Friday, 20 April 2012

Iron Icons

Last Thursday, I stood in my hotel room, soaked through with rain, cycle helmet still on, shoving crisps in my face, after a 95 mile bike ride. If anyone had suggested another 17 miles and several hours of running to follow, they might have found themselves "falling" off the balcony with a crisp packet fluttering gently down after them. It's times like these when you look to your heroes for some inspiration:

Chrissie Wellington
Describing herself as sports-mad but accident-prone with "no sign of any unusual [athletic] talent" in childhood, Chrissie Wellington found sport an enjoyable channel of competitive energy and a distraction from the binds of swotting at school; if it weren't for the 3:08 marathon debut, successful career with the civil service and subsequent streak of 13 unbeaten ironman triathlons, I might have started to believe there's a Ironman World Champion lurking in me. Oh well, playing to my strengths, I've set my sights now on her post-race record of "two-half pound burgers, two plates of chips, one plate of onion rings and fifteen doughnuts"; Chrissie's mantra, "Never ever give up - and smile", is something I intend to think of both in this challenge and the event leading up to it.

Jane Tomlinson
Jane Tomlinson put ironman on my radar even before completing my first marathon and she has been an inspiration for a long while. She took on physical challenges that many could only envy and showed extraordinary strength, drive and determination in the world of endurance sport and beyond. Her legacy lives on with the Jane Tomlinson Appeal and the appeal's 10 year anniversary is being marked by her husband, daughter and others taking on an epic 8-day duathlon that culminates with the London Marathon this weekend. You can support the challenge here.

Paul Parrish
Working for a St Albans' hospice, Paul is passionate about fundraising for this cause; however, having already asked his friends for sponsorship to complete 2 ironman events, Paul felt he needed to up his game if he wanted to ask them for more. Hmmm, how about a double ironman? On completion of the 2011 Double Enduroman, Paul wrote, "of 38 starters, 25 finished, and much to my own amusement, I came twelfth, so I am now going around with a big cigar and a pen for autographs telling anyone that will listen that I'm the twelfth best Double Ironman in the country this year. The usual retort is that I am the twelfth biggest social misfit in the country for doing the Double Ironman in the first place." 

A thoroughly nice chap, Paul juggles family life and work around his training; when lovely boyfriend and I met him cycling last year he told us: "whichever way you look at it, it's going to be a long day". Getting my head around that may be the hardest and, yet, best thing I can do, even if it's just a "single" I'm hoping to take on; meanwhile, Paul is preparing for the triple this year. 

Those closer to home...
Of my family and friends, I appear to be the least hardcore and somewhat slow on the uptake with this challenge; this does mean I'm lucky to have a wealth of experience and inspiration much closer to home. There's Acer who took on Ironman Nice on the hottest day of 2009. One third of the way into the bike course and halfway up the biggest climb of the day, his bike chain snapped. With the nearest race mechanic 10km away at the top of the next pass, Acer was advised to DNF. Instead, he jogged until he could find a tool to rejoin the chain and completed the remaining 100km on a fraction of the gears he started with. All this before running a marathon. Based on their experiences, two cycling friends, Maeve and Helen, advise taking Dioralyte and Immodium, respectively, creating some worrying predictions of what digestive pyrotechnics I might be letting myself in for. My brother, on the other hand, advises ditching any notions of quick transitions and sitting down to a pizza after the bike leg; he thinks that alone would have saved him an hour on the marathon. I just hope his intestinal integrity runs in the family.

For a longer list of inspiring ironfolk, check out Chrissie Wellington's autobiography, "A Life Without Limits".


  1. Just finished Chrissie Wellington's book. It's good - made me want to go and do some training which is a miracle in itself. When is your ironman? xxxxxxxxx

  2. She is HARDCORE. So how is your training going? Are you enjoying it?


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