While sport brings us all plenty of #HIGH5Moments, we know that the journey to get there can be challenging, but that’s what makes it great, right?!
Over the next few weeks we’ll be showcasing real people’s stories behind their #HIGH5Moment – the highs, the lows, the little things that make that HIGH5 worth it!
Here’s Declan Loy’s story behind his HIGH5 Moment…
This is Declan Loy. He’s just completed 30 Ironman Triathlons and beaten the Guinness World Record for the most races in 12 months – truly living up to his nickname of ‘IronDad’! Now this was we call a HIGH5 Moment! Here Declan tells us about his journey to IronDad – the tough times, the good times and why he now believes that anything is possible!
My journey to breaking the Guinness World Record commenced on December 2015, I was 16 stone and very unfit!
I felt I needed a challenge to aim for, so I booked an Olympic Triathlon for May 2017. But I knew this wasn’t enough to make myself do it. I needed to be accountable. So I decided to post my plan on Facebook, this way I knew I would follow through!
“I had no idea how to train for an Ironman. But, my philosophy in life is if you want to do something, find who is the best, understand what they do and copy them!”
However, two weeks before the Olympic Triathlon, I got injured by falling off my bike and ended up having 10 stitches in my leg. I couldn’t take part in the event but I was determined that this wouldn’t beat me, so I booked another race for September that year.
In September I completed my first triathlon at Setanta Tri in Carlingford, it took me over 3 hours and I came in third to last. At this event I heard about a guy called Bryan McCrystal, who was the Irish record holder for the Ironman distance, he inspired me and I decided to do a full Ironman.
I had no idea how to train for an Ironman. But, my philosophy in life is if you want to do something, find who is the best, understand what they do and copy them! Hence I took on Bryan to coach me.
At this time I knew I wanted to raise funds for charity, particularly a charity that raises funds for children. With three children myself, it’s these kinds of charities that are close to my heart. Family really is my number one value in life. I kept hearing about teenagers taking their own lives and shockingly Ireland has the fourth highest rate of suicide in Europe today. It touched my heart and I knew I wanted to do something to help but I couldn’t find a charity which I wanted to get behind.
On May 28th 2017 I completed my first Ironman 70.3 at Lough Cutri Galway, it took me six hours and 45 mins and my kids were there watching me. I will never forget my daughter’s face when I crossed the finish line – she was nearly crying – it was either with joy or because she was feeling sorry for what her daddy was putting himself through!
At this stage I knew the Ironman race wasn’t big enough to raise funds for, I hadn’t found a charity and I had no idea I was going to do 30 Ironman 70.3 races in 12 months. if you had of told me this before the 28th May I would have laughed at you!
On the evening of the 28th May, after doing my first 70.3 race, I was relaxing when all of a sudden the idea came to me: “I wonder what the world record is for doing the most 70.3 races in 12 months.”
I believe in life we all get moments of inspiration, where an idea comes to us and we can either say yes or no to it, unfortunately, many people say no. However, I believe that when a moment of inspiration comes, you need to take action within five seconds or the idea just passes away very quickly. So, I took my own advice and took action – I applied to the Guinness World Records. Within four weeks they came back and accepted the application. At this stage I panicked! The current record was 23 races and my aim was 30.
“Here I am now, just an amateur triathlete who only took up the sport a few years ago and I have just broken the world record. It proves anything is possible when you believe!”
There were a million and one reasons for not doing the challenge, which included family, time, money, business and the simple fact I was still only a beginner triathlete. However, I knew I had to follow through so I developed a philosophy of saying “one step at a time”. I never thought about how big the challenge was I just kept taking small steps. The hardest part of the challenge was leaving my wife and kids every weekend to travel to races all over the world.
For me, the one thing that helped me get through the physical, mental, emotional and financial pain, which hit me at every race, was to raise funds for Super You a charity that helps empower teenagers by encouraging them to overcome life challenges.
At ever race when I felt like giving up, I’d see a child and give them a HIGH5. That kept me going in every race. I’d also try to tell people what I was doing and why – I met lots of people who had stories of mental and emotional challenges, either affecting them or someone close to them. This was always a sign that I should keep moving forward with the challenge.
The challenges I faced were huge – I could fill a book with them! But no matter what was thrown at me whether that was wind, rain, being robbed, missing flights, being tired, finances, time, business challenges, family challenges and times when I couldn’t walk the day before races, through all of this I had the faith and trust that all these niggles would sort themselves out. My reason for doing this challenge – my desire to help raise funds for teenagers – was so strong I felt life couldn’t prevent me from completing the challenge. I kept saying to myself “it will be ok” and it ended up always being ok.
So here I am now, just an amateur triathlete who only took up the sport a few years ago and I have just broken the world record – completing my challenge of 30 races within 12 months. It proves anything is possible when you believe!