Ultraman athlete Alan Macpherson has reflected on his ‘coming of age’ in sport, but remains hopeful it will not be his final stand.
The 39-year-old who was born in Inverness in the Scottish Highlands and now lives in Great Wheltenham, near Bury, is back in Suffolk having competed on the picturesque Hawaiian Island of Kona at the Ultrman World Championships.
However, for anyone with envious images of beautiful coastline, scorching weather and clear seas, think again, as the event represents more of a torturous hell among paradise for the 35 competitors taking part with a 320-mile course, consisting of a 6.2-mile swim, 261.4-mile bike ride and 52.4-mile run, in just three days.
“It was tougher than I could have expected right from the start,” explained Macpherson who clinched 18th overall and 13th in his age group, in a time of 28 hours 53 minutes and 54 seconds, just over six hours behind eventual winner Alexandre Ribeiro.
“I knew the swim would be the worst part and had been warned about rip-tides, jellyfish, changing currents, it certainly lived up to expectations.
“I was gobsmacked at just how hard it was, I was absolutely shattered.
“From there I had to take on the brutal the bike ride, I think even the best cyclists in the world would struggle to get into double figures miles per hour and that is for 90 miles.
“The 171-mile bike ride on the second day is the one I really looked forward to, but at the halfway point I felt myself deteriorate and there was nothing I could do about it, it was just a case of getting to the finish line in one piece.
“The double marathon on day three was my lowest point, the tarmac just became a haze, I lost all notion of what I was doing, it was torture.
“For me it was more than just a race, it was a lifetime ambition, my biggest test and I had to finish.
“The finish line was always going to be emotional and I was just so overwhelmed that I had done it.
“It was everything I expected and more, I loved every minute of it and I’d go back tomorrow if I could.
“From landing in Hawaii to leaving it was absolutely magical, I’ve certainly lived my dream.”
However, for a man fittingly nicknamed Mr Mad, the story is far from over, as he now turns his attention this year’s Ultrman World Championships in Canada.
Having received his invite as one of only 30 competitors, Macpherson now has a new dream to fulfil, to become the first British athlete to compete in all three Ultraman World Championship destinations, having already conquered Wales and Hawaii.
And despite overcoming his greatest-ever challenge, not purely for sporting success, but an ongoing battle against his inner demons of suffering from the debilitating Crohn’s disease, the inspirational athlete is far from ready to give up on his ultimate passion.
“To have the chance to be the first British athlete to do all three championships would be massive, that is now my focus,” he added.
“After that, I’m not giving up, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t eyeing up further distances, it is tempting.
“Kona was the best experience of my life, it was the point where I came of age and made my mark in sport, but I’d hate it if it was my last stand.
“ I would be disappointed if Kona is what I was remembered for.
“While I still have that desire to compete at the highest level, then I will.”