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Fellow IRONMAN announcer Robson Lindberg from Finland is the guest on this episide of the podcast. Robson suffered a brain injury during a hockey match in February 2016, the fun loving, adventure seeking, sports mad athlete had his life changed forever on that day.

His injuries from being body checked included 8 brain bleeds including an 8mm bleed. Robson had to relearn how to complete some of the most basic tasks we take for granted including writing, talking and simply moving.  Classified as having a traumatic brain injury, Robson vowed to become the worlds’ best TBI patient with aspirations to race at the IRONMAN World Championships.

It was a difficult journey physically, emotionally and mentally and despite some of the medical professionals giving him little hope of ever returning to a ‘normal life’, Robson has defied the odds to pursue his passion for sport and insatiable appetite for life, crossing the finish line of IRONMAN Portugal on Saturday the  23rd of October this year,  2,074 days after his world almost stopped turning.   I met Robson for the first time in Cascais and was fascinated by his story, tenacity and sheer determination to never give up.

Sometimes inspiration can come into your life at the most unusual of times and in an array of situations, and I know, I know it’s such a cliché to say but Robson is the epitome of anything is possible and although we only scratch the surface of what his road to recovery was like in this chat, this is a super episode of the podcast.  If you, like me, are fascinated by his story, be sure to check out his 8MM squad on www.8MMSquad.com.

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Galway Triathlon Club member and Galway Baybe Karen Cassidy took on the inaugural Mondello 24 Cycle last month, winning the solo female category she finished 5th overall amidst a stacked field of solo male riders. The Mondello 24 Cycle was Karen’s first foray into solo endurance racing, she faced and embraced the unknown in terms of time, distance and experience taking on the 24 hour race as an individual rather than as part of a team.

Having originally planned to participate in the Race Around Ireland Ultra in 2021, when this event fell victim to Covid she jumped at the chance to race in Mondello. No stranger to endurance racing events she has completed multiple, sprint, olympic and middle distance triathlons and has also completed IRONMAN Barcelona. In recent years she has been fascinated with endurance cycling and has been chomping at the bit to complete a solo endurance cycling race.

The catalyst and driving force behind the set up of our Galway Baybes cycling team with myself, Bríd Neachtain and Marie Boyle she has embraced endurance cycling in the past few years and has really focused on going solo and going long since our Race Around Ireland and Donegal Ultra success in 2017 and 2018.

Balancing her home, work and training life in a busy household, to get to the startline in great shape was as much a challenge as getting around the 24 hour race.  But, her meticulous planning, dedication and focus on her goal along with the unrelenting support of her husband Noel, her sons Cormac, Dylan and Jack along with her colleagues at Fat Tony’s and fellow Galway Tri Club members saw her in the shape of her life to fly solo in Mondello and successfully soar to be crowned the queen of the track.

Rounding up her crew of Padraic Benson, Pat Dirrane, Damien Moloney, Brid Neachtain and myself she was in great hands for her first solo adventure and we had plenty of fun during the Mondello 24 Cycle. I know that we are all incredibly proud of what Karen has achieved and are looking forward to finally getting together to celebrate her success.

Karen is fundraising for the RNLI a part of her challenge if you would like to make a donation please click HERE.

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Twenty six year old Shannon Kelly stamped her return to triathlon racing this year claiming victory in the King of Greystones Triathlon in July after health issues called an abrupt halt to her sporting career in 2019. The first year junior doctor now based in Waterford has been involved in sport and performing arts for most of her life, excelling in and embracing both passions for many years. Leaving aside her love of performing arts she concentred her efforts on triathlon in recent years, growing up as a competitive swimmer, it wasn’t long until she excelled at swim, bike and run.

A cardiac scan as part of a requirement to race with a triathlon team in France saw her sidelined when it was discovered she had a blood clot and was facing some scary health issues.  Navigating her way through the journey back to full health, dealing with the implications of her condition and the loss of sport was not an easy road.  However, she has come out the other side, guns blazing with a can and will do attitude, that has seen her on seven podiums in seven triathlon races this season in some cases on back to back days across back to back weekends.

Some of her key results this year include; triathlon wins in Sligo, Rosslare & Ballyhass, finishing within the top 10 male standings in all races.  She took Silver in the National Elite Sprint Championship and Bronze in the National Elite Olympic Distance Championships, as well as winning the aforementioned King of Greystones Triathlon.

