Ken Byrne Athlete Ambassador
Ken has rheumatoid arthritis but still manages to train and compete in endurance sports. He talks to Sundried about Ironman racing and marathon running.
Have you always been into sport?
Yes, all my life. I played soccer for Home Farm FC. We are in the Guinness Book of Records for being domestically unbeaten in 206 games spanning from age 11 to 17. I also have 6 International caps at Junior level. And played League of Ireland for a number of years. I would try any sport and watch a lot of sport.
What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?
A friend did one and told me about it. I was just swimming at the time so I got a bike and started training. My first triathlon was a sprint distance and I got hooked from then on. I joined Pulse Triathlon club and learned more about the sport and just took it from there.
What’s been your favourite race to date and why?
Ironman 70.3 Dublin 2017. I wasn't sure I would be able to do it plus the support was amazing. It was a big goal considering I started with sprint distance and also had some medical issues in the run up to it.
And your proudest achievement?
In triathlon, completing an Ironman 70.3. In soccer, representing Ireland. This year I also completed Dublin City Marathon.
Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
The toughest was an Olympic distance triathlon that I did before the Ironman. I had a poor bike leg and got bad cramping and a dodgy stomach in the last 10k. I was not going to do the run but my family were there and gave me the confidence to try the run. I cramped for the first 5k then struggled with the last 5k. I finished but it was not pretty.
I'm lucky not to have had many disasters or made many mistakes and thankfully nothing that has resulted in a DNF.
How do you overcome setbacks?
I try to accept the situation I am in. I have overcome many medical situations to allow me to reach the start line of races so whatever I am presented with I try to find a solution. I always think about the fact that there is someone who can't do what I am doing. One foot at a time as the saying goes.
What advice do you wish you'd been told before you started competing?
The water is cold! Doing triathlon in Ireland is great but the swim can be tough in such cold water so I try to warm up before. Also, keep something in the tank for the run as it's easy to go too hard on the bike and blow up on the run. Finally, nutrition is important as you do longer distances; I am still learning but getting there.
What are your goals for 2019?
I want to try another Ironman 70.3 and improve on my last effort. I am also considering another marathon after saying never again after this one.
I have a medical procedure to recover from first so my main goal is to make a good recovery and to get back training as soon as allowed.
Who do you take your inspiration from?
I have rheumatoid arthritis and I read a lot about people overcoming all types of issues to achieve their goals, it's these people who are an inspiration to me. For example, Tim Don and Camelia Pederson coming back to compete at such a high level after such bad injuries really drives me.