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Iron Man

Connor Emeny, BCom’18, is a man on a mission. Pain isn’t an option.
Rebecca Harris
Connor Emery is a man in a nice suit with styled brown hair. He is suspended in the air in a running pose in front of a brick wall.

Name a sport, and Connor Emeny has likely done it: competitive hockey, cross-country, badminton, rugby, and that one year in high school when he joined the ping-pong club. “I always had the sports bug,” says Emeny, from his current training ground in Vancouver. “Growing up in Toronto, I had two older brothers, and we were all very involved in sports. We would push each other to keep chasing goals and be better versions of ourselves.”

In his first year at Smith, Emeny joined the Queen’s triathlon team. A pivotal moment came in 2016, when Emeny’s friend and fellow Queen’s alumnus Ben Rudson, BSc(Eng)’17, competed in the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. Known as one of the world’s most grueling one-day competitions, Ironman consists of a 3.86-km swim, a 180.2-km bike race, followed by a 42.2-km running race. Rudson, at age 21, placed 14th in his division.

“We had competed head-to-head, and he went off and did this otherworldly feat,” says Emeny, who was so inspired that he decided to complete an Ironman, too. Emeny’s day came in March 2020 when he competed in New Zealand. The 24-year-old left his job at Uber to train in Auckland for six months before the race.

During the race, he had to stay strong on both the mental and physical fronts. “I had just crossed the 100-km mark on the bike, and I thought, ‘this is getting pretty tough now. My legs are screaming,’ ” recalls Emeny. “You see people dropping out and think, ‘I could easily make the decision to just call it a day. Or, I have to keep riding the pain train and push through it and get to the other side.’ ”

He crossed the finish line in a solid 12 hours and nine minutes. Then came the question: What next?

The answer: to become the youngest person ever to complete Ironman races on six continents. “I started thinking bigger and bolder and thought how amazing it would be to race in different countries and see more of the world,” he says. He soon found out that only five people have completed an Ironman on six continents, and the youngest was 32.

Emeny aims to complete his goal in 18 months. A few races were cancelled because of COVID, so now he’s eyeing a June Ironman in Subic Bay in the Philippines. “I’m staying active, staying motivated and trying to get my message out about chasing your dream,” he says. “It’s a bumpy road but it’s a fulfilling road, and I hope that my story can inspire a few others to go after what they want to achieve.”