You have endurance athletes, you have extreme endurance athletes, and then you have Sean Conway. The 43-year-old Briton who grew up in Zimbabwe has completed a full triathlon for 105 days in a row. A world record stopped by a game of heads or tails.
3.8km swim, 180km bike ride, and just over 42km run. This must be done daily for at least 102 days. The challenge Sean Conway faced three months ago wasn’t just a walk in the park.
But as is often the case: it’s all for a good reason. The British Zimbabwean has tried to raise as much money as possible through his work for True Venture, an organization that wants to encourage children to play sports in a sustainable way. After more than 23,000 km, the odometer is now 90,000 euros.
Conway is an athlete who trained for endurance, but came to the UK in his early twenties with barely 100 euros in his suitcase. At first, he made his living as a freelance photographer, eventually selling his work for a nominal euro.
It all revolved around the grand dream of cycling around the world in 2012. That challenge turned into a nightmare after a car crash in the US. However, Conway persevered and rode nearly 19,000 km with a broken spine.
Just to say: little guy is not afraid. In 2013 he swam from the northernmost point to the southernmost point of Great Britain in 135 days, and in 2016 he did even better with a triathlon of nearly 6,500km around the British mainland.
So his final punches added a lot to that. The goal was to extend the world record of 101 complete Ironman races in a row set by American James Lawrence from April 10. On July 20, Conway scored near Liverpool at No. 102.
“This is by far the toughest three months of my life. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. I’m so proud of the team behind me and what I’ve achieved. Toughest moment for me? The world record-breaking Conway said when I almost missed the 17-hour time limit after day two.
“The best thing was the community of swimmers, cyclists, and runners who supported me every day on my journey. I hope to inspire a new generation of endurance athletes. In the meantime, I don’t have to keep going, but it’s also a challenge to know how to handle it. I have no idea how long I’m going to go on.”
Conway started his swimming number every day at 5 am for the past three months, and his “work day” usually didn’t end until 15 hours later. In between, he had enough time for physical therapy, some time with his wife and two children, and to get some sleep.
In addition, it was also important for Conway to eat between 6,000 and 8,000 calories per day. He did this with baked noodles, ice cream, pancakes, biltong (dried meat), and bananas. Along the way, he also had to deal with several muscle injuries.
The main question was how long Conway would continue to hone the record. After Triathlon 104, he tossed a coin. The head is supposed to keep going, play the coins, and stop the frenzied project.
I eventually became a head so Sunday was followed by a 105-day run with a 3.8km swim, 180km cycling and a marathon. For Day 106, Conway made another game of heads or tails. “I don’t want to stop myself. If the coin makes me stop, at least I’m not giving up.”
Unfortunately, the game is lost and so Conway forces himself to put an end to his crazy project. In the morning, he rang the bell in the pool for the last time: “The end. The coin told me to stop.”
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