Last year as she returned to racing post illness, she had success on the bike and the running track.  Taking to ZWIFT she competed in Cycling Irelands’ first ever national ZWIFT league,  won numerous races in the league and held the women’s jersey for multiple weeks. She also competed in Cycling Ireland road races taking wins at Knockaderry and Corkagh Park. She competed in the Athletics Ireland Track Nationals last year in the 5km placing in the top 15 in the country.  Rounding off her 2020 season she raced her first international race in Germany for Team Hagen in the Bundesliga Elite Triathlon league where she placed 35th overall.

With big goals and aspirations for the future both in sport and with her medical career, the future is bright and busy for Shannon Kelly, with a strong belief in working hard and reaping the rewards of that hard work she is fully committed to achieving those goals and in her own words she says ‘ I go get it, I love racing, I love triathlon, I love sport’ 

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Ultra endurance cyclist Seán Hernon from Galway has been embracing adventure on two wheels for many years. What started out as a five week bike-packing adventure across Africa has led him to many routes and races at home and abroad with a firm focus on going long, embracing exploration and adventure.

Kickstarting his ultra cycling career with the Race Around Ireland in 2009, it has been a roller coaster of a ride with many mountains and kilometres climbed to get to where he is today in his ultra cycling career. Toeing the start line of the Race Around Ireland on numerous occasions since his first attempt at the event he has dealt with the lows of a number disappointing DNF’s and the highs of finishing on the podium in both the Full and Ultra distance events.

With a 2nd & 3rd place in both the Full and Ultra events at Race Around Ireland, he has his target set to make it to the top step of the podium in the Ultra race in 2022 after what might be considered a breakthrough season this year.

Crippled with stomach issues and a knee that gives him plenty of bother whilst racing, that have both in turn affected his performances over the years, he has through the intervention and guidance of performance nutritionist Jillian Mooney found some relief for his stomach issues that has seen him perform at the level this season that he knew he was capable of.  This Summer, Seán won the Donegal Atlantic Way Ultra 555k Unsupported Race and the TJB Coastal 330 mile race before going on to set a new record for the 571k route from Mizen Head to Malin Head in a time of 17:20. That’s an average of 33kph over the distance which included around 4,500m of climbing.

With his eyes on the prize of the top step on the podium in the Race Around Ireland Ultra in 2022, a possible faster record attempt for that Mizen to Malin Route and the expected arrival of a new addition to the Hernon household early next year, there are exciting things to come for the man referred to fondly as the ‘Bear’ Hernon.

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Maeve Gallagher, the Irish elite triathlete from Mayo, had a dominating performance at Lough Cutra Castle in Galway this month, she powered to victory in the BMW National Series Standard Distance race finishing as fastest female on the day, and second overall in the race. Last Sunday Maeve was crowned the National Sprint Champion for the first time in Waterford adding another National Title to her incredible 24 previous National Titles across cycling, triathlon and athletics. The 19 year old is currently juggling second year of her pharmacy degree in UCC whilst also training and racing as an elite athlete for Ireland.

In 2019 she represented Ireland in three separate European Championships across cycling, triathlon and cross country running, which is quite a remarkable achievement. She has a long list of racing accolades and success to date, from racing at the European Youth Olympics in cycling to competing in Rás na Mban twice, winning the best Irish rider green jersey on both occasions. Not to mention the long list of success in athletics and cross country running at home and abroad as well as her success on the international stage in triathlon, it’s no surprise that she has twice been awarded Irish Junior Triathlete of the Year by Triathlon Ireland.
For now, she is focusing on triathlon as her chosen sport with her eyes firmly focused on being the best she can be, with a desire to train, race and represent her country at the highest level. This is a great chat with Maeve who at such a young age is an inspiration not only to her own age group, but also to those of us who are older than her and to those who may follow in her footsteps for years to come.
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Professional triathlete Ellie Salthouse is no stranger to dedication and commitment in sport.  Taking up triathlon at the age of 11,  the fifteen time Middle Distance Champion from Brisbane, Australia has been delivering sizzling triathlon performances across the world in recent years. Already this year she has had a clean sweep of wins from her six race starts and she is not finished racing for the season yet.

