Ironman Finisher Noel Mulkey Opens up about Addiction Recovery

Gaone Pule
May 31, 2021
06:50 A.M.

Athlete Noel Mulkey has come a long way from being a recovering drug addict to being overweight and now a triumphant Ironman triathlon finisher. He gets candid about beating the odds.


Ironman finisher Noel Mulkey opened about his addiction recovery in an interview with Today. The 26-year-old has been sober for six years.

He recently finished the Tulsa Ironman triathlon – a full marathon, a 2.4 mile swim in open water, and a 112-mile bike ride – in 9 hours and 25 minutes, securing a spot in Kona, the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.


Mulkey shared it all became possible through exercising. "Exercise saved my life. Running, exercise, cardio, there is no greater medication on Earth," he said.

The Oklahoma native hopes people see that those recovering from addiction or living with a mental health condition can overcome such obstacles.


“There is a lot of stigma with mental health. You are never stuck." Mulkey explained there is always a way out no matter how bad things are “because I could never envision (finishing an ironman) ever,” he said while adding he could barely walk around the block.

Mulkey went from never exercising to running to 60 to 70 miles a week. While he is glad about competing in Kona in October, he also appreciates what he has learned about himself.


Last year in December, Mulkey shared that he started triathlon in 2015 because he initially had been running. He ended up signing up for a local sprint, and a month later, he came third place. Nine weeks later, he signed up for his first Olympic distance triathlon.


When he could not fit into his clothes anymore, he decided to run, but because of the weight, it was painful for him, "but I loved it," Mulkey said.

He revealed that he grew up as an athletic, adding his parents were athletes. Mulkey played soccer when he was in middle school while disclosing he never pictured himself as getting overweight.


Another athlete who went against all odds is a 62-year-old woman’s Ironman triathlon member who received praise from her followers. After Karen Mulkey shared her training journey for her first event, and the TikToker went viral.

On May 22, Mulkey took part in the triathlon, and her 32,000 followers had watched her train since January even though she had a minor setback.

More than 2,600 athletes worldwide traveled to Oklahoma this past weekend for the Ironman Tulsa on Sunday. Organizers revealed 75 athletes competing at the Tulsa event would qualify for the world championship in Hawaii.

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