Steeling himself for the ironman

September 05, 2017

Rural Tri Series at the Victoria Park Lake, Shepparton on Sunday57Fine form: Steve Gray finishes second in the male 40-49 division.

ECHUCA-MOAMA Ironman Steve Gray arrived in the US at the weekend, headed for Tennessee to compete in the 70.3 world championships.

He flew out on Friday with the intention of getting in some training in the conditions ahead of the race on September 10.

Gray said he had trained hard in the lead up to the event, doing around 12-13 hours a week since qualifying for the world championships at the Ironman 70.3 in Ballarat in December last year.

There were 30 qualifying spots up for grabs at Ballarat and Gray’s second place in the 45-49 age group in a time of four hours and 32 minutes saw him take one of them.

He’ll now take on the best of the best from around the world.

‘‘To go from a national race at Ballarat to be competing against the best from around the world is unbelievable,’’ Gray said.

‘‘I did a lot of training in the lead up to Ballarat and it’s stepped up again since then.

‘‘It’s been hard to train through such a long, cold winter and I’m looking forward to getting into the warmer weather.’’

He did a lot of sauna work after swimming and often used the stationary bike indoors to get his body acclimatised to the warmer conditions.

Gray hoped to achieve a personal best time when he races on Sunday and do as well as he can for his country.

‘‘I went to the 2009 world championships in Florida and have wanted to go back ever since,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve qualified a couple of times over the years, but the timing had never been right until this year.

‘‘I’ve been training well and look forward to going in fit and uninjured.’’

Eight years on, and eight years older, Gray wanted to reach a time close to his first world championships where he finished in a time of four hours, 20 minutes and 29 seconds.

‘‘It’s pretty hilly over there and my time will depend a lot on the course,’’ Gray said.

‘‘I’d be happy to finish in the top 20 in the world.

‘‘To make the top 10 would be a dream and if by some miracle I finish on the podium I doubt I’ll be coming home.’’

The course includes a 1.9km swim in the Tennessee river, a 90km bike ride through mountains in the Chattanooga region and a 21.1km run through the city.

His wife Bec and daughter Matilda will be there to watch him race and the rest of his family will fly over after to share in a holiday.

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