Ironman: Soren Bang

Riverton High School senior Soren Bang has a challenge ahead of him early next month in St. George, Utah. The 18-year-old senior will be the youngest competitor among 3,000 athletes in the Ironman World Championship on May 7.

Soren Bang holding his medal after the Lander Triathlon in 2021 (h/t Steve Bang)

Triathlons consist of swimming, biking and running in that order, and depending on the level and type of competition those distances can vary greatly.

Triathlon TypeSwim DistanceBike DistanceRun Distance
Sprint750 meters12.5 miles3.1 miles
Mini-sprintLess than a mileLess than 15 milesLess than 3.1 miles
Olympic.93 miles25 miles6.2 miles
Half-Ironman1.2 miles56 miles13.1 miles
Ironman2.4 miles112 miles26.2 miles

Soren has competed in smaller triathlons several times, but this is the first time he’ll enter the challenge of a full Ironman competition.

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The 2021 event was originally scheduled for Kona, Hawaii, but COVID 19 postponed the event, and it was moved to St. George next month. It is still considered the 2019 championship.

He comes to the sport via his father Dr. Steve Bang. Steve attended Riverton High School, completing his freshman year before his family moved to Palm Springs, California. It was in Palm Springs that he developed his interest in endurance-style competition.

It’s an interest that has spread to the entire family.

Dr. Steve Bang, his wife Kaylyn, son Soren and daughter Kyrie after the Lander triathlon – (h/t Steve Bang)

The 2.4-mile swim will take place on Sand Hollow Reservoir to open the event. The blue water of the reservoir makes it an ideal swim venue for an ironman, taking place in Sand Hollow State Park near the town of Hurricane, Utah.

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Following this grueling swim, competitors take to their bicycles for a 112-mile circuit around the St. George area before beginning the final phase of competition, a full 26.2-mile marathon.

The entire competition must be done within 17 hours to score the title of “Ironman” in the event.

Soren turned 18 in March and will compete with veteran Ironman competitors twice and three times his age. After the event, he’ll travel back to Riverton to graduate with the Wolverine class of 2022.

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At just 18, Soren already has over a decade of competition under his belt, completing his first triathlon at just 7-years old.

Soren Bang at age 7 after a triathlon with his sister Kael – (h/t Steve Bang)
Soren Bang at age 7 showing his triathlon medal (h/t Steve Bang)

He will compete with his mom Kaylyn and dad in the event, and his oldest brother Steven and his sister-in-law Rachel. His three older brothers have already completed Ironman races.

The order of events in any triathlon is designed for the safety of the competitors. An exhausted swimmer can have a race end tragically, and a tired biker can suffer severe injuries if they collapse while biking at high speed. That’s why the marathon is the final event, though many competitors consider the 26-mile run the most grueling of the three.

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You don’t just walk out on an Ironman course and compete, it takes training to prepare.

Soren Bang competed in cross country for Riverton as a way to train for Ironman competition (h/t Steve Bang)

“You pay one way or the other,” Steve said. “Either you put in the time before the Ironman or you’ll feel it for a while after you finish.”

Training for Soren consists of workouts in the Riverton High School Aquatic Center and open swimming at Boysen Reservoir in a wet suit, lots of miles of road running, and 50-mile sessions on a stationary bike. His training sessions in all three venues account for dozens of hours per week of preparation.

Soren Bang putting in long hours on a stationary bike training for Ironman competition – (h/t Steve Bang)

“As a high school student, it’s hard to get enough open time to train properly,” Steve said.

Soren has competed in wrestling, cross country, swimming and soccer for Riverton.

“He’s trained hard, but the distances in the Ironman will be the largest he’s faced,” Steve said. “We’re counting on his training, and his youth to get him through.”

The Riverton High School honor student plans to pursue a medical career after serving a two-year mission with his church.

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