60 Ironmans in 60 days: Meet Ger Prendergast

The 39-year-old is looking to set a new world record at the Lilliput Adventure Centre

Ger Prendergast with his children at the Lilliput Adventure Centre.

Ger Prendergast with his children at the Lilliput Adventure Centre.

 

Ger Prendergast is handed the phone just after 9pm on Wednesday evening. It’s been one of the wettest and coldest of summer days in living memory and he still has about six miles of running on the first of his 60 full Ironman triathlons over the next 60 days.

That’s the full 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile cycle, and 26.2-mile run, every day, for 60 days straight, and that’s not a misprint. It will be a world record, with quite a few to spare, but that’s looking a bit far ahead.

It’s also getting dark, and with no exact finish time, Prendergast takes the call now rather than postpone any longer. Some of us have dinner to finish and wine to drink.

“Aye, struggling a bit already today, the weather is pretty horrible,” he tells me, somewhere around the Lilliput Adventure Centre in Westmeath, on the shores of Lough Ennel.

“I’m probably better off starting on the worst day, it can only get better. It’s a hard one, and I’m hoping I’ll grow into it, because it is going to be very, very tough. Definitely more mental than anything else.

“And it’s about staying positive, just getting to next marker. I’m in good shape, I’ve done the work, but you just don’t know how it will go.”

“Why?” is the next obvious question. At 39, Prendergast is no stranger to such wild feats of endurance, only five years ago he couldn’t even swim, so like many people of his age found himself drawn into the triathlon to properly test his personal limits. From Ballymun in north Dublin, with a wife a three children, things very quickly went viral in the Ironman sense.

In October 2017, he won the UK ‘Deca’, the extremely extreme event which involves completing 10 Ironman triathlons over 10 consecutive days. Last year he set the goal of completing an Ironman for every one of the 52 weeks of the year, what he called the 52/52, and with that completed, why not aim for a world record?

According to the Guinness World Record books, that’s the 41 consecutive Ironman triathlons that Frenchman Ludovic Chorgnon completed in August 2015, to much fanfare: Prendergast is not doing it for the profile, and definitely not the attention, though part of his inspiration is to help raise awareness, and funds, for Mental Health Ireland,

To break that record, Guinness will require a list of evidence and completed criteria, which is where the Lilliput Adventure Centre comes in. Owner and manager Franky Wright is supporting the attempt, hosting Prendergast for the next 60 days, the swim part in Lough Ennel, the cycle and run around a 10km loop.

“We’re here 25 years, and Tuesday was the worst day we ever had in Lilliput, just horrible,” says Wright. “I wasn’t sure if we’d postpone, but Wednesday was a bit better, still very cold and it rained for most of the afternoon and just cleared up before the run. He’s on his way anyway, looking good so far.”

Prendergast runs his own small gym in Ballymun, working as a personal trainer, which has afforded him the time off work. He’s also blind in his left eye, the result of an accident when he was eight years old, and a devout vegan, a long swimming, cycling and running example of the benefits of a plant-based diet.

Day one of Ironman 60 eventually finished by 10.30pm, 15 and a half hours after starting the swim at 7am; he was on the bike by 9am; finished that by 4.30; then started the run at 5pm; that will be his day, for the 60 days it will take to finish

“The Lilliput Centre is actually made for it,” he says, “the swim course on the lake, perfect location, everything I need is here. I’ve some people coming down over the next week weeks, triathlon clubs, people like that, and it’s open to anyone who might want to come down for a few hours to share some time. I am aiming to beat the world record, first of all. So aiming for 60, just to give myself a target on it.”

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