Michael Blankenship is the head coach and founder of IronTex Triathlon, which he launched in May 2011. IronTex is the culmination of a triathlon career that began in 1991 with Mike’s first sprint triathlon.His interest in cycling and triathlon was fostered in the 1980s by the likes of Greg Lemond, Dave Scott, Mark Allen and Julie Moss, thanks to ABC’s Wild World of Sports once-a-week recap coverage of the Tour de France and the annual production the Ironman championship race in Kona.
Mike’s start in triathlon came at a time when steel road bikes were the norm, Speedos were widely acceptable and trucker hats were your only choice of hat for the run and not some sort of trendy accessory. During his 26 years of racing and competing both as a cyclist and triathlete, he has witnessed the sport grow from a relatively low participation sport to one of the most widely popular age-group participation sports in the world.
After his first race in 1991, Mike continued racing at a competitive level throughout the 1990s and early 2000s while a member of the U.S. Navy, which allowed him to train, coach and compete in unique setting around the world, including during deployments to Asia, South America, aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, and as a member of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. After leaving the Navy in 2005, Mike spent time in Sonoma, California, working as a consultant and grape grower.
A bicycle training accident resulted in a broken back in 2007 and altered the course of his triathlon career. The accident nearly resulted in his death and left doctors uncertain of his ability to walk again. After a three-month stint in the hospital, Mike moved back to the DFW area to continue his recovery and learn how to swim, bike and run again. And he did. He resumed racing in 2010 and began coaching again that same year
In 2011 he launched IronTex Triathlon with 6 people, and the team quickly grew to more than 100 athletes in the short time since its inception. Mike’s reason for starting IronTex was to give back to a sport that has been such a huge part of his life for more than 25 years. His goal was to create an organization that was open to anyone interested in triathlon no matter how fast or competitive they are. He also wanted to create training and coaching opportunities that were easily affordable in a sport where everything else is expensive.
Since launching IronTex, Mike has coached 80 athletes to their first Ironman finish and introduced the sport of triathlon to countless others. He holds coaching certifications from his boyhood idol Dave Scott, USA Triathlon, USA Cycling and Ironman University.
IronTex has not only gotten me through the training I need to accomplish my race goals and distances, but I have also made some lifelong friends. I could not imagine my life without them or IronTex.”
IronTex is family. We laugh a lot, we cry some, we eat quite a bit, and we race. Being on a team that doesn't judge but encourages is key for me. I appreciate that about IronTex.”