Ironman days before turning 50
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.