Triathlete completes transformation

IPSWICH JAFFA runner Irvine Marr will tackle one of the world's toughest triathlons this weekend following his two-year transformation from unfit office worker to seven-times marathon runner.

Stuart Watson

IPSWICH JAFFA runner Irvine Marr will tackle one of the world's toughest triathlons this weekend following his two-year transformation from unfit office worker to seven-times marathon runner.

The 39-year-old solicitor will line-up on the elite starters grid for the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii on Saturday thanks to a once in a lifetime entry via a lottery.

There are 2,200 places on the prestigious annual race - which sees competitors swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26 miles - of which only 200 are available to the general public via a lottery. The rest are reserved for the very best triathletes in the world.

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Of those lottery places just three are reserved for Britons aged between 25 and 40 and Marr - who originally hails from Scotland but has lived in Ipswich for the last five years - was one of the lucky recipients.

A further few places were auctioned off and have gone for up to $40,000.

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Marr hopes to finish the race - hailed as the toughest Ironman event in the world because of the sea swim and humidity - in 13 and a half hours.

The race will cap a remarkable rise to fitness for Marr, who admits that just over two years ago he was overweight having done no exercise at all for a number of years.

Marr, a father to two young daughters, explained: “I'm a solicitor in London so the daily commute and life as a father had caught up on me. Two years ago I just decided that 15 stone was too large for a man my age so I started doing a bit of running.”

But while many would have taken up some casual jogging, Marr threw himself into it head first. After joining Ipswich JAFFA running club in July 2006 he quickly set himself an ambitious target of running six marathons the following year.

“Why that number? I honestly don't know why,” said Marr. “I just wanted to set a target.”

Starting as he meant to go on, Marr, who by this time had lost three stone in weight, ran the Paris Marathon in April 2007 in an impressive time of three hours and 31 minutes. Then, just one week later, he finished the London Marathon on 3.42 hours.

Marathons followed in Berlin (3hrs 24min - September 2007), New York (4hrs 4mins - November 2007), Los Angeles (3hrs 45mins - March 2008), London (3hrs 34mins - April 2008) and, most recently, Berlin (3hrs 34mins - September 2008).

Remarkably, Marr had surpassed his goal - running seven marathons in 17 months.

Somewhere along his journey, Marr decided that marathon running wasn't enough and decided to give the triathlon's endurance series, the Ironman events, a try.

In June this year he completed the UK's annual Half-Ironman and, last month, he completed the full UK Ironman in 15 hours at Sherborne, Dorset.

Altogether, Marr has raised a total of £3,500 for various charities.

“I have just got addicted to the rollercoaster of emotions that you feel during a marathon. You start the race really excited, you then get a lot of bad moments when you are running and then get such euphoria when you cross the line.

“I've been able to see parts of cities that I would never have seen. I look back on photos of me two years ago and I can't believe how much better I look and feel because of the running.

“I recommend anyone my age to take it up. I used to come home from work knackered all the time but now I never get tired in the afternoons.

“You have got to be careful not to let the training impact on your family life, but my wife is happy that I have got an interest that gets me away from the stresses of my job.

“I would never have believed that sport would make such a big difference to my life but it has.”

Irvine Marr is running the Ironman World Championship for cancer charity CLIC Sargeant. To donate visit:

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