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Bel Air resident Brian Walker breaks promise but wins Triple Anvil race

Brian Walker on his bike competing in the Triple Anvil race in Lake Anna Virginia earlier this month.
Brian Walker on his bike competing in the Triple Anvil race in Lake Anna Virginia earlier this month. (Courtesy USA Ultra Triathlon/Baltimore Sun Media)

Four years ago, Brian Walker promised his wife he would never again compete in a Double Anvil — a swim-bike-run endurance race that is twice the distance of the Ironman triathlon.

His promise came after completing the grueling, 280-mile race in the 2017 Virginia Anvil Fest.

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Three years later, he suffered serious injuries in a biking accident that sidelined him for months. During that time, he backpedaled on his promise.

“I started feeling sorry for myself,” said Walker, 55, a Bel Air resident and member of the HCC Board of Trustees. “I resolved to compete again, and to win the Triple Anvil.”

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In returning to the competition Oct 7-9, he not only finished the 421-mile race in Lake Anna State Park Virginia, but he won the title by two hours. Walker prevailed over a field of 12 starters in 50 hours, 6 minutes.

In the crazy world of extreme endurance events, the anvil races are not yet widely known. This event had a limit of 50 entrants among the four different races, including the longest — the 703-mile Quintuple Anvil. They are overseen by the International Ultra Triathlon Association.

The Triple Anvil begins with a 7.2-mile swim, proceeds to a 336-mile bike phase, and then concludes with a run of three times the standard marathon distance. There were no timeouts for rest breaks or transitions between phases.

Walker finished the swim portion in 3 hours, 39 minutes, which was the fastest time in his race by over an hour. In the run phase, 78 laps of a 1-mile run course, he was one of the slowest, but he began it with a huge lead that allowed him to slow his pace in the last 15 miles to ensure he would finish on his feet.

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At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds — having played lacrosse and rugby in college — Walker is not built for extreme endurance events, but he trained 12 to 16 hours per week in the year leading up to his win. He swam in open-water events of up to nine miles. He biked 100 to 150 miles on Saturdays, and in his long runs he covered as much as 30 miles at a time.

In the race, the cycling phase involved 22 hours on the bike — a mind-numbing 66 laps of a 5-mile loop. He took a 10-minute break every 3 hours and still widened the lead he built in the swim.

The run, which he describes as a jog-walk, was his most difficult part of the race. Being the last phase and lasting 24 hours, it was the most fatiguing. He reached a low point of the race 34 miles from the finish in the dark of night. “When there was a low, it was really a low,” he said.

“When the sun came up Saturday (the third day), my spirits rose,” he said. “The finish was surreal, a complete blur.”

After crossing the line, he walked to a ceremonial anvil and struck it three times with a hammer, signifying him conquering the triple. He had been awake for 56 hours straight.

What’s next?

“In 2017, I said I was never going to do this again. I did it, and I’m glad I did. But there is no way in hell I am doing the quintuple. This time, I really mean it.”

Walker figures it will take him well over a month to fully recover, and he does have one more race planned for October — the Bay Bridge Run on Oct. 31. It is only a 10K.

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