Ever since Peter Priolo’s surreal moment, in 2002, while pacing a zombie-like buddy who was still 30 miles away from finishing the all night, Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run, “Iron Pete” Priolo decided maybe he should try an ultra marathon himself.
Dedicated, hardworking, driven, positive thinking and independent, yet enlightened and caring, Iron Pete, 44, is an ultramarathoner, traithlete, and endurance coach from Willowbrook, Staten Island, who loves everything about his sport. He has smoothly finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, this year, making him only the 4th New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100-mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in a condensed, 10 week, time period. No one from New Jersey has ever completed the Grand Slam; it began in 1986 and 282 runners have been named official “Grand Slammers.” (Iron Pete hopes that in 2014 NJ will have “one or more,” he wrote in an email, adding “I know the state has such great developing ultrarunning talent.”)
In a recent DFL Ultarunning podcast, Eric Sherman speaks to Iron Pete referring to an article published in the Staten Island Advance, before the first 100-mile event, on June 29 – 30th,the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, (Iron Pete finished Western States in just under 29 hours). In the article, Iron Pete said, “I do believe that the human body can exceed any limits. I’m trying to be an example of stretching the limits, and promoting longevity.”
Iron Pete tells Sherman what friends and family thought when it was published in the local newspaper and everyone learned he’d be tackling 400 miles last summer.
“Are you crazy?’ Yes, crazy like a fox. I might as well attempt it,” he said.
Then Sherman adds: “It’s a reasonable question… to someone looking in from the outside anyway.”
“Yes, it’s definitely (insane), if you look at it from the outside it looks insane,” Iron Pete responds. “I mean, one, 100 mile race to somebody outside of the ultra running world is insane enough, running four in 10 weeks is, I don’t know, it tends to be out of the universe for them. They just can’t grasp it.”
During High School Iron Pete joined the varsity swim team and qualified for the Scholastic National Swim Meet, in 1987, during his senior year.
He did not begin running until his sophomore year in college, when he took up running to compliment his fitness. In 1990 he found out about the New York City Triathlon, in Coney Island; a 1-mile swim, 20-mile bike and a 6-mile run. Training for six months, losing 20 pounds, and enjoying it immensely, he became addicted, finishing his first triathlon in just under two hours. In 1995, Iron Pete recorded his first marathon; however, roughly one year later came the greater accomplishment when he finished his first Ironman.
“With 1994 and 1995 as the guidelines to learn from, along with meditation and mental rehearsal, in 1996 I cut my training a bit, avoided the overtraining and mental burnout, and sensibly trained myself. The result was my first ever Ironman finish at Canada in 10 hours and 36 minutes. The wondrous thing about the year was that I managed to enjoy the training without mental burnout, which enabled me to be the fittest I can be at Ironman Canada. I actually *wanted* to do more after the race,” he wrote on his website.
Iron Pete is a long time member of NJ’s, Raritan Valley Road Runners Club (RVRR), based in Middlesex County, NJ, where he served as President of the club from 2001 – 2002. Although he is strongly committed to the RVRR club, loves the group and many friends he has made over the years, he has recently formed the Staten Island Traithlon and Endurance Club (SITEC). SITEC is officially sanctioned by USA Triathlon and is open to athletes of all abilities (RVRR is open to runners of all levels as well).
According to Iron Pete there is always a definite chance of failing. He acknowledges that “there are so many ways to fail in this land.” Then adds, “I found a way to succeed.”