Ironman runner counts up the miles as he counts down the pounds

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - With thousands taking part in this weekend's Ironman race, one man from Texas has been pushing himself to compete as he counts up the miles and counts down the pounds.

Marcus Cook is in pretty good shape. He's 225 pounds and is preparing to compete in the Ironman 70.3 race Saturday in Panama City Beach. but it wasn't always this way.

In 2016, Marcus weighed almost 500 pounds and he knew he wanted to make a change.

"A close friend of mine that was dying of cancer said to me, 'Hey, I'm dying because of an incurable disease, you're dying because of your choice, you have to promise me that no matter what happens to me, you're going to fight for everything you have,'" Cook explained.

That was a promise Marcus intended to keep.

He said, "I started small, I started walking 20 minutes a day. Twenty minutes a day led to walking a mile a day, and that led to two miles."

He kept at it, and countless miles and almost 300 pounds later, he finished his second full Ironman race earlier this year.

"As you get into it you start realizing what your body is capable of and you keep stepping it up," Cook said.

As well as changes to his diet, he says there are little things in day-to-day life that help him stay in shape in the long run.

He explained, "Just start moving, start parking in the back of the parking lot instead of the front. When you see a flight of stairs and you see an escalator, take the flight of stairs."

As he continues his journey he'll be stepping out of his comfort zone.

"Get uncomfortable, so, later on, you can be comfortable," he said.

And striding, swimming, and biking towards the finish line.

"If you don't make a choice to change, those choices will change you," he concluded.

Marcus has also raised $100,000 for the Ironman Foundation and will be competing in the Ironman world championships in Hawaii.