When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Home / Blog / Sea lion in a wetsuit

Sea lion in a wetsuit

Introducing our latest blogger, 38-year-old Clay Cowie on his quest to go from “fat man” to Ironman

Since adulthood, I’ve measured in at 6ft 3in. However, I haven’t always been 18st 10lb and now currently bear a striking resemblance to what I imagine a sea lion in a wetsuit to look like.

I’m a thin guy that has neglected himself physically for many years through the usual routes of marriage, kids and the local curry house. I also stopped smoking four years ago, which was the right thing to do but which has only added to my weight problem.

I do not claim to be a medical expert, previously trained athlete, sponsored tri-athlete or fitness guru. I am simply a regular guy who has to work for a living, fit in raising children and keep my wife entertained. To a lot of people the above set of circumstances restrict them from ever achieving anything that has a path of commitment before it.

So, enter Clay Cowie. I am the above, and here is my story of what, why and how a regular guy with no experience behind him and little time on his hands can do, to achieve what seems like the impossible – an Ironman.

I hope to capture your imagination, especially all of you that dream of taking on a challenge but never do because of life’s many and varied commitments and/or lack of confidence.

The world of triathlon is full of images of the super fit and body beautiful and even at the entry level of ‘sprint’ triathlon, this can be very intimidating for those that want to get fit and participate. Shamefully, when I was thin I was always of the opinion that women reading glossy diet magazines and participating in the cabbage diet were just women that didn’t get the basic principles: eat less, move more and you’ll lose weight!

Then from nowhere it happened, fat just found my midriff, in-between the blink of an eye and a nosh on a Subway it just appeared. All was okay, I thought, as I learnt to put up with an uncomfortable outer body and find alternative methods of tying my shoe laces. But I found the hardest thing about being fat is having to address the issue of fuelling your body every day, unlike say giving up smoking where you can avoid temptation if you should so wish.

So to my first confession: I am ashamed of my thoughts when I was thin, ashamed of my feelings towards fat people. I was ignorant to the fact that it is so easy to say things like that when you don’t have to face it yourself.

So, what of my sporting history? Well, I’ve played five-a-side football and enjoyed golf all my life, but the only competitive racing I’ve done was 15 years ago when I did the Nottingham half marathon for a laugh. I entered with no prior training because I naively thought that all those lovvies in the gym simply wanted to show off, get away from the missus for a couple of hours and socialise. That’s my lot until last year when in a fit of, ‘that’s it, I’m going to do something about it’, I entered my first sprint triathlon.

But this new found love ended prematurely when during my fourth sprint triathlon I fell over while on the run and twisted my ankle quite seriously. In my infinite wisdom I chose to rehabilitate with ice packs and my favourite confectionary; 24 additional pounds later I’m kicking myself that I chose to sit on my arse and fill my face with crap instead of use this ‘out of action time’ to work hard on a weight-loss programme.

But last year’s sprints were enough for me to catch the triathlon bug, and I’m now more determined than ever to conquer my weight and objectives. So far, for the 2011 season, I’ve signed up to take part in the following events: Plymouth Half Marathon (29 May), Taunton Sprint Triathlon (5 June), Dartmoor Classic Sportive (26 June), Bristol Olympic Triathlon (3 July), Bath Olympic Triathlon (17 July); and the Padstow Olympic Triathlon (11 September).

I’ve always been okay at swimming, I was quite fond of running but had never been on a racing bike. During my previous training I quickly discovered that swimming still seems easy, fell head over heels in love with cycling and came to loathe running with a passion. I’m not brilliant at any of these disciplines as weight, technique and general fitness are my handicaps. But as I say to people to cover up for my embarrassment, ‘I make up for it with looks!’, and I’ve since started a basic training programme of exercise.

As for my final goal, I don’t have an Ironman in mind as yet, but according to my training programme I should be ready to compete in a couple of half Ironmans next spring so should have a better idea then.

My main challenge is always going to be maintaining the motivation to keep on the path to my target, but I’m confident that this blog for 220 will help me focus on the goal. My blog will feature photos, weight loss charts, training programmes, advice that I’ve chosen to take, comments on whether it worked or not, funny stories that occur along the way and complete transparency of my race results. My own rewards will be purely physical and the comfort that maybe I will inspire somebody else to make a change.

Profile image of 220 Triathlon Team 220 Triathlon Team Journalists, reviewers, coaches and athletes


The 220 Triathlon team is made up of vastly experienced athletes, sports journalists, kit reviewers and coaches. In short, what we don't know about multisport frankly isn't worth knowing! Saying that, we love expanding our sporting knowledge and increasing our expertise in this phenomenal sport.