Connor Emeny ’14: From Student-Athlete to Ironman
1,356 km across six continents: 22.8 km swimming, 1,080 km biking, 253.2 km running, and one world record.
After graduating from the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University, St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) alumnus Connor Emeny ’14, found himself at Uber headquarters helping launch Uber Eats across Canada. Now Emeny is the youngest person to successfully finish an Ironman triathlon on six continents.
“My goal was to complete an Ironman on all six continents and become the youngest person in the world to do so,” explains Emeny. “But on a deeper level, the title didn’t carry much weight for me, it was the people I would get to meet, cultures I would be able to experience, and stories I would be able to relive that drove me.”
While at SMCS, Emeny participated in several aspects of the school’s co-curricular programme. He competed in hockey, cross country, track, rugby, volleyball, and badminton, as well as the Ping Pong Club, Student Prefects, Head Leadership Committee, and Destination Imagination Club.
“I taught Connor in Grade 11 chemistry and helped coach him in cross country. Connor was dedicated to academic excellence. He was always a positive influence in the classroom, as well as a dedicated and enthusiastic member of the many varsity sports teams he competed in while at St. Mike’s,” shares Gail O’Grady, SMCS Guidance Counsellor who retired this summer. “Connor’s personal qualities are just as impressive as his intellectual and athletic accomplishments. I remember him as a kindhearted young man, unfailingly helpful, sincere, funny, and a genuine role model for the younger students at SMCS. He hasn’t changed a bit! Connor certainly exemplifies the qualities that St. Michael’s College School espouses in our school motto, ‘Teach me Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge’. I am confident he will continue to make a positive difference in his local community and around the globe. Can’t wait to see what his next challenge is!”
Emeny first found his passion for triathlons after trying out for the Queen’s Triathlon Team. He raced with a fellow team member, Ben Rudson, who was training to compete in an upcoming Ironman World Championship.
“I thought, if he could do it, so could I,” shares Emeny. “I texted Ben ‘by 2020, I’d do my first Ironman’ — and that’s what I did.”
The pandemic gave Emeny time to think about what was important to him and two things came to mind: building his life resume, not his paper resume and living an intentional life. The result of these two lessons was the idea to go all in with his dream, no matter the obstacles he would face.
“With the pandemic, wars, and significant increases in mental health challenges, I believe the world needs more dreamers and doers now than ever,” says Emeny. “I am chasing a dream to discover what I am capable of and share the lessons of community, hope, and inspiration along the way.”
Emeny left his corporate job and worked part-time at three different companies over 18 months to allow the flexibility and time required to train and race. In addition, Emeny began to secure sponsorship and help offset the costs of each race. Some of his sponsorship included: 2XU, Nuun Hydration, Uber Eats, Tality Wellness, and MOSEA (a startup created by Aidan Tighe ’15, Luke de Haas ’15, and Colin Lee ’15).
Emeny considers himself lucky to have met John Wragg and Elizabeth Model, the current world record holders for most Ironmans completed — 272 (male) and 102 (female). They became his trusted advisors, with a plethora of knowledge and experience he could learn from.
During the last two years of training, Emeny faced many challenges. “Five of the six scheduled races were either cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic. This made training extremely challenging and day-to-day life a big question mark.”
At times, he was stuck in different parts of the world from 14 days up to a month due to countrywide lockdowns.
“Ironman Philippines was the toughest for me. I was originally scheduled for Ironman Taiwan but due to country lockdowns, the race was cancelled for the year. I was told that a race slot had opened in Ironman Philippines nine days prior to race day. I got on a plane shortly after, arriving 72 hours before race day only to realize my bike was sent to another country and would not make it to me in time,” explains Emeny, of his biggest challenge. “After a long journey and tough news, I decided to call every bike shop in the city to find a solution. I got to the start of the race with a bike I’ve never ridden before. That coupled with 40-degree hot and humid weather, made for a very challenging day. I lost 10 pounds in the race due to heat exhaustion, but gave it everything I had and crossed the line with my biggest lesson learned to date: your mind will give out before your body does. If you learn to build mental toughness, you can achieve anything you want in life.”
Emeny learned that dreams are meant to be achieved and only remain a dream until they are acted upon.
What’s next for Emeny?
“Six Ironmans on six continents was a massive feat. It showed me anything is possible. This goal was just the beginning for me,” says Emeny. “I have my eyes set on the coldest and final continent – Antarctica! More details to come soon.”