PORT HENRY - Bill "Red" McDonough is an Ironman.
The 69-year-old Port Henry man completed the Lake Placid Ironman July 25 in 14 hours, 24 minutes, 41 seconds - completing the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run.
"I had a ball; it was fun," McDonough said. "It was challenging, especially the run, but the whole way I knew I'd be able to finish.
"I'm very happy, no doubt about it," he added. "I never dreamed I could do something like that. It's unbelievable."
McDonough is just the fourth area athlete to complete Ironman. Dave Natale and Marge Huseman of Ticonderoga have done it along with Chloe Orr of Mineville.
While McDonough had to complete Ironman on his own, he had plenty of support getting to the starting line.
Natale and Huseman accompanied McDonough on many of his weekly swims in Mirror Lake, 100-mile bike rides and 20-mile runs.
"They were there with me the whole way (in training)," McDonough said of Natale and Huseman. "They were with me on the long runs and bike rides; they took me swimming. I'm very indebted to them."
In fact, Natale and Huseman are the reason McDonough decided to tackle Ironman. He had tagged along on some of their training runs as they readied for the endurance test and caught the Ironman bug.
"They get the credit - or blame," McDonough said.
Others helped, too.
Dave Rutkowski and Jim Cunningham of Ticonderoga taught McDonough about cycling. Paul Buehler of Elizabethtown helped with strength training and Peg Bolster of Westport taught McDonough how to swim.
McDonough didn't know how to swim until Bolster became a mentor.
"That first time in the (Moriah Central School) pool Peggy asked me to swim four laps," McDonough recalled. "I couldn't do it."
And there's McDonough's wife, Marie.
"She really helped me through all the training and supported me the entire way," he said. "I was gone from home a lot training and she understood."
A high school athlete years ago, McDonough started running 20 years ago when his sons decided to play football.
"I started to run with them to get them into shape for football," he recalled. "I kept running; they didn't."
Always looking for a challenge, McDonough picked the Adirondack Marathon in Schroon Lake for his first-ever race.
"It wasn't pretty," he said of the 26.2 mile run. "I knew I could do better."
He did. McDonough returned to win his age group at the Adirondack Marathon three times. He also won his age group at the Green Mountain Marathon Vermont twice and qualified for the Boston Marathon three times. He has a total of run 21 marathons.
At the Lake Placid Ironman, his time was good for fifth place in his age group, a strong showing for a first-time Ironman.
So what's next for McDonough? He's registered for the Lake George Triathlon in September - and he's already signed up for the 2011 Lake Placid Ironman.
"I thought I was going to do a little better this year, but now that (14:24:41) will have to do," McDonough said. "It gives me something to shoot for next year."