Paul and Ali’s joy at NZ ironman

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Former Banchory Academy pupil Paul Matthews and his wife Ali have returned home from New Zealand after taking part in an Ironman event.

It was the first time Paul and Ali had competed in an Ironman competition and Paul spoke to the Piper about their experience in New Zealand.

“We are both very happy to have completed the race, it was a super tough event so it was an amazing feeling to cross the finish line.”

The Challenge Wanaka event involved a 2.4 mile open swim, 112 mile cycle followed by a marathon run. “The swim actually passed without too many problems. I would even go as far as to say I enjoyed it. It took little over an hour to complete this.”

“The next section was the 180km cycle which wasn’t so fun it was tough, the first section went past very quickly as it was mostly down hill with huge tail winds. I think I was averaging close to 30mph for a while.

“However, after reaching the turning point things quickly changed and 30mph became around 8mph. It was a horrible prospect knowing that there was still over half the course to complete and the pace was so slow .”

The final section of the race was a gruelling marathon run which pushed the couple to the limits.

Paul said: “Fatigue was beginning to set in and the conditions weren’t helping, so I was really struggling to maintain my pace. It’s quite blurred now, but I just kept remembering a tip that one of the professionals had said at the race briefing, which was ‘what ever you do, don’t walk’. It really becomes so hard not to but you just keep telling yourself it will be over soon and the quicker you do it the sooner you’ll be able to enjoy that ice cold beer waiting at the finish line. So after what seemed a lifetime, I reached the finishing area and managed to put on a little sprint to make it look like I was still feeling great.”

“One of the first things they do is weigh you when you get back to make sure you aren’t too dehydrated. I was shocked to just on the scales and see I had lost 5kgs! Then one of the medics came and said I had to spend some time in the medical tent while I took in some fluids. After a while I started to feel a little better and hobbled round to the finish area to cheer Ali across the finish line.”

Paul finished in a time of 11hrs 39mins and Ali’s time was 13hrs 35mins.

“After the race, we sat outside a bar and enjoyed that well-earned beer! It was a great atmosphere and people were still finishing the race for several hours afterwards, as the evening went on the crowd at the finish line got more and more supportive, finally welcoming the final few home at 11:30pm, to a big fireworks display.

“Overall we really enjoyed the event and had a brilliant time in New Zealand. Although the event was tough we now know that we can do it and hopefully it will mean the next one will feel much easier.”