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TYNESIDER Richard Stabler is to bid for world glory in the gruelling Iron Man triathlon, writes MICHAEL BOWERS.

The 28-year-old Newcastle-born athlete booked his place in October's world championships in Hawaii by setting a personalbest time of nine hours and 45 minutes in qualifying in South Africa, finishing 24th in a field of 1,600.

The Iron Man race consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and, to finish off, a marathon and is a far harder proposition than the standard triathlon event, which normally includes a 1,500m swim and 40km bike ride, followed by a 10km run.

Stabler (pictured right) hails from Newcastle, but now lives and works in London for a photographic agency.

"I was born and raised in Fenham and I return to Newcastle from London when given the opportunity, particularly to take part in the Great North Run," he said.

He took up triathlon five years ago and was previously trained by former Morpeth resident and Olympic long distance runner Jim Alder.

Stabler continues his preparations for October's big event by travelling to Switzerland for the penultimate competition in the sport's calendar before the world championships.

"I started racing five years ago and, the more you do, the more your body becomes conditioned to dealing with the challenge," he added.

"Currently I am training 15 hours a week and I am looking to extend that to 25 hours. The biggest challenge is getting the training done while maintaining a full-time job." His training consists of 100-mile bike rides and 10-mile endurance runs.

While this may be enough exercise for the average man's lifetime, Stabler believes there is more to come from the North East's number one Iron Man.

He said: "I believe I am only reaching 70% of my potential. My qualifying time of nine hours and 45 minutes is a personal best. However, I personally feel that close to nine hours is the benchmark time in which a world-class triathlete is measured." Stabler believes that it is not always the physical nature of the race that is most testing, but the test of mental endurance.

"It was 90 degrees in South Africa. No amount of training could prepare me for such conditions," he explained. "It was entirely energy sapping.

Especially when you are to complete a marathon after a 2.4-mile swim and a 112-mile bike ride. So the race becomes a challenge of mental strength." Despite being based in the capital, Richard remains an avid Newcastle United supporter - and he is understandably frustrated by the club's current battle against relegation from the Premier League.

"It's a depressing situation, it's almost bizarre that it has come to this," he said. "I do think that Alan Shearer is commanding respect and we will survive by the skin of our teeth."
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Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 20, 2009
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