Sylvan Lake’s Scott McDermott will be returning to the Ultraman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii on Nov. 23-25.
The Ultraman in Kona only has space for 40 contestants, so being invited back for his third World Championships is something to be proud of in its own right, but this year’s race means something much more to the 49-year-old personal trainer and entrepreneur.
During his last trip to Kona in 2015 McDermott was in a near life-ending crash during the day two bike portion of the race doing 70 kilometres an hour down a mountainside.
Since the crash McDermott has gone through an exhausting recovery period including numerous surgeries and physiotherapy for his shoulder and knees, as well as neurological training to correct the brain injury he sustained in 2015.
But none of that stopped him from doing what he loved.
With metal in his arm and shoulder he Velcroed his arm to his chest and went for a run.
“If I’m honest it was like a 12 minute shuffle, but I didn’t care,” said McDermott. “I just needed to move, and as soon as I went for a run everything just started to feel better.”
In 2017 the owner of Best Body Fitness got back on a bike outside for the first time since the crash, and was back on the surgery table at the end of July for his knee.
McDermott was registered for an Ironman in Coeur d’Alene in August, just five weeks after his knee surgery, but he still came in under 14 hours allowing him to apply for his third World Championships.
When the news came through that he had been selected as one of the 40 to compete in the 2018 Ultraman World Championships he started training hard for three gruelling days of open ocean swimming, biking up the side of mountains, and double marathon.
“One of the biggest challenges is to relentlessly push your body hard, but also to recover,” explained McDermott, who added he is lucky he doesn’t remember the crash in 2015.
McDermott says his biggest strength used to be that he was relentless on the bike, but now he has an awareness.
“My logical brain now knows about the consequences, so I think about it sometimes,” explained McDermott. “If I’m ripping down a mountain at 80 kilometres an hour or 70 kilometres an hour my brain kind of goes ‘you know’ and then it’s like ‘hey, shut up.’”
“There’s that little dialogue right, it’s like, ‘yeah, that’s fine,’” continued McDermott, who added he it will be interesting to see how this new found awareness plays out in the race.
“I’m really excited about getting back and seeing so many people,” said McDermott, who is a husband and the father of a 6-year-old. “I’m excited to race again. I’m excited to go back to Kona… and there’s people I haven’t seen since the crash.”
“For me it’s like a thank you for all these people for what they did for us because it’s been hard,” explained a tearful McDermott. “One of the things I didn’t realize at first was how hard [the crash] was on other people.”
During the moments after his crash in 2015 other competitors put their races on hold to look after him until medical staff arrived. Volunteers and racers pitched in to help take care of his family during his hospital stay. His best friend slept in a chair in the corner of his hospital room for three days waiting for him to wake up.
“There’s a big part of this journey that is healing for everybody,” said McDermott. “For everybody to get there and do this and get through this and get to that finish line.”
“It means a lot to a lot of people,” continued the emotional McDermott. “It’s much bigger than me.”
“I just want to get to the finish line on day three,” admits McDermott, who adds it is a big deal for a lot of people that he finishes.
McDermott likes Ultraman because it is different from other races, like Ironman’s, which are an individual sport.
You carry everything on your bike and it’s just you, but the Ultraman is different.
Ultraman’s a family.
Ultraman is about the athlete and their crew because you can’t do the race by yourself.
“There’s only 40 people in the world allowed in the race, so it’s a tight community,” said McDermott. “We all know each other and we all support each other.”
McDermott’s goal is to enjoy the whole experience, hug a bunch of people when he sees them and race smart, but also to race well.
“I’m representing my country at the World Championships. That matters to me, so I want to do well,” commented McDermott, who will be joined in the field by two other Canadians.
Although, McDermott does realize his body is not the same as it was.
His knee bugs him when he runs, but it is solid, and his shoulder flexibility is not 100 per cent, but it is coming along.
“To me it’s almost like a Christmas present, I can’t wait to open it and see what’s in it. I don’t know how this is going to go,” said McDermott.
Follow McDermott’s Ultraman journey at his blog: http://www.yourbodycar.com/author-2/scotts-blog/.