Monday, 3 August 2009

Without fear of failure...

Well, I promised last night that this evening I'd attempt a blog post slightly more worthy of yesterday's events so here goes...

Long time readers of our blog will have seen me refer to today's quote (see below) on more than one occasion. It was said by perhaps the greatest triathlete of all time and is something that I aspire to one day get close to. This Sunday, during eight hours and 45 minutes of awe inspiring racing, everyone present at Ironman UK was witness to the best example of 'really living' I have ever seen...

Up here in Yorkshire we've become pretty used to success on the international triathlon scene, but even so few could have predicted that a 20 year old lad from York would lead from start to finish over 140.6 miles against one of the world's most established ultra endurance athletes to become the youngest ever winner of an Ironman triathlon... oh, and did I mention it was the furthest he'd ever ridden a bike on his own and the first time he'd ever run a marathon? To be honest though, no amount of stats, figures or split times could get close to describing what those of us lucky enough to witness Phil Graves' Ironman arrival will remember for ever... I'm not one for hyperbole so please believe me when I say this really was the stuff of legend!

Despite coming into the race having won the UK half-Ironman and soon after placing third in the national 100 cycling time trial championships (three hours 37 minutes for 100 miles, on a bike... think about that for a minute) many of us thought this a step too far for someone so young. The common advice seemed to be to stick to middle distance racing for a while, rack up some prize money and sponsorship and maybe in a few years step up to Iron distance... when 'ready'. I've long believed that in order to achieve extraordinary things we need to throw 'the book' out of the window and live an extraordinary life, and Phil Graves is certainly living 'a life less ordinary'. Coming out of the swim with Stephen Bayliss it was no secret that Graves would set about building as big a lead as possible, as quickly as possible. Spectating at the start of the first real climb of the bike course we were initially disappointed to see Bayliss leading the way, 30 seconds later however, as Graves flew past us on his tri-bars pushing what apparently (and what looked like) a 57 tooth chain-ring (uphill - think about it) we were left in little doubt as to who would be first onto lap two. What we weren't prepared for was that 90 minutes later he'd have a lead of over six minutes and would attack the hill (three mile climb, 72 miles of riding and a marathon to go - think about it) like nothing we've ever seen. There really is no way words could do it justice - picture the aggression of a young Mike Tyson and the focus of Tiger Woods - I've seen Ain-Alar Juhansen destroying the climb up the Mirador Del Rio on the way to winning Ironman Lanzarote and that doesn't even come close. The fearlessness with which Graves set about attacking what appears to be one of the toughest Ironman courses in the world was a joy to witness. In a sporting world where mediocrity is rewarded to such an extent that true passion and flair are so often compromised in the name of 'professionalism' it was wonderful to see someone so young put everything on the line, hold nothing back and truly give 100%. I mean absolutely, positively, 100%... everything, really truly everything... it's something that very few people will ever get close to, I certainly haven't... yet ;) 'Everything' isn't measured in times, places or trophies, nor is it measured in money, success or fame... it's all about you, as a person, an individual is defined by their actions, not their outcomes, and on Sunday the 2nd of August 2009 Phil Graves 'really lived'. Perhaps one day, we will too?

"Unless you test yourself, you stagnate. Unless you try to go way beyond what you've been able to do before, you won't develop and grow. When you go for it 100%, when you don't have the fear of 'What if I fail?', that's when you learn. That's when you're really living"
- Mark Allen

See you on Sunday,

T x


Ove said...

You've outblogged yourself! Great commentary on what must be one of the biggest athletic achievements in recent history. He's certainly arrived. He'll serve as a huge inspiration to myself in my training and for alot of aspiring young athletes. Just wish he would get the media coverage he deserves, or the sport of triathlon deserves. Wouldn't it be great for little kids to aspire to be the next brownlee, graves, Wellington or Williams instead of idolising idiot footballers and alike!

Great blog, keep it coming!


Tom Newman said...

Great post pal! I've been following him for a while with his TT'ing etc and knew he'd be super strong but that was way beyond strong.... epic! Loving the 57 ring comment as well :)

Big up to the comment above also - the only time ive ever seen triathlon on the news was on Monday after Jenson raced at London.....some world beaters out there this country should be celebrating!

Anonymous said...

You've said it all. It did inspire. Joe is determined to do Triathlon and is now determined he will cross an Ironman finish line as soon as he's old enough and ready. He's not chasing money or celebrity just glory and high fives.

Sarah S

Tom said...

Glad you enjoyed the post guys :)

It is a shame that so little is made of the inspirational achievements of the talented people we have in this country.

Spread the word ;)


Philip Graves said...

Thanks for your kind words! Made it sound so much better than it actually felt going round there and better than i could ever write! It was a 56 tooth front chainring but the smallest gear i had on was 42x21 for the climb, maby needed a 23 at least as it got quite steep towards the top! Its all the hard Yorkshire training that does it! see you all on the road!

Philip Graves

Tom said...

Thanks for the great comment Philip and good luck for Kona ;)