IRONDAD INSPIRES ENTIRE FAMILY TO COMPETE IN IRONMAN 70.3 LANGKAWI
Competing in an IRONMAN event requires discipline, determination and commitment. These traits are cultivated over time and carried by every IRONMAN athlete through a 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.195km run.
When Alfred Cheong made the decision to compete in an IRONMAN event - an endurance sport which has slowly become a global phenomenon, he knew it would a be life-changing one. Little did he realise, he would be turning his family of five in a group of triathlon disciples.
“I started IRONMAN in 2017 after reading articles about Yee Sze Mun, who is the oldest IRONMAN (82). I visited him at his home, and he showed me all his medals. I was truly inspired! It was then that I made up mind to take on IRONMAN,” says Alfred, a Managing Director at his own engineering firm.
At 55, Alfred puts many of his contemporaries to shame with his slender and toned physique. Despite starting his IRONMAN journey in his early 50s, he went straight for the full distance IRONMAN at his very first IRONMAN event.
“I was introduced to Karen Siah who was my first coach. She initially asked me to go for the IRONMAN 70.3, but age was catching up and I feared of missing out (Uncle Yee did his first IRONMAN at 58), so I signed up for the full event! To kick-start my training, I joined the Olympic Distance event and signed up for the Penang Cross Channel swim. It all began from there.”
This year, Alfred will be accompanying his wife, Christine Loh, 52, and their two eldest children, Joanne and Samuel Cheong on their maiden attempt of the IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi. They will take on the challenge to swim 1.9km along the beaches of Pantai Kok, bike 90km on hilly terrains of Langkawi Island, and finish off with a 21.1km run towards Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa.
So, how did he inspire his whole family to take part in their first IRONMAN 70.3 event in Langkawi this October?
“At first, we only accompanied him,” explains Christine. “Then we figured, since we were all following him to all these beautiful places and treating it like a vacation, why not start joining him for IRONMAN competitions too!” she continues with a laugh.
Not only did Christine remain as Alfred’s biggest supporter, she began to develop a passion for triathlon herself.
“I began to exercise, but it was not on a regular basis. I registered for the Standard Chartered Marathon, and the aim was just to finish the race! After that it was a Half Marathon with the family in Chiang Mai, and soon I was beginning to love this fast-paced healthy lifestyle,” adds Christine.
“It also became an opportunity to encourage my kids to take part. Once in an event in Phuket, I purposely ran behind my daughter to ensure she finished the race! It makes me happy to see that this has become a family affair now.”
For Alfred’s daughter Joanne, seeing dad embark on this IRONMAN journey was a motivation for the 27-year-old to join in the family adventure.
“Dad has so much energy at his age, and it is an inspiration for us kids too. I started off by running in 2011, before turning to swimming and cycling after. It was a challenge at first, but I am glad I gave it a shot. You never know if you can do it, until you actually start it,” says Joanne.
For Samuel Cheong, 24, starting out on this challenging routine was a chore at first, but the middle child in the family was too so inspired by dad, he has already undergone a warm-up test for IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi, endearingly known as the Torture Camp amongst the triathletes of the RC Coaching Team.
“It is actually an IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi simulation which gives the participants the chance to experience the course. I found the hilly terrain nicknamed the Three Sisters & Mother in Law pretty tough, but after training on-site, Langkawi isn’t so scary anymore,” Samuel says.
The Cheong family has another triathlete son, Bryan,17, who completes this IRONMAN family.
With everyone except Bryan (underage) preparing for IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi, almost all their conversations have been triathlon related.
“Even our family dinner is IRONMAN related!” says Alfred with a laugh.
But prepping for the half distance IRONMAN event is no laughing matter.
|The family's training room|
Everyone in the family has individual training regime, mainly comprising a six-day week training. This includes 12-14 hours per week of training, with weekdays training taking up to two hours and weekends around five hours of running, cycling and swimming.
“Diet is also important, and I stay away from any fast or processed food. I do consume protein shakes and supplements to boost my energy levels,” explains Alfred, who wakes up at 5am daily for training.
Will all the time, money and sacrifice to prepare for an IRONMAN 70.3 event pay off?
Alfred certainly thinks so.
“I think working out as a family has made us closer than before. It builds character, helps you cultivate a stronger mind, and most importantly you feel great after exercising. I would recommend it to anyone.”
Alfred’s family has already made an impression even before IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi, and competing as a family will only make their bond stronger.
We wish them ALL THE BEST