Pit Crew Ironman

Blake Haugland

Haugland is the rear tire carrier for the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing team and driver Brian Vickers. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)


Pit crew members spend their week training in the gym and practicing pit stops. But for Blake Haugland, he's putting in some extra training for what's to come at the conclusion of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

Haugland, the rear tire carrier for the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing team and driver Brian Vickers, recently completed the "Touch Alcatraz 'n' Go" swim in preparation for Ironman in Cozumel, Mexico, on Nov. 30.

"I was in San Francisco for a TRX training seminar with our MWR performance group, went out there and was looking for a place to open-water-swim train in preparation for an Ironman," Haugland said. "I found a race online on a Wednesday night and on Thursday, I entered it. I was actually looking for a one-way swim to Alcatraz and the only thing I could find was out-and-back, but I just jumped in and it was pretty cool."

The swim started on the beach of Aquatic Park in San Francisco and once the participants got to Alcatraz, they had to touch a boat at the edge of the island before swimming back. The distance of the swim was supposed to equal the 2.4-mile swim for an Ironman competition, but Haugland said it wound up being nearly three miles because of the flood tide not switching.

"I have friends who've done that swim, and they had already kind of prepped me and told me about it," Haugland said. "It's about six- to eight-foot circular swells, like water swirling down a drain. It was definitely challenging."

If you visit Haugland's Twitter page (@Blade4443) you will get a sampling of the training he does. In his most recent tweet, Haugland completed a 15.4-mile run, 60-mile bike ride and a five-mile run at 6 a.m. in the morning.

"I've been in triathlon for a little over two years, now," Haugland said, "primarily just up to the half-Ironman distance. I've done a little over a half-dozen of those."

Haugland is just one of many in the Sprint Cup garage who compete in triathlons ... not only crew members but drivers like Jimmie Johnson and Josh Wise. Last year, Wise entered the Ironman Cozumel and finished 427th overall.

Along with the swim, the Ironman Cozumel will feature a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run with about 2,800 triathletes.

Haugland will be featured tonight on "MRN 360," which streams live starting at 7 p.m. (ET) at MRN.com.

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