BRIDLINGTON lifeguard Ryan Hepworth will be pushing himself to the limit at one of the world’s toughest endurance races.
A trip to Hawaii will be no holiday for the 24-year-old as he competes in the Iron Man Triathlon World Championships in October.
He secured his place on the international stage by finishing as the first Briton in his age group at the national final in Bolton, despite only starting to compete in the marathon challenge a year ago.
The gruelling test sees racers swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles and then run a full 26-mile marathon.
Hepworth, who works as a lifeguard on Bridlington’s south beach over the summer, said: “My first triathlon was at the same event last year, when I was raising money for the RNLI.
“I really enjoyed it and got the bug and decided to do it again. Last year I was just trying to complete it, this year I was trying to compete.”
At Bolton, Hepworth was third in the 18-24 age group, and was the first Briton home. Overall he finished 48th and was up against several professionals from all over the globe.
He completed the swim in 55 minutes and 10 seconds, which placed him 65th.
He spent 5 hours, 49 minutes and 26 seconds on the bike, which was the 81st fastest time, and he completed the run in a remarkable 3 hours 11 minutes.
His overall time was 10 hours, 3 minutes and 39 seconds, which was a massive improvement on his effort of 11 hours and 45 minutes in 2010.
“It’s very tough, and it will be even tougher in Hawaii when the temperature is probably going to be 30 degrees-plus.
“But how you do on competition day is determined by how much training you put in.”
For Hepworth, who lives near Beeford, that means up to 25 hours a week spread over six days, and diving his time between the three disciplines.
“I train largely by myself, it’s hard to find anyone willing to do a six-hour bike ride with me at weekends,” he joked, although he is a member of the Barracuda Triathlon Club which is based in Hull.
Helen Peterson, East Riding RNLI Lifeguard supervisor, said: ‘We’re all extremely proud of Ryan and the determination he has shown to qualify for the Ironman World Championships is nothing short of incredible.
“Fitness is important to all RNLI lifeguards but Ryan has certainly raised the bar for his colleagues now.
“We’re all wishing him the best of luck for the competition in October where he’ll definitely be one to watch.”
As well as training for the World Championships, another big challenge is finding the money to get to Kona in Hawaii.
“The entrance fee alone is £400, and I think the trip will cost the best part of £3,000 but this is a chance of a lifetime,” he said.
He is keen to hear from local businesses and organisations who would be willing to sponsor him.
Anyone who can help is asked to contact the Free Press sports desk by calling 607507.