Irishman wins Deca Ironman event

Mon, Jun 13, 2011, 01:00

Irishman Gerry Duffy has won the United Kingdom's first Deca Ironman Challenge after 10 days of gruelling endurance events.

The former 17-stone chainsmoker crossed the finishing line late last night more than 19 accumulated hours ahead of the remaining competitors. Just three of the 20 entrants completed the race.

The Deca Ironman Challenge is a long-distance triathlon consisting of approximately 18 hours of swimming, cycling and running every day for 10 days.

Duffy (42), from Mullingar, said: “I’m just grateful to have finished it, and also, I guess, that I don’t have to do it again in the morning.”

The motivational speaker and author started running in 1995 when he was several stone overweight and smoking 50 cigarettes a day. He made headlines last year when he toured every county in Ireland, completing 32 marathons in 32 days, and raised over €500,000 for charity with his running partner Ken Whitelaw.

Duffy was inspired to reduce his weight after seeing a photo of himself which he barely recognised. “The hardest thing is, sometimes, making the decision to do something about it – you certainly can’t run until you decide to run," he said.

Duffy lined up with his competitors every morning last week before 6am to begin a 3.8km (2.4 mile) swim. On the other side of the lake, they would start a 180km (112 mile) cycle, before beginning, at around 5pm, a full-length marathon of 42km (26.2 miles). Those who were unable to complete the course within a set time each day were disqualified.

On Saturday, Duffy suffered a shin injury that he feared could have ended his race. “I was in bits with pain, and had to hobble back to the campervan,” he said. “I had no idea if I was going to be able to walk, let alone run.”

The injury remained with him throughout the final day, but he completed the marathon - a 1.5km loop running up and down hills – almost four hours ahead of the time limit.

“I thought to myself, ‘I’ve 10 or 11 hours to finish the marathon, and at this point if I have to walk or crawl to the finish I will,’” he said. He crossed the finish line at midnight.

Duffy, who flew home to Ireland tonight to a welcome from family and friends at Dublin airport, said he has no plans to enter a similar event any time soon but wouldn't rule it out.

“I knew it was going to be hard, but I had no conception of just how difficult it was going to be,” he said. "I’ve no desire to do anything greater than this . . . it’s just too hard."