Iron Phil rides again


“To make our way, we must have firm resolve, Persistence, tenacity. We must gear ourselves to work hard all the way. We can never let up.”

- Ralph Bunche


Phil Anderson makes his living in Winona as a financial planner. He has a reputation for working overtime to go the “extra mile” for his clients.  However, in his hobby as an endurance athlete, Anderson’s ability to triumph and “go the distance” in the face of pain, solitude, and adversity are the stuff of local and national legend. Last Sunday “Iron Phil” completed a solo bike challenge he designed to inspire those affected by the COVID-19 crisis.  His goal was to complete over 2,020 miles over 16 days. He averaged over 126 miles a day and finished with 2,022 miles.

Anderson began distance running in high school. He wanted to try out for the track team, but his dad needed him to work on the farm after school. Phil’s solution was to schedule a study hall for his last period of school and then run eight miles home to get his chores done. On nights when there was a track meet, Phil’s dad would excuse him from his chores. Necessity was the mother of invention. Anderson’s career in endurance sports had begun, and kindled a lifestyle that has continued to this day.

“When you are young you have all the enthusiasm and no experience. By the time you’re 55 you have all the experience, but you’ve lost the enthusiasm,” said Anderson. “I’ve discovered that a tough physical challenge through endurance athletics helps maintain both my energy and attitude. Lord willing, I’ll be able to participate in my business well into my 80s, and I expect to participate in endurance sports into my 80s also. It’s ironic, because I help people to have the ability to retire … in many cases as soon as possible, but as long as I feel this great, I plan to keep working long into the future.”

Anderson has completed over 10 full 140.6 Iron Man competitions in his career.  He has biked from Southern California to Boston three times, averaging 115 miles per day for 33 days in a row, and has also biked from Southern California to Savannah, Georgia, averaging 115 miles a day for 28 days in a row.

“To participate in an event like this requires planning and consistent effort. It seems like I’ve been working out a minimum of four days a week for an hour ever since I graduated from college,” Anderson said. “Usually it’s just a little thing like rolling out of bed every morning and doing 25 pushups, 30 situps, and 29 military presses with 40 pounds.  It only takes a few minutes and it makes a huge difference. If I can inspire a person or two to start a habit of fitness where they are in life that would make all of these miles worthwhile.”

“There’s many lonely miles on the road for a project like this, but I never felt like I was truly alone,” Anderson continued. “I want to thank John Vail for keeping my spine straight for the last 15 years, Mark Brone for setting me up with the right bike for this undertaking, Traci Murphy for holding the office together, and especially my wife Hope, for all of her support and understanding.”


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