Sean Conway completes 102 iron
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Sean Conway completes 102 iron

Apr 01, 2024

Sean Conway sets a new record for the most long-distance triathlons completed on consecutive days after a monumental effort over 102 days

This competition is now closed

By Rob Slade

Published: July 20, 2023 at 8:01 pm

Sean Conway has today completed his 102nd iron-distance triathlon in 102 days to break the record of 101 previously set by James Lawrence, AKA the Iron Cowboy.

For over three months, Sean has been waking up at 4:29am and heading straight to the swimming pool to begin his day’s work with a 3.8km swim.

Supported by a crew and members of the public, he’s then been embarking on an 180km bike and 42.2km run.

Speaking on his Instagram part-way through the ride on his 102nd and final triathlon of the challenge, Sean said: “I feel good today, annoyingly. I wish I felt this good for the last 101 days. But it’s emotional, yeah. I can’t believe it’s nearly done.”

Just one single long-distance triathlon is a monumental challenge for many, with some pro triathletes completing it in less than eight hours and age-group athletes taking anywhere between that and 17 hours, which is a typical cut-off time for many Ironman events.

In the early days of the challenge, before his body had adapted to the sheer volume and impact it was facing, his times were close to that typically cut-off point.

Day two, for example, took 16 hours and 55 minutes, severely restricting the recovery time Sean had before starting again early the next day.

Slowly, though, his body started to adapt. On day 22 he finished in 14 hours and 11 minutes, and by the time 220 Triathlon joined him on day 58 (read about that in 220‘s August issue, on sale now), he’d got that time down to 13 hours and 36 minutes.

By this point, Sean and his team had also nailed the routine. Rolling out of bed at 4:29am, he’d be driven straight to the pool at Mold Leisure Centre, just outside of Wrexham, with snacks and breakfast already prepared for him.

He’d often be in the pool by 5am and out in not much more than an hour. Then, he’d use the toilet, brush his teeth in the shower and get ready, while his crew would set up his kit, bike and nutrition.

If he was lucky, he’d have strong riders with him on the bike, holding a decent pace and acting as a wind break.

A route made out of several loops would allow him to complete the 180km with minimal elevation gain and multiple pit stops as needed to fuel in the village of Holt.

T2 would traditionally be in Queensferry, where Sean would set out for a two-lap run that’d take him along the River Dee, into Chester and back.

Over the last 102 days he’s faced all types of weather, including baking days during a heatwave, torrential rain and even biblical thunderstorms.

Each day, he’s not only had to face the challenge of completing a long-distance triathlon, but he’s also had to consume around 8,000-10,000 calories to keep his body going.

That’s hard enough in itself, but it’s made all the harder when you just don’t fancy anything, as Sean often felt. He’d called it flavour fatigue.

To get the calories he needed, he’d eat everything from crisps, meat, fruit, pasta, oats… even coconut oil by the spoon and double cream by the carton!

That’d all be supplemented by high-carb drinks from Optimum Nutrition.

But why exactly did Sean decide to take on this mammoth challenge? Well, it’s kind of his job.

As an endurance athlete, Sean’s been taking on challenges of this ilk for the past decade, swimming, cycling and running the length of Britain, cycling around the world and setting the fastest unsupported time to cycle across Europe.

By his own admission, he’d already done something first, the fastest and the furthest – now it was time to do the most of something.

Following on from an unsuccessful attempt in 2022, Sean has now ticked that off, taking the Iron Cowboy’s record in the process.

While tackling this challenge, Sean has also been raising money for a good cause – a foundation called True Venture, which is dedicated to getting children into sport and keeping them interested.

Check out the August edition (issue 419) of 220 Triathlon for an in-depth look at how day 58 of Sean’s challenge unfolded.

Alternatively, head to Sean’s Instagram page to catch up on the action or visit his website to find out more and donate.

Top image credit: Justin Fletcher

220 Triathlon, Features Editor

Rob Slade joined 220 Triathlon as features editor in April 2021 and has a background in adventure sports, which he developed during his time as editor of Adventure Travel magazine.

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Sean Conway has today completed his 102nd iron-distance triathlon in 102 days to break the record of 101 previously set by James Lawrence, AKA the Iron Cowboy.How long is an iron-distance triathlon?A monumental challenge220‘s August issue, on sale nowWhat’s a good triathlon time?Getting into the swing of thingsFree 12-month Ironman training planHow to train for your first IronmanHow long does it take to train for an Ironman?All for a good causean unsuccessful attempt in 2022the August edition (issue 419) of 220 TriathlonSean’s Instagram pagevisit his websiteTop image credit: