obstacle you ever overcame?
Everyday, I overcoming the greatest obstacle there is. Life. I’m trying to keep life as simple as I can make it. Living each day as it comes. Trying to be happy, make a positive impact, motivate and inspire others, and be a loving father to my two boys. I’m surrounding myself with positive people in the racing community, gaining some awesome sponsorships, and accomplishing things I never thought possible. I’m also learning from some mistakes along the way.
What is your greatest victory?
While crossing the finish line at IRONMAN Louisville was pretty amazing, living a life of happiness will be my biggest victory. Something I’m trying to achieve everyday.
What are your future goal races?
Double Anvil IRONMAN, Fuego y Agua Survival Run in Nicaragua, Bill Floyds 8 mile swim from Clearwater to Tampa
What are you favorite quotes?
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.” -Mark Twain
is a certified running coach, triathlon coach, personal trainer and sports nutrition coach who's real passion is to help others enjoy the journey on the way to conquering their goals. He has written many articles and guest posts on the technical, nutritional and psychological aspects of endurance training. He currently lives and trains in Tampa, Florida.