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“dare to dream”, AND CHASE THAT triathlon DREAM DOWN THE ROAD.

Dare to dream! 

by K.N.*

Minutes after the finish!

One more time, regardless of unprecedented obstacles and hardship George Papastylianou dares to dream, and shows the ability to deliver. In a cold and rainy Talin (Estonia) the 2021 Ironman Triathlon takes place. With the pandemic in a no answer as to when it will end, some athletes do dare to find ways to prepare, and partake toeing up at the start line of lake Harku.

Talin is Europe’s cultural hub with magnificent views and unpredictable weather. . . That was the punishment athletes had to endure with a cold bike leg and a semi rainy run course, which eventually did test many of them.

 George is no stranger or rookie to the Ironman distance, as he counts 4 successful IM finishes, under his heavy belt. Experience and perseverance pay off, however nasty weather conditions show mercy to none, including George. The elements show their teeth as several athletes fail to fight off the weather battle.  Their bodies go through stresses that the average untrained man or woman would break and give up the effort. Usually in an Ironman, the element to overcome is dehydration and glucose depletion. In Talin the latter was the main enemy, as with a cold bike leg, fluid losses are usually reduced, and hypothermia is the ” leading actor”. 

With a survival mode switched on the bike, and a wettish run marathon course, George manages to secure a respectable 80th rank out of 160 race- thirsty age group athletes in Ironman Estonia. George’s ace is the bike, with a solid aerobic capacity many Cyprus countrymen are jealous off. George can tolerate a high pedal wattage force, with low stress on the cardiovascular system. This method and procedure were tried and tested in training sessions, months before the race. That trait balanced his result amongst strong European triathletes of his age group. And that was the pillar to support his finish on the 2021 Ironman Estonia. With out this bike ability, the demanding run alone would have made George’s physiology suffer. And that, gave him more confidence presenting his case at the start line in Talin.

As it came out, Europe has showcased a strong field of triathletes that demonstrate superb bike fitness and consequently a speedy bike split. Historically, George has shown to be very good on the bike, compared to the other 2 legs, but the field was robust. He acknowledges that his swim still needs improvement, compared to the spectrum of athletes in Talin, and this is an element that would add further depth to his performance. However, a finish to such an adventure is applauded, and the journey recognized.

George, an accountant by profession, a father of 2, and husband to supportive wife Rebecca, is what we call an “effective manager of time”, proving that no matter how busy a person is, there is time to work on and prepare for a giant feat. And succeed, because finishing an Ironman is a success on its own, given the survival ability one must endure during the gruelling distances (3.8km swim/ 180km cycling in a rainy course/ 42km running) no break in between…

This is no 5km run around the park, or a 100m swimming all out short effort. Strategy needs to be carefully planned, rehearsed and implemented, and many things can go wrong during the 9- 14 hours of the race. There are many unaccounted variables that affect the results of an athlete and luck is something you need to have with you, on top of insane preparation.  

For George it’s not Gold, or 1st place podium, in this resilient adventure, but an inspiration and an illustration to others, that an athlete from a small island dares to dream and proceed in the trial. And dares to dream amidst a pandemic stress. After all, a vivid life is about trying to chase those dreams and never regretting not going after them. 

Well done, George!


*K.N. is an Exercise Physiologist, graduate of the University of Alabama, an ACSM certified Health & Fitness Instructor, holds an ITU  Level II Certification as a Triathlon Coach, and is a multiple Ironman & Half Ironman Triathlon finisher. He is coaching Triathletes online, teaches Functional Training at ryltoday studio / Nicosia, and performs Exercise Physiology assessments at the Cyprus Sports & Research Center. www.ryltoday.com

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