In awe of Iron Man

By Warrick Smith

Craig Baillie may appear to be the average second year Masters student, but looking past his seemingly ever-present golden mullet he’s a man that has seen and achieved very much. Baillie managed to complete the Half Iron Man last year as well as winning one of the Athletics Club’s highest achievements: the “Toughest Foot” award.

The Iron Man is an extreme long distance triathlon event which entails a 3.8km swim, a 180km cycle and a 42.2km run. The Half Iron Man involves a 1.8km swim, 90km cycle and a 21.1km run. This event is not for the faint hearted and requires many hours of dedication and hard work but, as Baillie confirms, it is not an easy task. “The important thing has always been to be prepared for whatever race lies ahead although, in all honesty, I can’t say this has always been the case with me,” says Baillie, “but during December, I often found myself emerged in ice-cold Kowie Waters as early as six in the morning – that wasn’t always easy”.

Recalling some of the races Baillie competed in last year, he tells of his favourite and his hardest races. “I ran my first Two Oceans Ultra last year. Yes, the race was long and the final 10 kms were excruciating but the atmosphere of the race, with the kind of support given to the runners, and the amazing scenery does a great deal to take a lot off one’s concentration of the pain. Two weeks after the race a mate and I ran the Settlers Ultra down to Port Alfred. We took it pretty slow and found the final 5km a bit difficult. That one was probably the toughest.”

Looking back on his performance last year, Baillie modestly explains his desired plans and goals for 2008, “I think I’ve already managed to tick a big-guy off the list in doing the Half Iron Man and I’ll definitely be doing it again. It’s a good training exercise for the Iron Man and, God willing, I’ll do that in 2009.”When asked of his plans for the Comrades Marathon in June, Baillie jokingly replies, “I’m still speculating”.

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