65-year-old triathlete comes back from knee injury to win at gruelling Challenge Barcelona
AFTER two years out of action following a knee operation, keen triathlete John Heaney was hoping to ease himself back into competition with a place in the sun at Spain’s Challenge Barcelona.
But the astonished Bolton Triathlon Club member not only completed the gruelling challenge of a 2.4 mile Mediterranean swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile marathon — he won the 65 to 69 age category.
Mr Heaney, from Boothstown, used to take part in 10 races a year, but that all came to a halt following surgery two years ago.
Since then he has had to build up his daily training sessions.
The Spanish feat is even more amazing as 65-year-old semi-retired taxi driver Mr Heaney only started running again three weeks before taking part in the tough event after tearing a calf muscle in July.
Mr Heaney’s wife, Susan, was at the finish line to cheer him home after he started the race alongside 14,000 other athletes from 35 countries and finished 13 hours and 20 minutes later.
“I hadn’t a clue I had won. I didn’t know until the following morning,” he said.
Mr Heaney, who began competing in triathlons 30 years ago after finishing playing rugby, says he prefers entering events abroad and has previously taken part in competitions in France, Switzerland and Germany.
Mrs Heaney often goes with him.
“She’s my number one supporter,” he said.
Fellow Boltonian, Norman Purnell, came second in the 60 to 64 category, but the race on October 9 was drama-filled as a British triathlete collapsed and died during the swim section and heavy thunderstorms made part of the cycle ride treacherous.
“But rain for someone who trains over Belmont and Rivington wasn’t a problem,” said Mr Heaney.
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