To make the statement that Adam Smith of Morrill epitomizes the word and overall concept of an Ironman would not, by any stretch of the imagination, be an exaggeration.

That is because the 24-year-old essentially lives, breathes and eats for the grueling sport. His passion, dedication and resilience to compete in triathlons is unwavering.

How else does one explain the fact that he has competed in 42 triathlons — including four Ironman competitions, four half-ironman events and many sprint triathlons (which includes a half-mile swim, 15-mile bike and 3-mile run) and Olympic distance triathlons (1-kilometer run, 40K bike and 10K run) — during his young life.

Smith’s latest accomplishment in the sport was his best as he is coming off another strong performance in the Ford Lake Placid Ironman, a grueling 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run, that happened July 24. The event, which attracts 2,500 competitors, is centered in the Adirondack region of New York.

Smith set a personal best for the distance, finishing in 11 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds — about four minutes faster than he did Lake Placid in 2010.

He finished the swim portion in 58:39 (he was 64th overall at the time), which was 1:20 faster than any of his previous times in the water at such an event. He finished the bike in 6:07:06 and the run in 4:25:52.

Smith finished a remarkable 234th overall among 1,776 finishers, including men and women, in the wetsuit division. There were 117 in the division who did not finish.

How tough is Smith? Tough as iron as he again spent a good part of one day pushing his body and mind to the limit to participate in Ironman Lake Placid.

The prestigious event included wetsuit and non-wetsuit divisions.

The Lake Placid course presents challenging sections on both the bike and run courses that gives the hundreds of competitors a workout to remember. The swim takes place in Mirror Lake. The bike course winds through the Adirondack Mountains. The run also is no picnic, offering many challenging hills.

Smith said he always loves to get information to the public about triathlons. “Hopefully someone will latch on and start into the sport,” he said.

As Smith has with an unwavering passion.

Smith said he headed to the Lake Placid area July 20. “Everyday out there always seems so busy between going through registration, which is quite a process, including getting weighed, signing your life away a few times, and picking up all your race numbers, getting the last few workouts in, going to the professional athletes’ press conference, athletes’ pre-race dinner (more like a pep rally I’d say, you leave there thinking you have a chance to win the race), make sure all your equipment is in perfect working order, and getting all your gear together for race day. Between everything going on you try to stay relaxed and off your feet as much as possible.”

Smith said Lake Placid and the Adirondacks are “absolutely beautiful and such a great place to kick back and relax. Where Lake Placid has hosted the Winter Olympics twice and the Olympic complexes are around, that town was really built around the athletes, so, as an athlete myself the town [has a] really cool energy and comfortable vibe. The town really is the perfect setup to hold an Ironman race. Add the scenery on top of that and I’m really having a tough time finding another race that looks like it’s worth it to do.”

Smith said the race overall went well. However, always looking to get the most of his training and body, his initial reaction to his Lake Placid performance was one of disappointment.

“I was a little disappointed first off because my training had led me to believe that I could really go a lot faster than that, but in reflecting on it I am becoming a little more satisfied,” he said. “How can you complain about setting a personal best? It’s the best I’ve ever done and I left it all out on the course, and finished my fourth Ironman. That is a great day, no matter what the clock says. I also bettered all three splits from the year prior. I didn’t just get better as a swimmer, biker or runner, but as an athlete, so I am happy with that.”

Smith said the race begins at 7 a.m. with the 2.4-mile swim, and nearly 2,500 athletes going into the water. “There is a few minutes of treading water at the start line waiting for the gun to go off. The swim can get pretty violent at the beginning just because you have 2,500 people in such a small place treading water vertically. But once the gun goes off everyone goes horizontal and there just isn’t enough room for everyone. The swim is a two-loop course in Mirror Lake.”

He said he was “really excited” to exit the water with a personal-best time. “I didn’t expect to be that quick with the way I felt in the water,” he said.

On the 112-mile bike ride, Smith said he decided beforehand “that I was going push the bike a bit harder than I had last year, but still be comfortable. The key to the bike is keeping the calories coming into your system and keeping in mind that you still have a marathon to run. Some people call Ironman an eating competition with some exercise thrown in. I would agree with them because without calories the body is going to start to shut down, and a lot of the calories’ focus is on the bike.”

Smith remained focused during the more than six-hour bike portion of the event as he thought about the run ahead. He finished 13 seconds faster on the bike than last year.

He transitioned into his running shoes and “off I went to start my marathon. It is a really daunting thought to think about what you’ve already done and you are just now starting a 26.2-mile run, but you just have to put everything else behind you and focus on now and just start chipping away mile by mile. I was really excited to run this year. I’ve never ever said that before, but I’ve put a lot of focus on my running this year and felt great. I really thought I could take significant amounts of time off of my previous run times.

“I ran the first few miles feeling really good and going through the aid stations grabbing what I needed and back to running right away. My times were starting to fall off a bit but I was fine with that. I was still running well. I went through half way in about two hours. Slower than I had hoped but it was what it was and I was just looking forward not backward. I was actually really excited though because I felt great and was ready to just blow through the second half and give it everything I had.”

Smith said it has been explained that the Ironman is doing the swim, the bike, and the first half of the run with half of one’s energy for the day. “The last 13 miles takes the second half of your energy. It shows just how hard those last few miles are and I find that to be very accurate. About 16 miles in I hit the wall — hard. I went from running well to hardly being able to run at all. I knew 10 miles was a long, long ways. I was doing everything I could to get some calories into my stomach without upsetting it. When I did I would start to feel good again and I could run at a pretty decent pace and after just a few minutes the calories would wear off and I would crash. So I rode that wave for the last couple of hours.

“At that point your body is saying, ‘No more,’ but your mind is saying, ‘Keep going,’ so you have this tug of war going on within yourself. Mile by mile clicked by and after 4:25:52 I was finally into the finishing chute. There is no other feeling like getting to a finish line that you have spent so much time and energy thinking about.”

Smith said the few days following the Ironman competition, when one can hardly move physically, “you question why do these things, but you are easily reminded why and it’s knowing that you have pushed your body and mind to the limit and beyond. What can be more fun than that? I don’t know of any other sport that you can compete with some of the best athletes in the world on the same course, on the same day, at the same time. I’ve raced with many world champions and I can compare my times to theirs, which I find pretty cool. Tell someone you want to go to Fenway [Park] and see if you can hit a home run like David Ortiz and they will look at you like you are crazy.

“In triathlon you get to be in good shape, travel to some pretty cool race venues that you probably wouldn’t go to if it wasn’t for the race, and you’re able to do a different workout every day. You have three sports to choose from so its not like you are doing the same thing day after day. I don’t see me leaving triathlon anytime soon.”

Smith said, while he is not finished with Ironman, next year is going to be a change for him. “It will be the first time since 2007 that I will not be getting ready to go to Lake Placid,” he said. “I decided it was time to change things up and look at different race distances to focus on. There are so many great races out there I want to try something different, but Ironman Lake Placid will definitely be on the radar again in the future.”

VillageSoup Regional Editor/Sports Director Ken Waltz can be reached by phone at 207-594-4401 or by email at kwaltz@villagesoup.com.