Meet the man attempting 70 half-irons in 70 days

Andy Stone is currently attempting a world-record of 70 middle-distance triathlons in 70 days. Here, he opens up on the why and the how...

Andy Stone triathlete

A desire to push his boundaries has led Andy Stone to a world-record attempt of 70 half-irons in 70 days, which he started on 4 April 2022. We caught up with him a few weeks ago to find out the story so far and why he’s doing it…

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I played rugby for years but I got injured and all of a sudden different sports started opening up to me. I bought a cheap road bike and did a few local triathlons, followed by a couple of half-irons. I did Ironman Wales in 2013 and then fell out of love of it. I’d ticked that box and achieved that goal. It took me years to get back into it again.

The idea to do 70 half-irons in 70 days came from James Lawrence’s [AKA the Iron Cowboy] challenges. I was inspired by them, and by the concept that you don’t have to stop at 140 miles or ultra-marathons. Why put limits on yourself? I’ve always wanted to do something big like that. The seed was planted years ago and then I went through divorce and addiction recovery.

I was an alcoholic. I just got more and more involved with alcohol and then cocaine. I wasn’t able to function, wasn’t able to hold a job down, left my wife. It just got so toxic. It was 12 pints of Stella and a gram of Charlie every day for months. It was only heading in one direction.

Mum and dad sent me to a residential treatment centre. I came out, got involved with Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and it’s been life changing. I’ll be seven years [sober] during the challenge. I just feel like I have a new lease of life.

“It’s a hell of a commitment”

Andy Stone puts the training in ahead of his world-record attempt of 70 middle-distance triathlons in 70 days

In second lockdown I was sitting on the sofa and was not in a good place. I thought, ‘right, forget it, I may as well just have a drink if I’m feeling like this.’ Between making that decision and actually drinking it I’d changed my mind.

My partner, Sally, and I sat down and decided I needed a project. We thought about going straight for 70 70.3s but decided to first do 17 sprint triathlons in 17 days and then 35 Olympic triathlons in 35 days.

It’s a hell of a commitment to start pushing those numbers and it takes a lot of focus, but I’ve found a way of being good at triathlon, by being really slow! It’s just zone 2 all the way and long hours.

I’ve been ticking over at 20/22 hours a week. I’m supposed to be up to 30 hours a week now but catching Covid a few weeks ago has put me back. During the event I’ll be looking at 45-50 hours per week.

“I think it’s going to suck”

The 17 sprints were harder than I thought they were going to be. I hadn’t trained a great deal. It was lockdown so all the gyms were shut and it was crap weather. It was a real wakeup. The 35s went better. I just took it more seriously. I’m glad I didn’t go straight in for the 70.3s because I’ve learnt so much.

I think it’s going to suck, no matter what. The 70.3 I did the day after finishing the 35 Olympics challenge actually felt pretty good, but I did one in mid-January and it felt unexpectedly hard. It was a good wake-up call to start taking s**t seriously again and that this is what it’s going to feel like.

I’ll be finishing with Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire on 12 June, so that’ll be a nice way to finish it off and hopefully it’ll help give me that feeling of completion.

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Andy will be raising money for three addiction and mental wellbeing charities and is hoping to shine a light on mental health awareness. Find out more by following him on Instagram.