The time is 3:28am on the 8th of December 2013 and I’m awake preparing the the toughest challenge I have ever faced.

The SunSmart IRONMAN Western Australia in Busselton. 226kms of continued exercise.

On the 8th of December it was:

First time I had ever swam 3.8kms in open water

First time I had ever cycled 180km on a bike

First time I had ever ran a marathon

First Australian above knee amputee to complete a Full IRONMAN

First above knee amputee to finish an Ironman that quickly WORLDWIDE!

Finally the 24+ hour weeks of training has finally come to an end and its race day.

Conditions were perfect… a cool 26C slightly overcast with light winds. I made my way down to the swim start and everyone was already in the water ready to start by the time I got there. Rather than trying to hop my way through the 1500 athletes I relaxed and waited for the race to start, then I started swimming my way through the crowd.

Ironman’s are stressful… There is so much to remember. Forgetting one small thing makes a massive difference over 226km.

Pre–race plan:
Only think about 1 section of the race at a time.
Make sure I relax during the swim as I know its my strength and IRONMAN’s are not won on the 3.8km swim.

I found a rhythm that was comfortable and tried to find someone to draft behind so I didn’t have to sight and make sure I was swimming in the right direction. The water was amazingly clear and flat. You could see the ocean floor for most of the swim. I finished the swim in 1:00:19 and an overall place of 199 out of 1577 athletes.

Feeling great out of the water it was time to get ready for the 180km cycle. In transition I took my time and Natalie my wife packed my cycling jersey full of nutrition and salts tablets.

My cycling jersey had:
4 vegemite sandwiches
4 chocolate and peanut butter bars
400 grams of Dinosaurs lollies
3 gels and
12 salt tablets.

The most important preparation for an Ironman is nutrition. So many people don’t finish or struggle due to badly planned nutrition.

The first 60km lap of the ride felt great. The wind was still light and I as able to maintain a great speed on the bike with only one Toilet break(damn my tiny blatter). Second lap started to hurt and I didn’t like the bike so much anymore, but I knew I was still maintaining a good speed.

Final lap of the cycle and I was well and truly ready to get off this bike and we were no longer friends. A few more toilet stops a long the way as well as witnessing a few crashes and a lot of punctured tyres, but I managed to finish the ride without any problems.

Getting off the bike I realised how tired I was and that I possibly didn’t eat enough during the cycle. I finished the bike in 5:37:02 and in 497th place.

Back in transition it was time to change legs again and get the running leg on. Starting the run was hard work as my legs weren’t ready to change how they had been moving for the last 6 hours. After finishing the first lap of the run 10km I remember thinking oh crap I have 3 more laps of this… how am i going to make this?

I kept pushing through the pain barriers and at the 30km mark when everything was starting to really hurt, I could feel that my little toe nail was no longer attached, but the crowd was extremely motivating coming in on the final lap and running down the finishing shoot is an experience that words can’t explain. I had both my arms out and was high-fiving all the spectators as they cheered me to the finishing line.

I finished the run in 4:54:29 and placed 692nd in a total time of 11:49:20.

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Brant Garvey

Author Brant Garvey

Paralympian & Professional Speaker

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