Iron­man days be­fore turn­ing 50

The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE - BY SARAH DEAN

Corowa’s Craig Ov­erend can now tick com­plet­ing an Iron­man event off his bucket list, achiev­ing the long-life goal just days be­fore his 50th birth­day this month.

The Un­cle Toby’s worker was fast ap­proach­ing the mile­stone age when he set his goal about six months out.

It was not with­out its chal­lenges, with the main one be­ing that Mr Ov­erend had knee surgery sev­eral years ago.

He de­scribed ‘hit­ting a wall’ half way through the 42.2 kilo­me­tre run, which was the last com­po­nent of the three-part event that starts with a 3.86 kilo­me­tres swim, fol­lowed by a 180.25 kilo­me­tre bi­cy­cle ride.

“I was run­ning along and I just hit a wall with an­other 20 odd kilo­me­tres still to go,” Mr Ov­erend said.

“I was start­ing to not feel fan­tas­tic af­ter about 12 hours out on the road and all of the aches and pains were start­ing to set­tle in.

“I just had all of these thoughts rac­ing through my mind at that stage.

“It came down to mind over mat­ter and I told my­self that if I didn’t fin­ish it now, I never would.”

That thought and de­ter­mi­na­tion was enough to keep him go­ing, com­plet­ing the event in 14 hours and five min­utes.

Watch­ing Iron­man high­lights on tele­vi­sion over thirty years ago sparked his ini­tial in­ter­est.

“I used to think to my­self that one day I was go­ing to do it,” he said.

“The abil­ity to de­vote time in my younger days just wasn’t there and as I got older it was al­ways some­thing I wanted to do and so I set my goals.

“It was one of the things I wanted to do be­fore I was 50, so it was on the bucket list.”

It was ticked off his bucket list ear­lier this month.

“I made my goal with 18 days to spare,” Mr Ov­erend said.

Mr Ov­erend said he took part in a half Iron­man event in Mel­bourne two months ago as a ‘tester’.

More than six months of what Mr Ov­erend called “ad­di­tional train­ing” was in­volved to help get him over the fin­ish line for the May 7 event in Port Mac­quarie.

Early morn­ings were re­quired to squeeze in the gym be­fore work, as well as swim­ming when he could find time.

“Ad­di­tional train­ing was needed to do this,” Mr Ov­erend said.

“I would be in the gym between 5.30am and 6am most morn­ings or out on the bike dur­ing the week and mainly bike rid­ing on the week­end.”

Mr Ov­erend also rode with Corowa Ruther­glen rid­ing group, ‘CRABS’, along­side Corowa’s Bri­ony Wil­lett who re­cently com­pleted a six-day cy­cling tour in Ja­pan to raise funds for can­cer re­search.

“I did lots of bike train­ing with Bri­ony and a cou­ple of the other guys,” he said.

“We were go­ing out to help her train and in the back of my mind, and I never told the oth­ers in the group, but I was train­ing to do this at the same time.”

His train­ing was based on be­ing able to fin­ish an Iron­man event and not to come out win­ning the event.

He had a small idea of what he was in for af­ter par­tic­i­pat­ing in shorter course triathlons, in­clud­ing the Corowa Triathlon and the Ruther­glen Triathlon in pre­vi­ous years.

One of his big­gest hur­dles was the swim­ming leg of the event.

“I am not a strong swim­mer, so to get my head around swim­ming 3.8 kilo­me­tres was a real chal­lenge,” Mr Ov­erend said.

“If some­one had said to me a few years ago that I was go­ing to swim 3.8 kilo­me­tres, I would have thought that was never go­ing to hap­pen.”

Mr Ov­erend re­called the mo­ment he told his mates about his Iron­man goal.

“My wife cer­tainly knew it was some­thing I al­ways wanted to do, so she wasn’t shocked that I was go­ing to do it this year,” he said.

It was a dif­fer­ent story when he told his friends.

“When friends and the rest of the fam­ily found out about it there was a bit of dis­be­lief and shock,” he said.

Mr Ov­erend hopes to en­cour­age oth­ers to pur­sue their fit­ness goals.

“Any­one can do what I have done, it’s just a mat­ter of putting in the ef­fort for the train­ing and hav­ing the com­mit­ment to do it,” he said.

His wife Danielle, who went along to the event to cheer him on, could not be any prouder.

“He is very in­spi­ra­tional to me, and he purely did this event for his own sake, to cross it off the bucket list,” she said.

“What sur­prises me though, is how peo­ple have re­acted to him do­ing this - peo­ple are so im­pressed and in­spired.

“But if you ask Craig, it’s noth­ing out of the or­di­nary, he thinks if you put in the train­ing then any­one can achieve this.

“He’s mod­est and very much a quiet achiever.

“Once he puts his mind to some­thing, he al­ways fol­lows through with it.

“I never doubted him for a minute and knew he would find the in­ner strength to push through and fin­ish the event.

“There was no way he was ever go­ing to give up, that’s for sure.

“I will be in­ter­ested to see what his next chal­lenge is as he will have some­thing up his sleeve.”

Craig Ov­erend drop­ping his bike off to the tran­si­tion area a day be­fore the Iron­man event.

Craig Ov­erend run­ning in the Iron­man event at Port Mac­quarie ear­lier this month.

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