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6 June, 2022

Eyes set on Ironman

FROM walking his first ever park run at 113kg, 55-year-old Atherton man Darren Lydeamore has clawed his way to new heights as he takes on the Cairns Ironman challenge this weekend, 33kgs lighter.

By Rhys Thomas

Darren Lydeamore, now 33kgs lighter, training for this weekend’s Cairns Ironman Challenge.

With the never-ending support of his wife and family, Darren has made it to the start line of a challenge he posed to himself years ago – compete in the Cairns Ironman Challenge by his mid-50s. 

Darren’s journey started five years ago in 2017 on Atherton’s red dirt, where he participated in his first parkrun alongside his wife with the goal to lose weight. 

“I used to be pretty fit as a kid, teenager and early 20s, I was reasonably fit with running, sport, basketball, volleyball, indoor cricket that sort of stuff,” Darren said. 

“As my work got more serious over my 30s and 40s leading up to my 50s, I moved into more of a desk job so a lot less exercise and a lot more stress and I put on a lot of weight.” 

A close friend brought to light Darren’s escalating physical condition and suggested he participate in the Atherton Parkrun which had recently been established. 

It was a difficult challenge, but Darren managed to cross the finish line of his first parkrun and from that moment, committed himself to attending the parkrun whenever it was held and slowly started making progress on his fitness journey. 

“In 2017 I was going to be turning 50 and I was about 113kg and not very happy with my size,” Darren said. 

“I had kids that were reasonably active and I could not run with my youngest daughter and stuff like that anymore. 

“In the parkrun you can go at any speed, if you are an elite athlete that is fine, if you are someone who can only walk that it fine – there is no pressure and there was a good community atmosphere.” 

It was during one of these parkruns that Darren met renowned Tableland triathlete Megan Hendry, who suggested Darren try his hand at a triathlon.

This moment would prove to be the turning point in Darren’s fitness journey as he not only fell in love with competing in triathlons and other endurance events, he more importantly fell in love with the training. 

Darren completed his first short form triathlon through the Cairns Crocs Triathlon Club and has been completely absorbed with triathlons ever since. 

“I found out I actually loved it, it was really a lot of fun even though I am not the greatest swimmer in the world,” he said. 

“It sparked a bit of an interest and people like Megan doing the bigger events sort of inspired me a little bit, so I kept doing triathlons during the year.

 “Towards the end of the year Cairns Crocs run a long course which is a bigger event at Tinaroo, I got through that and once again people said I should do the 70.3, the half ironman.” 

Darren competed in the half Ironman in June 2019 and set a goal to finish the full internationally renowned endurance race by his mid-50s. 

Due to a host of injuries caused by a bike accident which included a cracked skull and eye complications due to an anti-fogging agent, Darren employed the help of cairns based triathlete Sarah Thomas to prepare for the full Ironman. 

Together Darren and Sarah developed a training program comparable to the Cairns Ironman and have been following it since November last year. 

Just days away from the start line, Darren is looking forward to swimming, riding and running in this year’s event and hit some personal goals. 

“Excited is probably an understatement, the swim leg will still be the challenge because it is not my strong suit,” he said. 

“I am a good rider and a reasonably confident runner but swimming has always been my Achilles heel.” 

With Sarah’s coaching and guidance Darren is confident that he can compete and complete this year’s competition, hoping to smash some small goals along the way.

Darren Lydeamore in 2017 participating in his first Atherton Parkrun at 113kg.

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