Book Review: Operation Ironman by George Mahood

A couple of weeks ago I finished Free Country by George Mahood (read my review here) and enjoyed it so much that when I noticed that he had written a triathlon related book I had to purchase it.

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As the front cover says, from hospital bed to the starting line of an Ironman. For those of you who don’t know what an Ironman is, it is a continuous race (or event) consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, finished off with a full 26.2 mile marathon. There is also a time limit, generally 17 hours, but as George finds out on his journey, the particular Ironman that he has entered has a 16 hour time limit.

George isn’t unfit. He played 5-a-side, cycled to the shops, ran a bit, including a few marathons, so when his back started hurting it put a stop to all these things, as well as impacting upon looking after three young children. Eventually, his back problem is diagnosed and an operation is scheduled. Convalescing in hospital George comes upon the idea of completing an Ironman later the same year, as motivation to recovering. Ironman UK at Bolton would have been at the ideal time, but was full, so a race in France was entered.

The book is very funny, especially when George realises that he has been swimming wrong all these years, and then finds out the same with cycling and running. I often find adventure or sporty books more fun when the protagonist doesn’t really know what they are doing, making mistakes all over the place. His training is sporadic, to say the least, with very little running, not wanting to place a strain on his back. George also doesn’t have all of the expensive kit, borrowing a bike from his father. He does join Strava, and I have requested to follow him, although he hasn’t accepted my friend request yet.

What I also loved about this book was that George wasn’t looking for a respectable finishing time, he was only looking at finishing, making notes about cut-off times. There is a great deal of pressure to perform well at an Ironman, which is one of the reasons that I haven’t done one for over 20 years, but George has put the idea into my head that maybe when I turn 60 I should do another. I would follow George’s lead and simply aim to finish and try to enjoy it as much as possible.

This book isn’t just for triathletes, it is that fun to read, and I gave it 5 out of 5 on Goodreads. Added to that I will also be purchasing more of George’s books.

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