Addict to IRONMAN: triathlete marks 106th IRONMAN competition in western Mass.

On Sunday, hundreds of the world’s best athletes will participate in IRONMAN 70.3 Western Massachusetts.
Published: Jun. 10, 2023 at 2:21 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - On Sunday, hundreds of the world’s best athletes will participate in IRONMAN 70.3 Western Massachusetts.

Todd Crandell is one the triathletes who is making tomorrow’s half marathon his 106th IRONMAN event. But before he swam, rode, and ran over a century’s worth of ironmen, Crandell had to race for recovery after 13 years of addiction to drugs and alcohol.

With every stroke, every push of the pedal, and every mile he runs, Crandell is putting distance between himself and the life he once lived.

“My story starts when I was three and a half years old,” said Crandell. “My mom committed suicide from her drug and alcohol addiction. My uncle also killed himself from his drug addiction and my aunt committed suicide from her food addiction. So, self-destructive behaviors run pretty rampant in my family, and of course, over the 13 years of my cocaine and alcohol addiction, I had those same suicidal thoughts.”

At 13 years old, Crandell started his 13-year struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. However, it was at the age of 26 when rock bottom became what he described as his greatest blessing.

“My drunk driving arrest, the third one, was the best thing that ever happened to me,” he told us. “That was the wake-up call that I needed; it was the new beginning that I have been on for over thirty years.”

It was that moment that inspired Crandell to cut the drugs and alcohol cold turkey, trading the high from drugs for a runner’s high.

“In 1999, I was six years sober and I said, ‘I’m going to do the IRONMAN,’” he said. “I couldn’t swim, I didn’t own a bike, and I didn’t want to run, but I’m like, ‘I’m going to do that.’”

Since 1999, Crandell has participated in 105 IRONMAN competitions in 15 countries across 6 continents. On Sunday, IRONMAN 70.3 Western Massachusetts will be his 106th.

Crandell told Western Mass News that his journey has inspired others to help improve their own lives.

“I’ve made some great relationships and a lot of the people have said, they’ve either read one of my books, or they’ve seen one of the Racing for Recovery livestreams, and they’ve joined our movement to improve their own lives and that is truly fulfilling for me,” he said.

Crandell is not only using the IRONMAN competitions to inspire others – he is using his platform to lend a helping hand to those in need. He told us that he and his organization, Race for Recovery, host online support group meetings every Thursday on their Facebook and YouTube pages to help anyone with their issues and get them over the finish line.