The world's most celebrated triathlon is the Ironman in Hawaii -- a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a full marathon run (26.2 miles).
Beginning today, McCandless resident Wayne Kurtz, 45, plans to do the equivalent of 20 Ironmans over the next 20 days.
The event is the Double Deca-Iron Triathlon in Monterrey, Mexico. It is part of the World Cup Series of the International Ultra Triathlon Association, a group for athletes who don't think an ordinary Ironman does enough punishment to their bodies.
The swimming portion in Monterrey will be conducted in a pool, not in the ocean. But "it's going to be smoking hot," Mr. Kurtz said. "It's supposed to be 95 degrees all week."
Mr. Kurtz has done more than 300 triathlons and other races since his first triathlon in North Park, 27 years ago when he was a sophomore in college. A swimmer in college, he took up triathlons so he would still be able to compete in athletics once he graduated. Mr. Kurtz kept up with the academic competition, as well: two years at Grove City College, bachelor's degrees in math and finance from Robert Morris University, and a master's degree in taxation from Duquesne University.
Among the races Mr. Kurtz has completed are a double Ironman in Hungary, and 100-mile running races in Vermont and Ohio. But this is his most ambitious undertaking yet.
"I've never done anything of this magnitude," he said. "I'm a little nervous. That's always a good thing."
Preparing for the event takes a lot of time. "I train seven days a week," Mr. Kurtz said.
He'll do a full triathlon -- which takes 10 to 12 hours to complete -- over Friday and Saturday, and then work out "on tired legs" for another five hours on Sunday. He also works out for an hour or two each weekday.
Often it's difficult to fit a workout into his schedule because of all the international travel he does as CEO of Karlsberg International Insurance Corp. Ltd., based in Belize.
"I do the vast majority of it while everyone else is sleeping," Mr. Kurtz said.
Typically, Mr. Kurtz will begin his big weekend workout at the end of the working day Friday and exercise through the night.
"I don't go to bed until Saturday night," he said. "It helps to train your body when you are sleep deprived."
Somehow Mr. Kurtz also has found time to write two books, "Beyond the Iron: A Training Guide for Ultra Distance Triathlons" (2010) and "Never Say 'I Wish I Had' " (2012); to tutor immigrants in English as a volunteer for the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council; and to start the "Run for the Books" foundation, which teaches literacy in San Pedro, Belize.
"If your friends and family don't say the words 'no way, you're crazy' about your goals, then you haven't made them big enough," Mr. Kurtz said.
Jack Kelly: email@example.com or 412-263-1476.