Staffordshire Ironman 70.3: Couple keep it in the family
This husband and wife were today celebrating completing the Staffordshire Ironman 70.3.
Oncology nurse Clair Turner was a volunteer who handed out medals to those who finished the very first Staffordshire Ironman 70.3.
The 44-year-old mother of two from Great Haywood near Stafford, recalled: "It was a brilliant day - quite inspiring - and I decided I wanted one of those medals. The emotion and sense of achievement at having completed the challenge was overwhelming."
She had been out running with her husband Lee, also 44, many times before but had never ridden a road bike before and had no idea how to swim the front crawl.
Undaunted she started training with Stafford Tri Club and took the plunge in the event 12 months later. On this occasion it was the turn of Lee to be a volunteer helper. The police constable had been tempted by his wife's enthusiasm for the event and manned one of the feeding stations on the final leg of the gruelling triathlon which involves a 1.2 open water swim, 56 mile road bike ride and 13.1 mile run.
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Meanwhile Clair surprised herself with her performance in the event. She confessed: "I was very worried at the start because I never thought I would be able to complete the course but I did, and finished well inside the cut off time. I was bitten by the triathlon bug."
She started to put the pressure on Lee to join her on training sessions and explained: "I encouraged him to keep me company when I trained. He did and it was not too long before he got hooked on the sport."
He conceded: "It was a daunting prospect but I had known how it would end up for some time. She is a very determined woman. Then the Ironman claw grabbed me. The bug gets right into your system and takes over your life. It was tough but as an event it is second to none."
The couple, who have been married for 22 years, both took part in last year's event, with Clair recording a time half an hour quicker than her earlier effort, but she still finished 40 minutes behind her husband.
"We are very competitive and I hope to beat him one day," she declared.
They spend up to ten hours a week training and Lee confessed: "It is so much easier to do it as a couple, although it still puts a lot of strain on family life. Our two kids thing we are a little bit bonkers but, secretly, I think they are quite proud of us."
Clair and Lee's next outing at Bolton in June will be in a full Ironman event in which each of the three disciplines are twice as long as the Staffordshire race. He admitted: "It will be a big step up - a real test for both of us."
Then they are heading to Majorca but not for a rest. They will be taking part in another race.