Valley ironmen steeled for Kona


By samuel darroch

LATROBE Valley triathletes Murray Brady and Sam Beveridge have taken vastly disparate paths to reach the pinnacle of the ironman world.

The pair qualified for the premier event on the international endurace calendar, the Kona Ironman in Hawaii, via last month’s Melbourne Ironman, a perennial pursuit for Brady and an unexpected new frontier for Beveridge.

Brady’s (nine hours, six minutes and two seconds) ninth place in the 45 to 49 age group in Melbourne was the culmination of 26 years of triathlon competition, while Beveridge’s (9.22.51) second place finish in the 18 to 24 category came in his first ironman race.

The figurative roads to Hawaii were divergent, but the physical trail was a shared hardship – a gruelling 3.8 kilometre ocean swim, 180 kilometre bike ride and 42.2 kilometre marathon in wet and windy Melbourne weather, which was so rough the swim leg had to be cut in half.

“The conditions made it pretty tough, especially the bike… the crosswinds must have been doing 50 to 60 kilometres per hour on the day (and) the deep dish wheels catch the wind and throw you around a bit,” Beveridge said.

“It was actually pretty hilly the run… the last 12kms I was suffering.

“At one point we were running alongside the beach and the wind was coming off the water right in your face and I wanted to go home at that point.”

With a brigade of friends and family cheering him on, Beveridge found the strength to fight off his nearest rival by two minutes, while Brady’s grit and determination came from another source.

“I use a lot of mantras and numerous motivational techniques to maintain my focus… you can switch off afterwards,” Brady said.

“In five hours on the bike you can find yourself drifting off and thinking about things and you just see your speed start to drift off and your intensity (drops).

“I’m talking to myself all day… there’s private little things I tell myself to keep myself focused and on my game.”

The duo will now take a month off before regrouping for a concerted six-month push, and will benefit from the experience of their training cohort which contains several former Kona competitors.

The group of about 30 triathletes from the area includes Ben McLean, whose qualification to the Hawaiian world championship sparked Brady’s belief it was possible.

“I was ecstatic (to qualify) because I must admit this summer it’s all I focused on,” Brady said.

“I got stuck into training and we did a lot of training together… it boosts you to another level.”

Both men said their goal at Kona was to do themselves justice and leave everything out there on the famous course.

“It’s known as the toughest single day sporting event in history… it’s just the pinnacle of endurance sport so you’ve got to bring your A game to it,” Beveridge said.

For Brady, a qualified strength and conditioning and triathlon coach, the endurance discipline is a reflection of life.

“If you can do an ironman… you tick those sort of races off and you say ‘well I’m capable of doing anything in my life’, in business or in play,” he said.

“It makes you realise that you’re in control of your destiny.”

Rhiannon Snipe, formerly of Yarragon, also qualified for Kona after winning the female 30 to 34 years age group.

Mclean qualified but opted out of this year’s race.