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Ironman After Two Hip Replacements


In his book New Steel, Chris Bystriansky tells his story about getting both his hips replaced (within about a year) at a relatively young age due to a congenital condition that caused him to get osteoarthritis. He had been active in various sports like hockey and swimming growing up. He still participated in biking as an adult, including finishing some multi-day charity events like the MS 150, until the arthritis limited his activities. After the surgeries, while rehabbing he initially set his sights fairly low, wanting to get back to walking normally.

But then something planted the seed that because he was a swimmer and biker he could complete an Ironman triathlon. This caught my attention because I wondered how he could convince his surgeon it was ok for him to run a marathon on two artificial hips. But Chris had thought this through and realized that the overall cutoff times for Ironman-length triathlons are about 17 hours. Since he is a fast enough swimmer and biker, he figured he could finish the swim and bike legs in 10 hours or less, leaving him about 7 hours to walk the marathon. Once he got this in his head he just went for it. Most people start with shorter length triathlons like the sprint, Olympic, or half-ironman distances, but he went straight for the full ironman, signing up for Ironman Texas near his hometown of Houston, and also Ironman Arizona in Tempe, about 6 months later. Covid 19 ensued, and he ended up doing the races about 3 years after he first signed up, and because of the Covid-related rescheduling, they were only 6 weeks apart. But he still completed both.

Another interesting accomplishment was that he decided to complete a 29029 event during the Covid delay. This involves cumulatively climbing 29029 feet, the height of Mt. Everest. It is often done at ski areas in the off-season, hiking up to the top and then taking the tram back down, as many times as necessary to get the required accumulated elevation, which can take about 48 hours. This is a good event for people with hip replacements because it eliminates the pounding of hiking downhill. For most people, with or without their original hips, this is a bucket-list challenge of its own, but for Chris, it was part of his training.

This is a very inspirational book. After telling his own story of surgeries and accomplishments, he added two helpful bonus sections to the book, about overcoming challenges for all of us, and specifically about successfully undergoing hip replacement surgery and rehab.

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