Tom takes up iron challenge

IT'S the sort of challenge that would bring even the most enthusiastic of fitness fanatics out in a cold sweat.Taking around 12 agonising hours to complete and comprising a gruelling 2.4 mile swim, a full marathon and 112 mile cylce ride the Iron man triatholon is the ultimate test.

IT'S the sort of challenge that would bring even the most enthusiastic of fitness fanatics out in a cold sweat.

Taking around 12 agonising hours to complete and comprising a gruelling 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a full marathon, the Iron Man triathlon is the ultimate test of mental and physical endurance.

While many would argue the muscle-busting race is more akin to torture than a healthy pursuit, Suffolk man Tom Powell is today ready to rise to the punishing challenge.

The 26-year-old former Holbrook High School student has been in training for the last four months, swimming, cycling and running for up to 20 hours a week.

Sporty Tom, who is originally from Harkstead, said: “It's been tough, but I just keep thinking about what it will feel like to finally cross the finishing line.

“The training has been hard, and it's turned me into a bit of a social recluse. It makes you really tired and you lack motivation to do other things.

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“I haven't been drinking much alcohol for the last few weeks and I won't be drinking at all until after Iron Man.”

Part of Tom's demanding training programme will include a swim up the River Orwell, followed by a bike ride to London, and then a 20-mile run through the capital's streets.

He said: “My training spreads over six days a week and includes a two-hour run on a Friday and a five-hour bike ride on a Saturday with a rest day on a Sunday.

“Most weeks I have a sports massage to ease the muscle aches and pains.

“My girlfriend Emma doesn't really understand why I'm doing it, but she's very supportive and doesn't complain when I get up at 6am on a Saturday and don't see her again until the afternoon.”

Iron Man takes place at Sherborne Castle in Dorset on August 19, with competitors setting off at 6am.

Tom, a personal trainer in London's Shepherds Bush, will have to wake three hours earlier to eat a nutritious meal of porridge, nuts and toast, before getting in more sleep.

During the race, he will refuel regularly with 120-calorie energy gels, energy drinks and chocolate bars.

Tom, who has just eight per cent body fat, said: “I imagine I will feel pretty horrible at the end and I'm not sure if I will do it again, but I know it will all be worth it.”

Tom is raising money for Cancer Research UK. To sponsor him, visit www.justgiving.com/ironmantom

Are you taking on a gruelling challenge? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Iron Man competitors will expend up to 14,000 calories during the race.

The first Iron Man was in Hawaii in 1978.

Fifteen athletes lined up on Waikiki beach for the inaugural contest. Twelve of the 15 finished the race.

Hawaii is still the venue for the Iron Man World Championships.

Triathlon dates back to 1974, when it was established in Southern California.

Source: www.ironmanuk.com

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