From giving up running in his 60s due to calf muscle injuries, to doing his first triathlon at 64 and attempting to be the first 75-79 year old to complete Ironman Wales. This is Alex’s story…
Alex Heron’s triathlon journey started when he was 64 years old. After always being a runner, he hung up his running shoes in his early 60s due to developing some calf muscle injuries and focused on some more ‘sensible sports’. He bought himself a bike and asked his local farmer about swimming in her lake. He met some like minded individuals whilst swimming in the lake one evening which led him to join their club: MVH Triathlon Club in Derby.
Alex’s first experience of completing a triathlon was Derby Triathlon in 2013. He said “I stopped half way through the swim because I was out of breath. On the bike, I rode with my goggles round my neck, mud guards on the bike, a light and a bell.” On returning home, he received a phone call to inform him that he’d won the 60-64 age category. From here, Alex did research into the times that you needed to qualify for London 2013 Sprint World Championships. After realising that it was doable, he qualified at a Northampton qualifier and came around 25th in his first World Championship.
Since then he has competed in the World Championships in Edmonton, where he came 11th in the Sprint and 6th in the Aquathlon. And he has bronze and silver medals in various European Sprints. This is when Alex started to think about middle distance.
In his first Ironman 70.3, in Dublin, Alex said “I had a bad bike crash the week before so I rode the whole of the bike course having to stop because my shoulder and neck were wrecked. I couldn’t reach my bottle. I had to stop to drink, stop to eat. I had to run with a sling round my arm. And I came 2nd there in my first 70.3.”
“Then I started doing European middle distances and local middle distances. I won the British Middle Distance a couple of times. And I have a couple of silvers at European.”
Multiple people have pointed out to Alex that he could do a full Ironman. But he has repeatedly refused. However, the partner of one of Alex's riding buddies came to him one day and said ‘look Lisa really wants to do Ironman Wales, would you consider doing it and being her cycle training partner?’ to which Alex replied ‘I always said I wouldn’t do it’. But he said “but then you get roped in. And there you are. I’m doing Ironman Wales.”
Alex is raising money for Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP). His daughter, Dr Jessica Heron, became CEO of the charity after studying Experimental Psychology at Oxford and getting her PHD. The charity aims to raise funds for research into the condition of postpartum psychosis; increase awareness of the condition; provide peer support for partners and campaign for ‘Mother and Baby Units’. If you’d like to donate to Alex’s Just Giving page, you can find it here.
So, Alex has worked with his swim coach, ex Olympic athlete Andrea Whitcombe, to come up with a training plan. He will be using Ironman 70.3 in Swansea as a warm up and to get a good picture of how he’s shaping up for the September race.
Alex finishes by saying, “All my life I have been average at everything. And I’ve wanted to get the GBR tracksuit for something […] Then triathlon came along and I got the GBR tracksuit. So I was happy.”
Welsh Triathlon would like to wish Alex all the best in his challenge of completing Ironman Wales and we can’t wait to celebrate all his successes!