The amazing journey of Gerry Duffy, 43, to the Enduroman Ultra Triathlon Champion title — which involves 10 Ironman triathlons over 10 days and nights — ended shortly after midnight on Sunday.
Crossing the line in Hampshire, England, meant the Mullingar man finished the 38.6km (24 miles) of swimming, 1,867km (1,160 miles) of cycling and 418km (260 miles) of running faster than his fellow competitors and within 22 hours of the cutoff time.
He won with an accumulated lead of 19 hours over his nearest challenger. Not only that, but Gerry was the first of only three of the original 20 competitors to finish.
The journey towards this amazing achievement of endurance began 16 years ago when the 108kg chain-smoker decided to change his lifestyle.
Reflecting on the past 10 days, the former 50-a-day smoker spoke about the hardship endured to reach the 6am starting time of each day’s challenge.
Last year, Gerry ran 32 marathons in 32 counties. He describes his story as a simple one of “getting outside your comfort zone”.
He said the challenges of the Ironman are hardly comparable to the challenges faced by many people every day.
“In the tough times I just had to remind myself how lucky I was to be able to do this,” he said.
Gerry was raising funds for Irish Autism Action and has so far raised nearly €6,000 via his page on www.mycharity.ie.