WHY I TRI
Wanting an epic challenge to raise money for charity, Declan Loy decided 30 70.3s in 12 months would do it…
When my first two children came along, I packed in my job to be there for my family. I was teaching my kids that whatever they focused on, they could achieve, and I thought if I set something big, they’ll be inspired.
I wanted to do something for kids, but an Ironman wasn’t big enough. After my first Ironman 70.3, I had a flash of inspiration and looked up the world record for the amount of middle-distance races completed in 12 months. It was 23 – I thought: ‘I could do that.’ Thirty was just a nice even number.
‘One step at a time’ became my motto. Everyone said I was mad, even my coach. But I wouldn’t allow myself to realise how big it was. I kept playing tricks and turning things on their side – my coach said: “Declan, you can’t race every weekend”. I replied ‘what if I was only ‘training’ every weekend?’. After my first few races, I went for massages and my physio said: “You’re finished, there’s not a hope in hell you can do this”.
‘It’s not an injury, it’s a niggle’ I’d tell myself. In race 29, doubt crept in my mind, my hip flexors gave in, but my daughter said “Stop feeling sorry for yourself”, which is just what I needed to hear to continue.
You’d think after everything I went through in 29 races, I’d get a bit of luck in the final one. But bad weather forced cancellation for half of the field. Luckily, I was already out there in torrential rain. It was a metaphor for the journey as I travelled the world by myself, then the final celebration was rained on!
The real challenge was the mental side, plus the logistics of finance, family, missed flights, and sponsorship. There was one race, Marbella, where I didn’t raise any money (number 19), I got robbed and did my back in. After returning home, I reached a low point. People say in the ‘darkest moment comes your brightest hour’. Later that day, I got a phone call to say a sponsor had come in with €5k.
“This challenge taught me that it’s okay to rest but never give in”
In total we raised around €74,000 [to date]. I like to set goals, so that means I need another challenge to reach my total fundraising target of €150,000.
For life lessons, this challenge taught me that if you set a goal to achieve, even with the storms, wind, rain and cold, it’s okay to rest but never give in.
The idea of swimming, cycling and running around the 32 counties in Ireland has been bubbling for the last few months. That’s 32 Ironmans in 32 days. You can’t do something like this [the 30 70.3s] and then just stop. I said in my speech at the end-of-challenge celebration night: ‘Are we at the end, or are we at the beginning?’