“What would it take to do an Ironman?”

Blackdog’s Tesco Design Head on his biggest challenge yet.

By Blackdog - 2 years ago

Blackdog ironman

Many of us would consider Lanzarote a relaxing summer holiday destination, but for Ed Seymour, Blackdog’s Tesco Design Head, the Spanish island will forever conjure up rather different associations…

Ironman Lanzarote is a gruelling triathlon, widely considered to be one of the toughest one-day sporting events in the world. It has taken place for the last 30 years, making it one of the longest-standing Ironman races in Europe, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, has an unusually high dropout rate.

Read Ed’s interview on the race here:

“It’s a very hard course. I’ve heard that nearly a third of the people that entered the water didn’t make it over the finishing line. It was pretty tough this year.”

The punishing course commences with a 3.8km ocean swim, followed by a 180.2km hilly bike course and concludes with a marathon. It boasts an elevation gain of 2,424m for its bike course alone, and all this in temperatures of around 26°C.

But what makes this race particularly arduous are the gales.

“It’s renowned for its wind. A lot of the first 100km was into a headwind. And then when the wind stopped, the two hard climbs started.”

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So how does someone train for such a mammoth race?

“Training generally consists of six days a week; three of those are double days, so you’re looking at maybe a swim in the morning and a bike or run in the evening, and then that leaves the weekends for the longer training bike and run sessions. It’s been almost a year of training all in all.”

Such a hefty training regime clearly demands a lot of discipline, and surely a fair amount of natural talent? Have you always been athletic?

“I wasn’t particularly sporty when I was younger. I would do the occasional run. I didn’t swim at all. I didn’t even own a bike until 2017. It was almost like, right, I’m going to train for an Ironman, I’d better buy a bike!”

How did you go from occasionally running and cycling to taking on one of the toughest Ironmans?

“I was on holiday and I was reading a book by the big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton, while doing nothing, obviously, on a sun lounger, and I just felt inspired to do something. To get up, start running. And then that turned into obstacle racing about a year later.”

And how did this lead on to triathlons?

“I fancied a change. A friend of mine was a triathlete, and we were going to swap – he was going to do an obstacle race and I was going to do a triathlon. He’s still yet to do an obstacle race, I would like to point out!

“But actually, it was the Ironman that I wanted to do first and foremost. I think because I’d been to Lanzarote a few times I was aware that the Ironman was there, and I thought, what would it take to do an Ironman? I think as soon as I thought it, that was the seed sewn.”

Once you’d committed to taking on this challenge, what drove you through all those hours of training?

“I wanted to use the race to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Unfortunately, I lost my dad to pancreatic cancer in December 2020, so raising funds became a big motivator.”

That must have been a big driving force on the day itself too. Did you have supporters with you in Lanzarote?

“I had some friends come out with me. Their support was brilliant. Every time I came in to transition, where you change from one discipline to another, they would be cheering me on.”

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And speaking of the race, despite all your training, it must have been tough?

“I think the pain just comes with pushing yourself and finding out how far you can go. A lot of it’s mental. It would be so easy just to get off the bike and go, that’s it, I’m done, but you just try not to let that in, just keep it going.”

What was the high point?

“The high was definitely finishing! Absolutely.

“And there was an amazing moment at the start of the swim – the sun hadn’t quite come up, so after about 15 minutes I was swimming into the sunrise. Spectacular, even if I couldn’t quite see where I was going!”

If you had to sum it up in one word, what would it be?

“Accomplishment. Raising over £1,200 for CRUK is amazing; everyone has been so generous. And finally crossing the Ironman Lanzarote finish line after not only a hard challenge in one day, but the months of training through the winter. It seems ages since I first decided to do the event over two years ago… and now I’ve done it.”

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