The Road to Ironman Cozumel (via Liberia and Nepal)

Our new blogger Blair charts his journey to Mexico, including Liberian riptides, holy cows in Nepal and rabid dogs... everywhere


It all sounded like quite a good idea last winter, when the weather outside was freezing and the pain of recently flailing over a triathlon finish line had receded, replaced with that dangerous post-event glee when it all suddenly seemed like quite a lot of fun.

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A week in the sun in Mexico next November? A big house on the beach with some good friends? A bit of exercise thrown in for good measure? Sign me up!

Six months later and the reality is suddenly starting to dawn- I’m entered into the Cozumel Ironman on 25 November, a little over three months from now. Just to make things easier for myself before the most challenging physical feat I will ever attempt, in the interim I resigned from my job and have begun to set up a new non-profit organisation called the Accountability Lab, which has me working back and forth between Liberia and Nepal. Fascinating places but not your usual tri training grounds, of course.

Three months to go, so the training is in full swing you might ask? Well, sort of. I’ve discovered that preparing for a big race in these places is really, really difficult – from pot-holed roads, to lack of equipment, to a general confusion among everyone as to why on earth I would want to do something quite so ridiculous.

According to a training plan that gives me heart palpitations to read these days, I should currently be logging 16 hours of training per week. At the moment in Liberia, it is probably more like 6 hours of running in the rain; 2 sessions of lengths in a 20 metre pool between Pakistani peacekeepers taking swimming lessons; and twice-weekly trips to a dingy hotel gym to ride the stationary bike.

Avoiding holy cows

In any case, I’m determined things will improve, and I’ll keep you updated on it all here. I might not reach the humourous heights of Matt Kurton’s excellent Ironman training blog, but I hope I’ll at least be able to provide a bit of perspective on the incredible places I’m lucky enough to be training, and a few insights into what that will involve – swimming in riptides off the coast of Liberia; avoiding holy cows on a mountain bike in Nepal; and running away from rabid dogs everywhere.

If anyone has any advice on how best to explain to curious African friends what compression socks are, or how to run effectively on non-computerized treadmills, I’m all ears. It’s going to be challenging for all sorts of reasons, but brilliant…

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You can read more on the Accountability Lab blog here, and follow Blair on Twitter here.