TEN years after ditching a 40-a-day smoking habit and heavy drinking, Stratford AC’s Joe Lee conquered one of the biggest physical challenges of his life by completing his first Ironman.
The Ironman Switzerland, held in Zurich on Sunday, comprises a 3.8km swim and a 180km cycle before finishing with a marathon.
In a high-quality field of nearly 1,400 competitors, Lee recorded a combined time of 12 hours 15 minutes 58 seconds to place 650th in the men’s division.
“What an experience,” said Lee, who took on this challenge as a way of raising money for Cyclists Fighting Cancer, a charity that helps children living with and beyond cancer. “I loved every minute.”
“What an amazing race in a stunning setting, I was delighted to have been announced as an ‘Ironman’ when I came over the finishing line. It’s been quite a journey improving at three disciplines while also upping my endurance and balancing work and most importantly my family. When I joined D03 18-months ago I struggled to swim 400m and had never swum in open water.
“However, this weekend I smashed a 3.8km in Lake Zurich and I’m in utter awe of what I’ve achieved thanks to Do3 and head coach, Dave Knight. The squad has given me focus and a community of equally committed and driven people to train with and to learn from. It’s genuinely been one of the most inspiring adventures in my life.”
Swimming in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Zurich, he covered the first section in 1:26:05. He then excelled on the bike, finishing that stage within six hours (5:58:02).
“The bike course was epic,” he said of the two-lap stage. “It was flat for the first 18 miles, then rolling in amazing Swiss countryside. The temperature rose to 30°C during the second lap, which made the hills tougher, but heart break hill at the end of each lap was amazing. I felt like I was in the Tour de France with the crowd of people waving cowbells.”
By the time he started the 26.2-mile run, the temperature had climbed to 32°C and there was no wind in the air. He paced himself well to clock 4:43:11 for the final stage and was cheered across the finish line by his 30-week pregnant wife Kim, his son Josh and his mum Alison.
“I must say thank you to Stratford-upon-Avon Athletics Club for all the help and support with my running training that got me through the marathon, and Stratford-upon-Avon Cycling Club that got me the cycle,” he said.
“Eighteen months ago, I struggled to swim 400 metres in a pool and had never swum in a lake, but thanks to Do3 coaching I absolutely smashed the 3.8km swim in Lake Zurich.
“And, of course, big thanks to my awesome wife and family for their support and to all the amazing athletes and friends I have met along the journey to becoming an Ironman.”