Max Henry started doing sprint triathlons in the 1980s, and not long after, he had his two daughters and son competing in local events.
For Max and son Malachi Henry, those sprint triathlons turned into Olympic distance ventures. Then came half-Ironmans, and finally, full Ironman triathlons.
This fall, the Columbus doctors will compete in triathlon world championships. Max will do the World Championship Half-Ironman 70.3 on Sept. 10 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Malachi will do the World Championship Ironman 140.6 on Oct. 14 in Kona, Hawaii.
“When he was in college, we started getting a little bit better because we got our bodies to develop a little bit more,” Max said. “Swimming was always there, and running was always there because that’s what we did as part of our training for other athletic events. Then, we started getting on a bike, and it became, ‘Let’s try a bigger triathon.'”
The Henrys haven’t stopped since. Max, 63, a local opthamologist, has done two full Ironmans and 11 half-Ironmans. He is competing in his first World Championships.
Malachi, 27, has competed in six Ironmans since 2012 and about 20 half-Ironmans. He did the World half-Ironman in 2013 and 2014. This will be his first World Ironman.
“This has been my big dream and goal,” Malachi said. “It took six years to get there, and I finally got there.”
Malachi qualified for the World Ironman on Nov. 2 in Panama City. That day, he shattered his previous personal-best by finishing the 2.4-mile run, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run in 9 hours, 30 minutes.
His finish was his first in less than 10 hours.
“That was my big goal — to get under 10,” Malachi said. “I was always 10:03, 10:02, 10:04, and I could just never get under 10. Everything just clicked and went well in that race.”
The following month, Malachi graduated from Palmer Chiropractic School in Port Orange, Florida. He opened Henry Chiropractic Center on Columbus’ north side in March.
Malachi, who swam for Donner Swim Club as a kid and played hockey for the Columbus Icemen and for the Xavier club team, has a busy schedule these days. He typically swims 2,000 to 4,000 yards three or four times a week, bikes 30 to 110 miles four times a week and runs four to 20 miles four times a week
“It’s different,” Malachi said. “It’s real life. School was much more relaxed, and I had a lot more time that what I thought. Now being in the workforce and understanding that you are not on your own time, it’s a change in life. I have to sacrifice some things and will not get all the training I need, but I’ll make it work and have fun with it at the same time.”
Meanwhile, Max had been training with Malachi and providing support for him during Malachi’s Ironman and half-Ironman events. After a couple of years doing that, Max decided to do one himself and completed his first Ironman in November 2015.
At the World half-Ironman, athletes will swim up (instead of down) the Tennessee River for about a half-mile of the 1.2-mile swim. They’ll bike 56 miles through the hills of Georgia and Tennessee and run 13.1 miles in more hills.
Max’s best time in the half-Ironman is 5:38. He is looking to break 5:30.
“I’m just thrilled to be there and achieve the qualifications of getting in the Worlds,” Max said. “I’m still working full time, and training is still somewhat limited to perform my best. But I’m going to give it my best.”
The father-son duo returned last week from a weeklong trip to France, where they biked part of the Tour de France course. They climbed 230 miles, in six days, and ascended the Col du Tourmalet mountain pass. Max and Malachi also had done that trip in 2006 and 2010.
Five weeks after the World Ironman, Max and Malachi plan to compete in the Arizona Ironman on Nov. 21 in Tempe, Arizona.
Max said the pair aren’t able to bike and run together side-by-side a lot since Malachi is so much faster. But he said their understanding of nutrition, exercise and equipment and support from Max’s wife and Malachi’s girlfriend allow them to easily talk about their training and racing with each other.
“It’s been a happy camaraderie that we’ve had,” Max said.
Max and his wife, Cindy, spent their honeymoon working the World Ironman event at Kona in October 2014. They’ll be back there this year to support Malachi and celebrate their third anniversary.
Max is thrilled for his son to be competing among the world’s top athletes.
“You have to have everything precise and in place,” Max said. “Your body has to be good. You have to know your bike and your equipment and your nutrition. You have to be relaxed to be able to have fun and enjoy. But just to be there and know that you are in the top 2,000 athletes in the world to be able to do this event, it’s an honor for him to be there and for me to support him.”
Name: Max Henry
High school: Columbus
Colleges: Indiana University (undergrad and medical school), Ohio State (residency)
Occupation: Opthamologist at Max Henry, M.D.
Name: Malachi Henry
High school: Columbus North
Colleges: Xavier (undergrad), Palmer College of Chiropractic
Occupation: Owns Henry Chiropractic Center