Categorized | Featured, Multi-sport, Sports

Mission Apolo: Ohno takes on Ironman World Championship


After hanging up his blades four years ago, world-champion speedskating legend Apolo Ohno is making his athletic comeback.

This time, the eight-time medalist has teamed up with the Built With Chocolate Milk campaign to take on a training and recovery journey that will culminate at the world’s most grueling endurance race: the Ironman World Championship triathlon – a 140.6-mile swim-bike-run event in Kailua-Kona.

Ohno will be challenged to translate his speed and power to a brand new sport, carrying the torch for football legend Hines Ward who successfully put his athleticism and determination to the test at the iconic race last year.

Ohno’s transformational journey will be captured in an eight-episode online documentary series, Mission Apolo: Built With Chocolate Milk that will show his highs and lows as he builds from short-course competitor to a long-course endurance athlete.

Fans will be able to watch Ohno’s journey on and will get an inside look at how building an effective recovery routine, including chocolate milk – the Official Refuel Beverage of some of the most prominent sports organizations and teams in the world including the Ironman triathlon series, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, USA Hockey and Women’s Ski Jumping USA – plays a critical role in his success.

“For the past 20 years, recovery has been the number one element in my training because that’s where you rebound and how your body heals,” said Ohno. “Anyone can perform well for one workout, but to do it repeatedly is the difficult part. Recovery, with the help of chocolate milk, is what’s kept me in the game. That’s why I’m so excited to team up with Built With Chocolate Milk to take on this challenge because as an athlete, I know you can train and perform only as hard and as fast as you recover. It’s time to really put my recovery ritual to the test while training for my biggest race yet. I’ve always had tremendous respect for endurance athletes and now it’s my turn to push myself. It’ll be tough but I’ve never been one to back away from a challenge.”

“Apolo is in for one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of his life,” said football star-turned triathlete Hines Ward, who finished the 2013 GoPro Ironman World Championship in 13 hours and 8 minutes. “I wish him all the best – but if he beats my time I may just have to come back and give it another try!”

An eight-time medalist and the most decorated American winter athlete of all time, Ohno made his debut in endurance sports with a 3:25 finish at the 2011 New York City Marathon, which is only one-third of the disciplines he will face at the Ironman World Championship in October.

After commentating from Sochi during the 2014 Games, Ohno missed the intensity of competition and sought a new challenge.

While speedskating and endurance sports both require mental focus, which Ohno is known for, his success will depend on him mastering and combining three sports: swimming, biking and running.

Ohno will show how he is built with determination and focus as he assess new goals for competition; going from finishing first place after 40 seconds of quick intensity and agility to sustaining steady speed and endurance for 140.6 miles among a field of top athletes in the sport.

“We couldn’t be more proud to have Apolo as the face of this program,” said Miranda Abney, Marketing Director of the Milk Processor Education Program, the group behind the Built With Chocolate Milk campaign. “He’s already proven he’s one of the world’s greatest athletes, but we look forward to showing people what an incredible role model he is as he digs deep and pushes himself to his limit to accomplish this extraordinary goal. Mission Apolo: Built With Chocolate Milk is a journey that will inspire athletes and fitness enthusiasts regardless of ability and sport, compelling them to finish strong no matter what goals they seek. We are excited to see what Apolo accomplishes over the next seven months and ultimately how hard he races to the finish line in Kona.”

“This program introduces the sport of triathlon to an even larger audience and inspires people to show them that Anything Is Possible,” said Andrew Messick, Chief Executive Officer of Ironman. “We are excited to see what Apolo is capable of doing. His athletic background, commitment to competition and eagerness to immerse himself in triathlon makes him a great ambassador for our sport. We look forward to welcoming Apolo into the Ironman family this October.”

Joining Ohno on this journey is Women’s Health Fitness Director, Jen Ator, CSCS. An endurance sports novice, Ator will be training with Ohno and chronicling her first-time experience in partnership with the magazine.

“I am inspired by Apolo’s legacy and honored to be joining him on Team Chocolate Milk,” said Ator. “To cross the most prestigious finish line in endurance sports that so many athletes I admire and respect have crossed before is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

At Women’s Health, Ator oversees and manages the fitness-related content for the print magazine and online platforms and serves as an expert and talent for the brand’s online fitness videos.

While Ator has dipped a toe in the water, participating in several shorter races, this will be her first attempt at anything close to an Ironman triathlon.

She will juggle a hectic work and travel schedule, family commitments and training to show what’s possible when you set your mind and heart on building something extraordinary.

While triathlon is considered an individual sport, elite and amateur athletes alike know that behind each athlete’s success is a support team; a team that encourages an athlete as he or she puts his or her body to the ultimate test and provides encouragement as he or she attempts to accomplish a life goal.

Joining Ohno and Ator is a team that is Built With Chocolate Milk, including:

* Support Crew: Supporting Ohno and Ator are some of the most respected heavy hitters in the sport of triathlon including coaches; eight-time Ironman World Champion, Paula Newby-Fraser; and three-time Ironman World Champion, Craig Alexander.

* Training Partners: A stacked team including two-time Ironman World Champion, Mirinda Carfrae and six-time Ironman Champion, Luke McKenzie, who will share training tips and firsthand experience on the importance of post-exercise recovery.

* Nutritionists: Many elite athletes and endurance experts say that the fourth discipline of triathlon is nutrition. There will be a team of sports dietitians consisting of some of the nation’s top nutrition experts, Dr. Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD, ACSM HFS and Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD, who have both recommended chocolate milk for recovery to athletes for years. They will provide guidelines for overall nutrition and recovery in training and competition throughout the journey.

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