independent

Saturday 30 August 2014

Ironman Rob is an example to us all

Published 08/01/2014 | 05:44

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ROB Moran says that without training for a triathlon or a marathon, he is simply not himself.

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'I'm a nightmare to be around when I'm not training,' said Rob, who has raised thousands for a range of causes.

By day, he's a service delivery manager at Vodafone, but in his spare time he's a man of iron.

'It's addictive,' said Rob, who did his first Ironman event in Galway in 2011. The previous year he did the Ironman with Bray paraplegic Martin Codyre in Zurich and was inspired.

'It was the first experience I'd ever had of a race like that,' said Rob, who had indeed never seen competitors so healthy.

He had always been fit to an extent but had never witnessed commitment on such a high level to tackle such a tough challenge.

'Once you're committed you have to see it through,' said Rob, who took on the shorter Galway event two years ago. 'The natural progression was to go on to do the full one,' he said, adding that he and his peers in the field have become known as 'endurance junkies.'

Speaking last week after a couple of weeks off for Christmas, Rob described the effects of coming off his drug of choice. 'I'm moody when I'm not training, I miss it.'

His credentials include various Ironman events, six Dublin marathons, King of Greystones and numerous other shorter events. Rob has supported his friend Martin Codyre and the Martin Codyre Fund; Gavin Glynn, a little boy with cancer whose dad is a friend of Rob's; and other causes on a local and national level.

There's a social as well as a sporting aspect what he does, and the place for anyone to start would be the Wicklow Tri Club where national champions are there to help out complete beginners. There's also a good gender mix with almost a half and half ratio between men and women plus more female champions than male in Wicklow.

Beginners start off with the summer 'Aquathon' events which consist of a 5km run, 750 metre swim and no cycling. It gives people a chance to get an event under their belts before committing to buying a bike.

'I only learned to swim in 2010,' revealed Rob, admitting that it's the part of every event he finds the most difficult.

He described going off in the middle of the pack at Lanzarote Ironman last year. 'I was kicked, punched, swam over, it was a nightmare!'

Once he gets the swim behind him, the real race starts for Moran and he makes up any time he may have lost there.

Even though he can endure long distances, water, heat and other conditions that go along with the events, Rob has tackled Bray's Hell & Back just the once and said that's enough.

'I wouldn't do it again,' he said of the tough 10km course at Killruddery which includes mud, people shouting at you, electric shocks and more along the way.

Triathlon and its linked sports have become increasingly popular in recent years, said Rob. 'There has been a 30 per cent uptake year on year for the past four years,' he said, speculating that cost may be a factor.

Once the investments have been made, in a bicycle, footwear and so on, it's extremely cost-effective as an activity. 'Plus you can travel to places you may not otherwise have gone.'

However sacrifices must be made to maintain fitness, and Rob's regime is as tough as they come for non-professional athletes.

'When training I probably wouldn't drink,' he said. 'I do enjoy a few pints but you just can't train and drink.'

He has just started his schedule again so probably won't drink alcohol again until the summer.

'It's the same with diet. But your diet falls in line with your training - you just don't crave unhealthy food and want to fuel your body with what it needs.'

Trainer Eamonn Tilley coaches Rob and a group, analysing their data and putting them through their paces.

The timetable for a given week is punishing. Rob read out the email with the coming week's sessions. Monday - swimming at Loughlinstown 6 a.m.; Evening turbo session at Bray Wheelers; Wednesday - outdoor biking in Kilmacanogue; Thursday - running in Bray; Friday - more swimming; Saturday - running at Djouce; Sunday biking again.

For 10-20 hours a week Rob and the team belong to Eamonn.

It's not for the faint-hearted or non-committed and one can see how hangovers and training definitely don't mix.

However having some friends who don't have the same level of interest in athletics keeps Rob grounded.

'You need to have balance,' he said. 'Those of us who do this are obsessed so it's good to have lads who aren't and will remind me that I'm being boring! Life can't all be about training.'

Also some of the events Rob takes less seriously than others. On a recent trip to France to catch up with a friend, they ran the Nice-Caanes marathon after staying up all night.

'We went to bed at 5 a.m. then got up and did the marathon!' So that wasn't necessarily the race-time of Moran's life but he enjoyed the holiday!

His family members are very supportive of his pastime and his parents have even travelled out to some of the races.

The Boghall Road native got in to cycling in school when he first had contact with Bray Wheelers.

The physical and mental benefits far outweigh any payoff Rob has made in terms of socialising or anything else. He has also met some amazing people and said that the camaraderie at the races is very much an 'Irish thing.'

'We don't always take it as seriously as some other nationalities,' he said, adding that contenders from Ireland and Northern Ireland have been in touch online in a Facebook group and are all mates now.

For those considering taking up training for a triathlon, Rob couldn't recommend it more highly.

Wicklow Tri or Bray Wheelers are some of the best places to start he said, where one of the main considerations is safety when cycling or running out on the roads or indeed swimming.

'My race nerves will probably never go away,' he said. 'But when I walk down towards the start on race day and the adrenaline starts, there's nothing like it. For me it's not about coming first, second or third, because I never will, but doing my best and finishing it.'

For more information go to www.wicklowtri.com.

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