Houston (CBS Houston) – Chris Cassidy has traveled over 70 million miles in space but a mere 140.6 miles might have been some of the most challenging of his life.
Cassidy competed in the 2014 IRONMAN World Championships in Kona, HI. He has walked among the stars and likely observed his race course from space, but this was a different type of mission.
2.4 miles in the water. 112 miles on two wheels. 26.2 miles on his own two feet. Back-to-back-to-back.
Cassidy said the local triathlons he was familiar with typically started in waves, but the mass start of this one forced him to adapt to a new environment.
“It was like a layer of on top of the ocean of human flesh which was something I had really never experienced before,” Cassidy said with a chuckle. He said there were feet hitting him in the head and his feet were hitting the hands of swimmers behind him. The groupings dissipated on the second half of the swim making it easier for him to trek through the water.
“That was nutty,”
The biking wasn’t the most sane scenario either.
Cassidy trained in Houston for the triathlon, where he mentioned there were few if any hills to encounter on two wheels. That wasn’t the case in Hawaii. The fastest speed he had experienced during training were around 32 or 33 mph, but Cassidy said with a few bits of effort on the downhill portions he experienced 40 mph speeds.
The other competitors along with strong winds lowered his level of comfort.
“It was relly really something I had never experienced before. It was the edge of my comfort zone as far as cycling.”
With multiple marathons under his belt Cassidy was familiar with 26.2, though not after a swim and journey on a bike. He said he just “grinded” through it until the finish line.
Just over an hour in the water. Over five hours on the bike. A marathon run time of nearly four hours. Cassidy’s times earned him the 555 overall rank in the event.
Years in the military, months in space, but 10:15: tested him in a different way.
He was happy with his time, but not too happy.
“I guess this is the competitive SEAL guy in me, I came across at 10:15, which was far better than I expected, but one of my first thoughts was ‘I could have shaved 15 minutes off somewhere and gotten sub-ten.'”
Cassidy blew past his personal goal of 11 hours.
Cassidy is no strangers to physical stress. He was in the Navy SEALS for ten years. The SEALS are often credited with having one of the most rigorous training regimens in organized military. There is of course the physical requirements he needed to meet to become an astronaut. Cassidy and fellow astronauts work out in space as well to combat the effects space has on their bodies.
No strangers to test of their body, Cassidy was assessed upon his Sept. 2013 return from space. He repeated the test prior to his departure for Hawaii and was happy with the numbers he achieved.
With the taste for competition, Cassidy says he isn’t shying away from future triathlon challenges. Ironman Texas comes up this spring.
“I’ve got all the gear, and I’m excited for it. I might as well sign up right now.”
Navy SEAL. Astronaut. Ironman. What’s next for Chris Cassidy?
“I’ve got my sights set on the moon.”
If anyone could get there, Chris Cassidy certainly could.