Splitting her time between her home in Australia and her adopted home in Boulder, Colorado the former ITU athlete and Youth Olympic Silver Medalist almost gave up on the sport when she fell out of love with it,  taking 6 months away completely to pursue other interests. But it wasn’t long before her love of the sport and all it embodies saw her return with that burning desire to be the best in the world even stronger than ever.  Seeking the help and coaching support of Siri Lindley who soon oversaw Ellie’s pivot to middle distance racing, she has been paving her way to the top step of a World Championship podium ever since.

The vivacious 28 year old has her eyes firmly on the World Championship prize and with the IRONMAN 70.3 Worlds taking place in St. George Utah this month, the podium is within touching distance for the steely determined athlete. Salthouse by name and salt of the earth by nature, the future is bright for this sparkling athlete.

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British professional triathlete Fenella Langridge took to professional racing like a duck to water in 2018 exploding onto the scene with five podium finishes in seven races including her first professional title at IRONMAN 70.3 Edinburgh.

Fenella says she is just a big kid at heart and loves what she does.  With the biggest smile on her face she finished Challenge Daytona in 7th position last year before going on to claim a silver medal at IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene in June of this year stamping her ticket to Kona finishing in 8:59:49, a sub 9 debut IRONMAN.
She has had her fair share of injuries over the years but through her infectious positivity, commitment to her craft  and her patience she has bounced back to deliver some performances she can be very proud of including her win at IRONMAN 70.3 Barcelona just one week after a bike crash in France which resulted in a DNF and stitches.
With an abundance of drive and determination coupled with natural talent and a thirst for success, the quietly spoken athlete lets her ability and performances do the talking.  Still in her twenties, on the cusp of a new decade,  Fenella has lots more fun to have in the sport of triathlon and there are plenty of podiums and medals in her future.
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Sam Laidlow is a young, hungry, ambitious and successful professional triathlete who has some serious goals and aspirations in sport including winning the IRONMAN World Championships. He will be the youngest professional athlete at 22 years of age on the startline in Kona this year earning his slot at IRONMAN UK last month.

With a string of successes to his name already including; the winner of the Bearman Xtreme Long Distance race in 2017 and the Lakesman in 2019 he set the fastest long distance triathlon time ever recorded in the United Kingdom on the day in a winning time of 8:21.  In the same year he finished 7th at Ironman Barcelona in a time of 8:05. He was recently 2nd at IRONMAN UK behind Joe Skipper which saw him jump up the PTO rankings to 26th on the global list.
Moving to France with his family as a young child he grew up embedded and engrossed in triathlon as his parents set up Sancture Sportifs Triathlon Training Camps in the South of France. Surrounded by sport, meeting a wide range of athletes from different cultures and backgrounds his passion for triathlon was fuelled and the fire ignited to pursue a life in sport where anything is possible.
Sam has a drive, focus and commitment to the sport that many of us can be inspired by, he is still very young in age but he is very much dedicated to his craft.  He may have big goals and dreams but I fully expect that those goals and dreams will become a reality and Sam Laidlow is one to watch for the future!
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Lydia Dant from Team Passion Fit was the women’s champion of IM 70.3 Staffordshire two weeks ago, just prior to that Lydia won the Outlaw Half in Nottingham by just 29 seconds. The accomplished age group athlete had been dabbling in bikes and bike racing for a while before picking up a bit of swimming and running in 2013 which saw her dipping her toes into triathlon.  She had mixed results over the next two years, study, work and life getting in the way of any major triathlon training and sporting ambitions.  That is of course until she decided to tackle IRONMAN Wales in 2018 as a route to getting back to structured training and embracing the sporting lifestyle she had enjoyed previously.

It was joining Team Passion Fit in 2018 that her journey as a triathlete really started to take shape and notably her ability and tenacity as an athlete began to shine through. Her results speak for themselves in recent years with a 7th overall in IM 70.3 Weymouth in 2018, 1st in her age group at IM 70.3 Staffordshire in 2019 a 14th  place overall result.  Racing at the IM 70.3 World Championships in Nice in 2019 she was 17th in her age group, she finished 1st in her age group at IM 70.3 Lanzarote in 2019 and has taken the top step of the podium at the Cotswold 113, The Westonbirt Duathlon and the Chilly Duathlon.

Coupled with the overall wins at Outlaw and IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire recently the phoenix is most definitely rising as she embraces her life in sport not only as an athlete but as a business woman and proud owner of Phoenix Evolution Bike Fitting Consultancy.