LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Sunday in Louisville 3,000 people will try to cross the finish line by midnight, including a man who thought he might not ever be there.
Ironman is considered one of the most challenging races, but one Lexington attorney has 135 reasons to finish the 140 mile race.
When Mark Rucker came out of the Ohio River at last year's Ironman race he had every intention of finishing.
He had just swam 2.4 miles and was 50 miles into the 112 mile bike course when his body gave out. A crushing blow to Mark and his wife.
Annita Rucker says, "Last year was heartbreaking for both of us. Just knowing how hard he'd worked, and knowing that everything else he had done up to that he'd been able to achieve. So, I don't think we thought, even remotely, that he wouldn't finish the race last year."
Mark says, "The thing about dreams man, just because they don't come true when you want them to, doesn't mean they're over. You can keep trying, and that's what I'm going to do."
Now, a year later, Mark is returning to Louisville for a second attempt at facing Ironman.
Mark says, "There's always been a part of me that wanted to see how far I could go and what I could do. For about the last 20 years though, unfortunately, I let that part slip away."
At one time Mark Rucker had ballooned to over 385 pounds.
Mark says, "I'm a totally different person. I feel sorry for that guy because I know there's a good guy inside but he got lost. It's sad sometimes to think that I let my life slip away for those years, which is what I really feel like I did."
Two years ago Mark vowed to make changes, if not he didn't know if he'd live to see 50.
Mark says, "So I started with my nutrition and each week I'd change one unhealthy thing. So I'd cut something unhealthy and replace it with something healthy. Then after about a month and half I decided I wanted to start exercising so I started walking."
Walking turned to running and eventually he added swimming and biking. Mark lost 135 pounds. He also started speaking to groups and companies about his journey, encouraging others to find healthier eating and fitness.
Mark says, "This is what I wanted my story to do, was to be able for me to inspire other people.
Marks wife says she and their children, Abby and Mason, will be there at the finish line to celebrate his new life.
Annita says, "Looking at how Mark used to be where he seemed like was on the sidelines a lot in life and not really participating, now I see he wants to run with Abby and ride his bike with Mason and he wants to camp and he wants to hike. I think it's all the things he wanted to do before but couldn't.
Mike says one of the keys to his weight loss is realizing it would take patience. He says by taking small steps with diet and exercise it became his lifestyle.