Owen Martin: you are a true Ironman

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Owen Martin: you are a true Ironman thumbnailOWEN Martin, who had a magnificent Ironman race in Arizona, qualified for the World Championship in Kona an incredible eighth time.

THERE'S just no stopping Owen Martin.

Despite completing the energy-sapping world Championship Ironman race in Kona, Hawaii just five weeks previously, the Silverbridge triathlete had a magnificent race in the recent Ironman Arizona, where he not only took third place in his 40-44 age-group, but for the eighth time qualified for Kona.

It's extremely doubtful if any other Irishman ever qualified anywhere near as many times for Hawaii.

And competing almost as well in the same Ironman Arizona race were two of Owen's Setanta clubmates Peter Tomany and Adrian Garvey. Peter and Adrian also posted up amazing time over the 2.4-miles swim, the 112-mile bike ride and full marathon run of 26.2-miles.

Yet surely there's not a more focused or dedicated triathlete in the nation than Owen Martin. In a field of nearly 3000 supremely fit triathletes, the former Armagh Minor footballer was a super 43th overall. His finishing time was 9.02.16 with splits of 1.04 (swim), 4.40.25 (bike) and 3.09 (run).

Owen said he had a good swim - and that despite having his wet-suit zip pulled down at the back shortly after the start, thus letting water into the suit which caused drag. He said: "I was a wee bit disappointed with my swim time but considering the wet-suit was open, it was ok."

On the 4.40 bike ride (24-miles an hour average over three laps) Owen said: "Apart from dropping the chain twice I had no real issues on the bike leg. The air temperature was good. It was very windy but that's normal here. There was one major 10-mile climb that was not particularly steep but it was mostly into a direct head-wind. The bike went really well. I eased back on the last lap of the bike to ensure I could run well."

On his run time of 3.09, a time that many a club athlete would kill for, he said: "There was great crowd support. Early on I was running on average 6.50 - 7.00 mile pace. My target time was 2.55. I intended to run the first 13 miles easy and then pick it up over the second half of the marathon. But I had to ease up at miles 17-18 because my groin was starting to give me trouble. However, it wasn't until mile 21 that I had to slow down - but I was still running 7.30 mile pace so it wasn't too bad.

“However, with about half a mile to go my groin snapped completely. And although I was in a lot of pain, I knew I had to keep on running (Is there a song title there?) as I couldn't waste time stretching the groin out."

On his future plans Owen said: "I'm going to take 10 or 12 days off and then do some fun training. If the weather's nice I'll ride the bike or run and I'll probably force myself to do a few swims. Then in the first week of January it's back to full time training for Kona 2017.

At the moment there is a lot of talk about how much gaelic footballers train. Apparently knowledgeable pundits say it's too much for non-professionals. But surely those gaelic footballers would quake in their shoes if they had to match Owen Martin's training load. Mostly he trains 25 hours a week but coming up to the likes of the World Championships in Kona his training increases so that he's doing 30-34 hours per week. Often his schedule includes 25,000 metres swimming (1000 lengths of a 25-metre pool) 400-miles cycling and 60 to 70 miles running PER WEEK. Indeed in preparation for Kona this year on three successive weeks his long run was over 28 miles.

Incidentally Owen's best time in an Ironman event was in Klagenfurt 2011 in Ironman Austria when he broke the then Irish record with an amazing 8.59.13. In that race he ran a blistering 2.55.07 for the 26.3 miles marathon.

Since then his Setanta clubmate Bryan McCrystal has lowered the Irish record to an astonishing 8.41.29 he posted in Barcelona.

Peter Tomany also had an exceptional race in Arizona, the Camlough man, who is coached by Martin, was 132th overall and 18th in his age-group, with a super sub-10-hour time of 9.54.11. It was Peter's sixth Ironman event and, though not his fastest, it was undoubtedly his best performance. Peter swam 1.17.34 biked 5.01.00 and ran a magnificent 3.28.27 for the marathon.

The third member of team Setanta was Adrian Garvey and his performance was truly exceptional. Indeed the Forkhill man slashed almost two hours from his only other Ironman time, clocking a brilliant 10.10.59. The businessman, owner of O'Brien's Sandwich bar, who is also coached by Owen Martin, was 170th overall and 21st in his 45-49 age-group. Adrian, a former Carnbane League footballer with Shanro Santos, swam 1.22.53, biked 5.04.36 and ran 3.35.34. Ok, so Adrian's swim might not have been earth-shattering, but he certainly made up for it with a fantastic bike ride and run.

Anyway no doubt about it Owen, Peter and Adrian did the Newry area proud with their gutsy performances.

Finally the universally-renown Mike Reilly, who has been commentating on Ironman events at the finish line all over the world almost since the start of the sport, put our city firmly on the world triathlon map. Reilly is responsible for the famous saying: 'Joe Bloggs - You Are an Ironman.' But he changed it a bit when he boomed out: "All the way from Newry, Ireland, Owen Martin, You Are an Ironman."



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