For nine hours, 55 minutes and 59 seconds one Red Deer man put his body and mind to the test in one of the toughest feats of endurance – an Ironman race.
Sheldon Timms not only finished the 3.8km swim, 42.2km run, and the 180km bike ride – he finished only 38 seconds away from a trip to the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii later this year when he finished in seventh place in his age group.
“They gave away four spots to Worlds,” explained Timms of the Ironman race which took place in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho on June 28th. “The first three guys took their spots, then neither of the fourth and fifth place people wanted the fourth spot so it rolled to sixth and the guy that was in sixth took it.
“It was a long day to miss that spot by such a small time margin but that’s just the way life goes sometimes.”
Timms may have crossed Ironman off his bucket list – but he added not making it to the world championship this year is only motivation for him to keep pushing and to continue to shave down his time for next year.
The Sylvan Lake-born athlete began his triathlon journey in 2010 when he completed the Woody’s Triathlon.
With little experience in running and swimming, but having down hill mountain biked extensively in his high school years, Timms found himself with a learning curve ahead of him when a high school friend approached him asking if he wanted to train for an Xterra Race.
Similar to Ironman in endurance, Xterra takes athletes off the paved roads and onto the trails to run, the swim takes place in open water and the bike course is on intense off-road terrain.
“My strength is definitely biking – having a background in down hill mountain biking has really helped me on my biking aspect,” he explained. “I had done a bit of running in the past but nothing competitively other than the Woody’s Triathlon.
“But two years ago when I started doing this I couldn’t swim 50 metres straight.”
He credits his determination to the eventual transition into a stronger swimmer.
“I just kept going. I had decided I wanted to test out a few triathlons including Xterra so I had to figure the swimming out. Eventually I hit a point where it just clicked and I’m still not an Olympic swimmer but I can make it through the swimming portions of the race and it’s getting better every day.”
Up next for the endurance athlete will be the Xterra World Championships in Maui on Nov. 1st. He said the summer will be all about working alongside his coach, Teresa Richer, of the Tri-Umph Red Deer Triathlon Club, to who he credits much of his training success to and who he has been training with since November of last year to prepare for the Ironman.
“I thought I knew a reasonable amount about fitness and triathlons,” said Timms. “But the longer I train with her the more I realize how little I know. She has given me so much insight into my training and nutrition and is bringing constant positive advice.”
When asked what keeps him training Timm explained he has always felt the need to live a life less ordinary.
“I’ve never found fulfillment from sitting at home and watching TV on the couch. I strive to do something extra every day and find those little ways to be more than average.”