MATT Nuttall is Hawaii bound after qualifying for the World Ironman Championships.
The 44-year-old from Blackburn secured his place by finishing fifth in his age category of 40-45 at the Ironman UK event in Bolton on Sunday, recording an impressive time of 10 hours 25 minutes.
Nuttall, who finished 45th overall, is excited to finally take his place in the Aloha state against some of the world’s top athletes.
This time last year he had to turn down the opportunity to go for personal reasons, but now finally his hard work has paid off and he is set to compete in the World Championships on October 13.
Nuttall has trained as a triathlete for over 20 years, but has always had designs on a greater challenge.
“I started off doing the triathlon and slowly built up to middle distance races, however I always had in mind I wanted to compete in the Ironman,” he said.
Starting around five months before an event, he trains a staggering 20 to 30 hours a week on average in the build-up to a competition.
The Ironman contest, which consists of a two-and-a-half mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride and finishes with a gruelling marathon is considered one of the most difficult sports in the world.
Nuttall, a Black-burn Harrier, dedi-cated his achievement to his family and friends who where cheering him on throughout the event, he said: “When I was doing the race the support I received from all my friends and family was over-whelming.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them and they definitely helped me through the dark times that you go through in a race like that.”
Once in Hawaii, Nuttall plans to savour the moment, but insists he is taking the championships very seriously.
“Obviously it’s the cream of the crop who will be over there so it will be extremely difficult, I am going to enjoy it but I want to finish as high as possible.”
Also racing in the Ironman UK on Saturday were members of the Chorley Athletic and Triathlon Club, Joe Duckworth and Adam Critchley.
Duckworth finished 77th overall and 15th in the 40-45 age category in a time of 10:54.
Meanwhile, Critchley finished in 146th overall and 30th in the 35-39 age group in a time of 11:27, an improvement of 30 minutes on his 2010 attempt.