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Bondi Lifeguards Take The Challenge Triumphantly

By Sarah Healey on May 1, 2013 in News

Photo: Grant Kenny

Photo: Grant Kenny

A handful of the fittest lifeguards from the Bondi Rescue team recently took part in what many regard as the most physically and mentally intense race known to man – the Ironman triathlon.

At the end of March, lifeguards Ryan ‘Whippet’ Clark, Andrew ‘Reidy’ Reid, Adriel ‘Bacon’ Young, Quinn Darragh, Greg ‘Bisho’ Bishop and Bronte surfer Gavin Stevenson travelled south to compete in the Melbourne Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship. To add to their achievement, they decided to raise money for ‘4 ASD Kids’, a charity that assists children and families dealing with autism.

Last year, the boys participated in the Ironman in two teams, completing one leg each – and didn’t find it as challenging as they imagined.

“We were inspired while watching an old lady who was about 72 finish the three legs in about 16 and a half hours. We were all on the beers by then and enjoying the night and then she crossed the line. We said, ‘If she can do it, we can do it!’” recalled Whippet.

The adrenaline of the 2,200 male and female competitors surged as they embarked on the 1.9km swim at Frankston Beach (the intended 3.8km had to be halved due to treacherous water conditions), followed by a 180km bike ride and a 42.2km run to St Kilda. The conditions were severe as they tackled 1.5m swells and wind gusts up to 30 knots.

“It kept the temperature down, which was good,” said Whippet. “If it was boiling hot it would’ve been torture!”

The team spent months in hard-core training to ensure their bodies were in peak condition. Being a lifeguard doesn’t require much in the way of peddling technique, so they practically lived in Turbo Studio at Queens Park to improve their cycling skills.

“We can all run and swimming’s our strong point, so the bike was the most foreign to us, but we put in the time and effort and we all rode pretty well on the day,” Whippet said.

Bacon chose a rather unique training routine, deciding to dodge through the city’s partygoers.

“When I was on the earlies at work I was going for runs at 3am along Oxford Street and through Kings Cross – that was interesting to say the least!” he laughed.

It definitely paid off. Bacon blitzed down the finishing chute, taking third place in the 25–29 years age group and finishing 49th overall with a time of 8 hours 38 minutes.

Undertaking a full-distance Ironman is the ultimate test of physical and mental strength, and after nine hours you might start to question your sanity.

“Any tough times you had through the race were quickly overcome by a sense of achievement, and the fact that we were helping such an amazing charity definitely helped us over the finish line,” Whippet said.

Reidy staunchly stuck to his race plan and paced himself over the three legs. However, when he found out Whippet was within his sights, he decided to put the hammer down in an attempt to overtake him.

“I was freaking out that he was going to catch me, then an aid station volunteer shoved a stick of Vegemite in my mouth, which was absolutely putrid but seemed to do the trick!” Whippet said.

Still, it wasn’t enough and Reidy ended up overtaking Whippet at the back end of the marathon.

The Bondi boys all praised the support of their friends and family who were there on the day spurring them on to the finish line – a moment none of them will forget in a hurry.

Unfortunately, a sudden bout of illness forced Bisho to sit on the sideline on the day, but he was still there to support his mates at the end.

“I was so proud. They all exceeded their expectations and it was their first time competing in an Ironman race,” he said. “It was just amazing.”

The team members want to thank USM Events, Giant Bikes, Body Science and Orca for all their support. So far they have raised $2,300 for 4 ASD Kids. To help them reach their goal of $5,000, you can donate by visiting