STEVE Jackson is no stranger to pushing himself to his endurance limits, but when it came to tackling his first Ironman, it was “a different beastie”.
The Bathurst Wallabies Triathlon Club member tackled his first full Ironman distance race – a 3.9 kilometre swim, 180.2km cycle and 42.2km run – in Cairns on Sunday.
He made it to the finish line after 14 hours, 11 minutes and 58 seconds, an effort which ranked him 18th in his men’s 60-64 years division.
Jackson said the experience, especially running the last 10km in front of a large, vocal crowd, was something which will stick with him.
“I do have a running background, I have a history of marathons and ultras in my dim, dark past, so that set me up for knowing what was involved with being out there for 12 to 14 hours,” he said.
“It was my personal worst marathon ever. I’ve run a marathon in the Sahara Desert on soft sand and that was faster, I ran the marathon at Boston three months after breaking my neck, so not running a step, and that was faster.
“So this was certainly the hardest thing I’ve done in many a year.”
Jackson’s marathon split was a 6:02.52 – an effort which was still the 18th quickest of any competitor in his age group.
It also ticked an item off his bucket list for triathlon, which he only took up last year.
“I took up tri 12 months ago with the Wallabies and just did a couple of the local club races which are 100 metre swim, 16 kay bike ride and a five kay run and enjoyed it and was doing reasonably well at that,” he said.
“I thought ‘Oh well, I might as well keep stepping up’ and the Ironman was one of the things that was hanging out there.
“The family wanted to see the Great Barrier Reef, so the trade-off was that I do Cairns and we go and visit the reef afterwards. It was great to include the family in the event.
“The support network in Bathurst has been amazing, I’m just blown away by the support from so many different people … it’s been a spectacular community.”
Before Jackson embarked on the run leg, he tackled the tricky swim in 1:28.42 and cycle in 6:29.39.
“The swim was like a washing machine, there was a 30 kilometre an hour southerly blowing which stirred it up. You swam into the waves and into the wind on the way out,” he said.
“Coming back you seemed to have a crosswind all the way back, so that was hard work, then I took a bit of a tumble in transition … bit of a hip and shoulder injury, but that was fine.
“The last 70 kay [on the bike] from Port Douglas all the way back to Cairns was that 30 kilometre an hour head wind. That was hard work.
“The whole way I was thinking ‘I’ve still got to run a marathon, this does not make sense, this does not compute’. But I got there, I gutted it out.
“It was just a different beastie, the various disciplines made it very different. But been there, done that, got the t-shirt.”
While Jackson successfully completed his first Ironman, fellow Bathurst triathlete Keith Tuynman notched up his eighth finish in Cairns.
He placed 55th in his 50-54 years men’s age division, clocking a time of 13:05.56. His swim was the 14th quickest in his category.
“We bumped into each other a few times in the run and at the start for the swim. Keith’s done it so many times now he’s got it down pat, this was his eighth one up here and he knows his stuff,” Jackson said.