Roe Valley legal eagle, Peter Jack proved he has plenty of mettle after completing Ireland’s first indoor ironman challenge in an impressive time of just over 12 hours.
The Limavady solicitor put himself through the gruelling challenge for charity, Books For Africa for Limavady Rotary Club, of which he is a member, at the Roe Valley Leisure Centre on Friday, when he celebrated his 54th birthday. He swam 152 lengths of the pool, cycled 180kms on the gym bike and ran a marathon on a treadmill.
Surrounded by supporters, friends and family throughout the day, he said while he will do something athletic to celebrate each birthday, he has no plans to do a repeat of Friday.
“What have I learned about myself by doing this? That the mind is far stronger than the body and that if you have a goal and a reason and a purpose for doing something you can achieve anything,” he said, revealing he was back on the saddle on Sunday!
Recalling each part of the challenge, Mr. Jack said: “The swim was easy because my good friend Mervyn Kelly from the Triangle Triathlon Club swam in front of me and I was able to draft behind him. His children Alberta and Patrick, very kindly counted our lengths which means we were completely able to zone out and just go up and down until somebody said ‘oh look – you’ve finished’. The bike was also easy because you didn’t have to deal with wind or hills, obviously. The only hard bit of the bike was putting up with daytime TV on the screen in front of me! The hardest part was undoubtedly the run because it was really warm in that gym and when you are running on a treadmill you have to, by definition, use exactly the same stride pattern all the time.That is monotonous and quite hard on the joints. The run was also hard because my longest run in training had been 15K so I had to increase that to 42K!”
He admits he struggled in the first half of the run, but said what got him through was the unswerving and wonderful support of my Triangle Club colleagues, particularly Stephen Keown, who did the marathon beside me. He kept cajoling me, telling me I was doing well, and he told me to get to the next 20 or 30 minutes or the next 5 kilometres and he really got me through it. He was a great man to be in the trenches beside.”
Throughout the huge challenge, Mr. Jack gained 0.8lbs.
“I am really pleased that I got my hydration and nutrition correct,” he said. “Obviously I didn’t have any breakfast because it would have been too close to the swim start at 7:00am so as soon as I got on the bike I started refuelling with bananas, power bars, flapjacks, mars bars, sandwiches (which my wife had kindly prepared the night before) energy drinks, electrolyte replacement drinks and jelly babies – basically anything.”
The swim took Peter 1 hour 16 (including a radio interview). The ride took him slightly under six hours on the actual bike, plus he took a break every hour to go and wash his sweat drenched face.
“The run, I am fairly, sure I did in 4 hours 59 minutes and the overall time was 12:48.55. Would I do it again? I’ll do something athletic to celebrate each birthday but when you’ve climbed Everest once you don’t need to climb it again!”
The best part of the challenge is that Peter has raised at least £1,500 for the charity, “thanks to my legal brethren and people who gave contributions to my bucket on the day in the leisure centre”.
“I’d particularly like to thank the staff and management of the Leisure Centre, especially Barry Toorish and Cathy Farren who came in early to open up. All of the Leisure Centre staff were so helpful that day and got me anything I needed and encouraged me and really made a crucial difference,” he said. “I’d also like to thank my Triangle Triathlon Club mates who swam, biked and ran beside me. My Rotarians who came in to support me during the day and all those particularly primary school classes and well wishers who came in. I was knocked out by their support particularly and lastly I’d like to thank my wife, Sharon and son Mark who appeared at various stages during the day and who brought in a wonderful Ironman Birthday Cake and a bottle of champers which really spurred me on near the end.”
So what and when is the next challenge?
“I am going to Borneo in April. I am going to climb some mountains, go white water rafting, canoe to two villages in the middle of the Rain Forest and hopefully there will be some long distance stuff later this year. My usual challenge is to keep sane, sleek and solvent!”