‘Ironman’ is a true test for rodeo’s best

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GUTHRIE, Okla. – Why is the Timed Event Championship of the World called the “Ironman of ProRodeo?”

Russell Cardoza
Russell Cardoza

It’s the most challenging rodeo event in the world, where 20 invited cowboys pony up $3,000 each to test their versatile talents against one another and in each discipline: heading, heeling, tie-down roping, steer wrestling and steer roping.

“I’ve always loved roping calves and bulldogging and stuff,” said Russell Cardoza, a three-time heeling qualifier to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. “I’ve always wanted to win the Timed Event, so I finally got in it when I started rodeoing. I’ve kind of always liked all” the timed events.”

The Timed Event also is the most rugged event in the game. Each contestant will make a run in each discipline per performance. They compete over five go-rounds, which means they will make 25 runs in just three days. Most of the cowboys in the mix focus on one particular discipline. Cardoza and Dustin Bird are heelers, while Spencer Mitchell is a header. Those guys are relative newcomers to the game, with Bird and Mitchell making their first appearances in the field last March.

Dustin Bird
Dustin Bird

“Actually a lot more fun than I thought it would be,” said Bird, who has qualified for the NFR each of the past two seasons. “I’m kind of getting to like it. I’ve just got to slow down a little bit and start doing things right. I get in a speed jam all the time.”

There are numerous others who have proven themselves among the greatest all-around cowboys in the game, from five-time Timed Event winner K.C. Jones, who qualified for the NFR in both team roping and tie-down roping, to three-time champion Daniel Green, who focused on heading during his 10 trips to Las Vegas. Josh Peek is an NFR all-around champion who has qualified in both steer wrestling and tie-down roping.

Spencer Mitchell
Spencer Mitchell

This field is loaded from top to bottom, including a couple of Linderman Award winners in Mike Outhier and Trell Etbauer, both of whom have proven themselves in timed events and riding bucking animals. They were quite handy during last year’s Timed Event, but it’s what fans have come to expect during the “Ironman.”

This year’s Timed Event Championship of the World will be showcased in an RFD-TV prime-time special Wednesday, March 12, just a few days after this year’s winner is crowned. It’s a grand celebration for the 30th anniversary of the “Ironman of ProRodeo,” the most unique and challenging rodeo competition in the game. Only 11 cowboys have won one of the most prestigious titles in rodeo.

“They all work at it, and they know to not beat themselves,” Mitchell said about past champs.


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