ALONGSIDE the many kilometres Glen Keast travels in his role as Landmark Riverton livestock agent, he also finds time to rack up a few more as part of his training regime.
Since 2013, Glen has been competing in ironman triathlon competitions – made up of a 3.86km swim, a 180km bicycle ride before finishing with a marathon length 42km run.
Fitness has always been important for Glen. Growing up, footy was his major passion, and he played A-grade for a number of years.
But he suffered at least 16 documented concussions, and admits there were probably a few he did not report. When the last one left him in hospital for three days, he decided it was time to give up footy.
For a while he turned to football coaching, but then decided to try running marathons.
After a few years of running, a friend suggested he try bike riding, which prompted him to enter the Victor Harbor triathlon.
While celebrating with friends after successfully completing that event, he came across his next challenge.
“We sat around and thought we were brilliant, and we thought ‘we should do an ironman’,” he said.
The next day he found one coming up at Port Macquarie, NSW, and registered.
None of his friends elected to join him.
I thought I’d do one (ironman event) and tick that box. But I started to think, if I can swim a bit better or do better on my bike, I’d get a better time.
“I didn’t know anything about nutrition, I didn’t have a coach,” he said.
“I had to learn how to swim 3.8km – I knew how to swim but nothing like that.”
As a sign of dedication to his goal, Glen even gave up beer.
“I thought I needed to sacrifice something to achieve something that big,” he said.
He has since decided that sort of sacrifice is unnecessary, saying “everything in moderation”.
But he said preparation for an ironman triathlon was still difficult.
“The day itself is not that hard, it’s the training that does you in,” he said.
“I was doing 15 to 20 hours a week on top of my 40-hour working week.
“It’s amazing what the body will do, it will keep moving forward if you make it.”
Glen initially thought he would achieve his goal and that would be it.
“I thought I’d do one (ironman event) and tick that box,” he said.
“But I started to think, if I can swim a bit better or do better on my bike, I’d get a better time.
“Within two months of the first, I was planning the next.”
Glen said training for an ironman could be difficult to achieve in regional areas.
To gain some extra support he joined the West Lakes Triathlon Club and said that has helped him build his support networks.
“If we lived in town, I could go to swimming, riding and running practice three times a week,” he said.
“Up here I do it all on my own, which is much tougher.”
He swims at the Riverton pool, but as it closes during winter – in the lead up to many of his competitions – he trains at Gawler or Elizabeth pools when he can.
But he said they are no replacement for the beach and estuary swimming of the competition.
He and wife Wendy, who also competes in ironman half-triathlons, have bought a house in Glenelg, which enables them to train more often.
From his base level of fitness, he said it can take about three months to prepare for an ironman competition.
This year his training occurred right in the middle of spring lamb selling season.
When in training mode he estimates he runs 35km a week, rides 200km and fits in at least two, one-hour swimming sessions in each week – all up about 15 to 20 hours of training.
He said there was scope to train more but he wanted to keep some balance.
“I like doing these, I love the satisfaction of completing them,” he said. “I believe I could get better but I’m at a level that I’m happy with the amount of training I’m prepared to do.”
He said one perk to doing so much training was it allowed him to eat what he wanted during that time, but said it could be difficult when he reduced his training schedule after a competition.
There are three ironman competitions in Australia and Glen has finished all three.
He just returned from his second time competing at Busselton, WA, where he achieved a time of 11 hours and 14 minutes – his third-best time.
But Glen said he did not get too caught up chasing times – his personal best is 10 hours and 31 minutes – as it can vary because of what happens on the day.
“The same course, it can be a windy or hot day,” he said.
At Busselton, he was slowed down when a fellow competitor broke their shoulder and took his bag of running equipment to hospital by mistake. Glen ended up running about eight kilometres in shoes a size too small before his shoes were returned.
Despite that, he had aimed to achieve a time of four hours for the marathon, and ended up running it in four hours and 15 minutes.
“These things happen, it’s just ironman,” he said.
This year – a “big competition year” – he completed the Geelong half ironman, the Hawaii half and the full Busselton.
Glen said he decided to give up competing a few years ago.
“I had so much extra time, I just sat at home for three or four months bored, so I took it up again,” he said
“It’s now become a lifestyle, it’s ingrained in me.”