COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho -- When it comes to IRONMAN triathlons, Matt Russell is an animal.
He won Ironman Canada and has placed in many more.
“I race probably about seven IRONMAN's a year," said Russell.
This weekend, he has his sights on IRONMAN Coeur d'Alene.
"Who knows, I could roll across the finish line first."
When Russell says ‘roll,’ he means it literally. He ends every Ironman with a roll.
The reason is rooted in his childhood.
"My mother was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease when I was 8 years old and she passed away when I was 13."
Matt competed in his first IRONMAN in memory of his mother. He wanted to raise money and awareness for ALS research. He hasn't stopped since.
"Whenever I race in IRONMAN, it's very emotional for me, especially the last mile,” said Russell. “And when I finish every single IRONMAN, I always do a roll at the end called the blazeman roll in memory of my mother and Jon Blais."
Jon Blais was in the early stages of ALS in 2005 when he attempted his lifelong dream of competing in an IRONMAN. Blais vowed to finish even if he had to roll across the finish line, which is precisely what he did.
Russell said the inspirational examples of Jon Blais and his mother help drive him to the finish line.
"My mother's philosophy was always live each day as if it's your last and to never give up, and I try to live by those words," he said. "I know my mom's looking down on me smiling and I know she'll be proud of me, and I feel like I'm doing the right thing."