Dying To Ask

How Four Words Changed Mike Reilly‘s Life

October 21, 2021

"You are an Ironman."

One of sports' most iconic phrases will be heard thousands of times at the inaugural Ironman California in Sacramento.

Legendary race announcer Mike Reilly coined that signature phrase 30 years ago.

That simple declaration is what finishers crave hearing after what's known as the toughest one-day race on the planet.

The Ironman Triathlon is 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling and a full marathon. Athletes have 17 hours to finish the 140.6-mile race.

It's Mike's job to welcome them to the finish line.

You could say it's his calling. He is equal parts cheerleader, hype man and finish line friend. He has the unique ability to make the last finisher feel like they won the race.

"I say their name and the you (part of the phrase) comes out and you see them straighten up, no matter how much they're hurting," he said. "They look up almost to the sky because they know it's coming and it's that exclamation point on who they are, what they did."

On this Dying to Ask:

  • What Mike has learned about life and human nature in 30 years of announcing Ironman
  • How Mike practices the names of thousands of athletes
  • Why so many people are drawn to events like Ironman coming out of the pandemic


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