To many, swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles then running a full 26.2 mile marathon in one day is ludicrous and just plain mad. But for Robin Atkinson, it was a year of planning, dreaming and dedicated training just to get to the start line.
First raced in 1978 to settle a debate among swimmers, cyclists and runners about who was the fittest, the Ironman Triathlon originally combined three of Hawaii’s toughest endurance races, the Waikiki Roughwater Swim, the Around Oahu Cycle Race and the Honolulu Marathon, into one event, the Ironman Race.
Now raced at numerous venues throughout the world, Robin chose to take on Ironman Switzerland in the beautiful location of Zurich, with over 2,200 other athletes all hoping to complete and become an Ironman.
Despite the daunting task ahead, Robin didn’t have any nerves at the start, feeling quite calm and collected. The 2.4mile swim in a very warm Lake Zurichsee was a stramash of bodies, arms and legs. He managed to get round comfortably though, without getting any knocks or bruises in 1hr 16mins.
After applying the factor 30 sun-cream and donning the cycle kit, it was out onto the 112 mile cycle. Here is where Robin excelled, managing to overtake over 300 others as he zipped through the Swiss countryside. The sun was now high in the sky and temperatures increasing. He suffered a bit with cramp on some of the climbs but generally had a fun cycle, finishing that leg off with a 5hr 28min time split.
After getting off the bike though, he could barely walk. Robin’s right foot was in agony from having a cycle shoe too tight. After racking his bike, changing into running gear and applying more sun-cream, he contemplated running the marathon.
It was evident from the start he was going to be in for a long afternoon but after some Ibuprofen, Robin’s foot felt much better and he managed to get into his stride with massive crowds cheering everybody on. Despite a lapse with six miles to go he finished strongly with a 4hr 19min marathon run.
After 11hrs, 18min and 11sec, crossing the finish line to the commentator shouting “Robin Atkinson from Shetland Triathlon Club” was a very special moment which he will treasure for the rest of his life. He can now claim the title of being an Ironman among triathletes but unfortunately this doesn’t mean he gets to wear the Hollywood suit!