WHY I TRI

GB para­triath­lete and au­thor Haseeb Ahmed is al­ready the fastest blind Iron­man ath­lete in the world, but he be­lieves he can go faster, much faster

220 Triathlon Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Fastest blind IMer Haseeb Ahmed

“In Barcelona, I did a 4:19hr run but I’m ca­pa­ble of 3:30hrs”

As soon as I crossed the line at the

2016 Iron­man Barcelona, I was whisked straight to the med­i­cal tent. I had noth­ing left in me. It was my first Iron­man, and I’d over­cooked it on the bike. The first half we did in 2.5hrs, but we fin­ished in 5:08:01. On the run, which is my strong­est dis­ci­pline, my legs just fell off. I’d done a sub-3hr stand­alone marathon in Lon­don in 2014, but in Barcelona it was a 4:19:03. From six miles on I just hit the wall. I was at the point of giv­ing up. At one point, I turned to my guide, Dun­can [Shea-Sim­monds], and said, ‘You don’t know how this feels.’ He just said ‘I think I do mate.’ But he kept me go­ing. He’s an in­cred­i­ble guy and ath­lete.

It was won­der­ful to know that I’d

bro­ken the record [in 11:03:31] on my daugh­ter Aye­sha’s birth­day. She was 20 on that day, and she was out there to see me achieve it. I want to re­turn to Barcelona next Oc­to­ber. I’ve found a crack­ing guy, Marc Laith­waite, who thinks I can do a sub-10hr. Tak­ing a whole hour off is not im­pos­si­ble, be­cause I did the Out­law this year, and knocked about 13mins off [Haseeb used three dif­fer­ent guides at the Out­law, so the time wasn’t clas­si­fied]. I ac­tu­ally did 1.2km more than any­one else on the run be­cause they took me round the lake nine times for safety rea­sons. My run was about 3:57hrs, but I think I’m ca­pa­ble of a 3:30hr run.

I’ll prob­a­bly do one or two

Olympic dis­tances and a cou­ple of mid­dles be­fore Barcelona. Mark and I might do a 100-mile time trial as well. We’ve yet to train to­gether. Ac­tu­ally, we’re yet to meet!

The first week af­ter hear­ing that

my cat­e­gory wasn’t go­ing to be in­cluded in the Rio Par­a­lympics, I was ac­tu­ally okay. I was shocked with the de­ci­sion, be­cause it was such a com­pet­i­tive field, but I felt re­lief – I thought I can now relax a bit! And then it just hit me re­ally hard. It’d been such a big part of my life and I was so look­ing for­ward to go­ing full time on the squad and tak­ing a sab­bat­i­cal from work. I was floored, it was such an abrupt end.

For peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties,

triathlon’s re­ally not the cheap­est sport. To have some fund­ing to do a sport that po­ten­tially leads onto the greatness of do­ing a Par­a­lympics is ex­tremely im­por­tant for peo­ple’s con­fi­dence and well-be­ing. I’m a great be­liever that more cat­e­gories should be in­cluded.

I was orig­i­nally di­ag­nosed in 1987

but didn’t get a guide dog un­til 2005. They are ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic, won­der­ful com­pan­ions. Walt, my cur­rent dog, takes me ev­ery­where. My first died all of a sud­den in 2013, he was only nine years old. There’s a chap­ter ded­i­cated to him in my book, called The Mighty Quin.

MARATHON PHO­TOS

HASEEB AHMED Haseeb, 48, is an equal­ity and di­ver­sity lead at the Uni­ver­sity Hos­pi­tal, Le­ices­ter. He started to lose his sight at 10 years old, but wasn’t given a di­ag­no­sis for an­other seven years. His first book From Blind Man to Iron­man is out now (ama­zon.co.uk), priced £12.99.

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