A Wexford athlete, who has been training and taking part in Ironman events for the past sixth years, was ranked tenth in the world in her age category at this year's World Championships.
Marie Breen (66), from Staplestown, is a member of Wexford Triathlon Club and she travelled to South Africa in September for the 70.3 Ironman World Championships that took place in Nelson Mandela Bay, Port Elizabeth.
An Ironman 70.3 triathlon consists of a 1.2 mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1 mile run.
Marie was one of just eight Irish athletes to take part in the event, the only other Wexford participant being Stephen Reville, from Clongeen, who qualified in Australia.
Marie's time of 7:36:04 saw her finish in tenth place in the 65 to 69 age category, an achievement she said was extremely special as the weekend of competition had over 4,500 competitors from 120 nations. The event was televised live in South Africa and Marie said she did not know this until she went back to her Air BnB that night and the woman she was staying with told her she had seen her on TV.
An equally special occasion was the opening ceremony of the event, at which Marie had the honour of carrying the Ireland banner.
Marie has been competing in Ironman challenges for the past six years, after overcoming serious illness.
At the age of 60, Marie was diagnosed with Stage 3 bowel cancer. She went through six months of gruelling chemotherapy but always kept her mind on what she 'would' rather than what she 'might' do, on receiving a clean bill of health. Her determination and positive attitude saw her back on the roads, on foot and bike, training for her first Ironman.
While the training is tough, and is an all-year-round commitment, Marie does get, what she considers to be, a bit of a breather.
'I've been doing Ironman events for the last six years so you'd be training all the time but you'd slack off a bit in the winter and do something else to keep you focused. Last year I did horse-riding and sean nos dancing. This year, I'm doing circuit training.'