Want­ing an epic chal­lenge to raise money for char­ity, De­clan Loy de­cided 30 70.3s in 12 months would do it…

220 Triathlon Magazine - - CONTENTS -

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?’


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