Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Hawaii the Lads as North Duo Chase Ironman Glory; IRONMAN

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Hawaii the Lads as North Duo Chase Ironman Glory; IRONMAN

Article excerpt

TWO Newcastle men of steel are preparing for the challenge of a lifetime and to take on some of the finest athletes on the planet when they compete in next weekend's Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, writes JACK BROOKE-BATTERSBY.

Gareth Huxley of Heaton and Hedley Fletcher of Blaydon qualified for the gruelling competition after July's Iron Man UK in Bolton.

On race day on Saturday, the Ryton Triathlon Club pair will have little time to enjoy their idyllic surroundings as they endure a 2.4-mile open-water swim, a 112-mile cycle - far in excess of many Tour de France Stages - and, just to top it off ,a marathon-distance run of 26.2 miles at the end.

When qualifying, both put in a herculean effort to complete the event in little over 10 hours.

Indeed Huxley, 45, was quickest overall in his age category in Lancashire - and he cannot wait to jet off and get started.

He said: "It is the pinnacle of the sport and it is what we all work towards.

"I want the badge and the t-shirt, it is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity - to be among the elite - it will be a massive buzz."

However, it was something a bit closer to home which got Huxley on the road to competing at the very highest level. He added: "I have played a bit of league cricket in the past and I have no background in running but it was the Great North Run which really got me into it.

"Since doing my first I have run it five or six times and I have been doing triathlons since 2005."

For 42-year-old Fletcher, however, there has been even less time to go from complete novice to near-superhuman levels of fitness.

He said: "I am only in my third year of this.

"I feel a bit dizzy to be honest, I never expected to qualify for the World Championships.

"I used to do a spinning class where people would talk about the triathlon club and I just thought I would give it a go - it was probably a bit of a mid-life crisis! …

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