That competitive nature, and a passion for athletics, runs through the Bang family and serves as a cohesive bond — just like their unconditional love for each other.
Some families spend a vacation touring historic sites or basking in the sun at the beach, but the Bang family enjoys exerting itself on holiday. So they packed up the car and headed to Lake Placid, N.Y., to compete in an ironman competition.
The Bangs don’t race in these grueling events for kicks. This family is serious about their athleticism. Skylar’s dad, Dr. Steven Bang, has competed in mixed martial arts events and their mother, Kaylyn Bang, also partakes in ironman competitions.
“My father and my mother and older brother Sheldon did the ironman two years ago, and it was at that point I decided that I wanted to do it as well,” said Skylar, who is a senior at Edward Little High School. “Last year, when my father did the race, I looked and saw that the race this year was going to be a day after my birthday, and I would 18 years old the day before, and the minimum age requirement is 18.
“So after pointing out that fact to him. He was very excited for me and he let me sign up.”
Skylar, who is an EL indoor and outdoor track athlete and wrestles as an independent with Oxford Hills High School, knew this arduous competition — which includes swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles — would be a lofty goal, but there was always the idea of one-upsmanship when it came to Sheldon.
“My real goal that I set kind of as a workout motivation, like get me really motivated to train hard, was to be able to beat his time,” Skylar said.
But did Skylar top Sheldon’s time?
“Unfortunately not,” Skylar said. “I ran into some trouble on the second leg of the course. I finished in sixteen-and-a-half hours — about the rounded time.”
Skylar finished in a time of 16:23:22. His father, Steven, came in with a time of 10:55:35. Kaylyn Bang’s time was 16:04:35.
But Skylar said that sibling rivalry between the two brothers will always exist.
“I would say so. We are the closest in age to each other and a lot of things we do, we have always done together,” Skylar explained. “I definitely strive to try and surpass my brother a lot in every thing that we do. It is always trying to strive to be better than him and keep that motivation going.”
A natural high
Finishing the exhausting race was personal accomplishment and journey for Skylar.
He earned the distinction of becoming the youngest competitor to race and finish the Lake Place event.
“Af first, I didn’t know what I enjoyed about it,” Skylar said. “But after experiencing the race itself, I love the support of people cheering for your name, and really as you are going to the finish line, there is very few times in my life where I have experienced so much excitement and joy, and its like one of those natural highs that you get, and you just get so happy and you feel so accomplished that you have done it.
“I feel that is like same effect as climbing Mount Everest to some people. That was my Mount Everest.”
Skylar said the biking portion gave him a hard time, but he enjoyed the running and swimming legs of the race.
“”My best leg was in the swim, and I did much better average-wise in the swim, and I enjoyed being in the water, but the run was my favorite,” Skylar said. “But in the run, you can really converse with the other racers. As you are going, kind of speak to everyone else and you figure out their stories. It is at the time you can meet new people. The most excitement is at the end.”
Of course, Skylar was grateful his parents were along side of him during the race.
“Well, the pain that you experience really isn’t physical in the race — at least for me,” Skylar said. “I was able to finish without any physical pain, but a part of that is really hard is being mentally strong.
“The whole family comes down to help. Hearing people that you know cheering for you and cheering your name gives you support. It is all about the supporters.”
But it’s also all about the family for the Bangs.