3 March, 2018. Samoa – He will be 48 this year but triathlete Darren Young keeps getting faster, as today he slashed his Ironman time to 11hrs and 20min at the Taupo Ironman in New Zealand, placing 39th in his division.
Finishing strong, Young did the 3.8km swim in 1hr and 8min before tackling the hilly 180km bike course. He completed the cycle in 5hrs and 22min. A quick 5min transition to put on his running shoes and he was off to do the marathon of 42km.
Last year, he did the same event in 12hrs and 16min, placing 45th in his division.
This is Young’s third time doing the Taupo Ironman. In 2014 he finished with a time of 13hrs and 20min, placing 169th in his division.
Every Ironman has their challenges in the journey of preparation for a race, but it’s doubtful many would cite dog attack as one of them!
Two weeks before the Taupo Ironman, Young was attacked by a pack of dogs while on his bike doing his usual 3hr training session in the early morning. Young was speeding along a Tuanaimato street when the dogs ran out at him. One crashed into the front wheel, sending Young and his bike flying. Luckily nothing was broken, but Young incurred extensive bruising, especially on his left shoulder.
“I’ve only ever crashed once before,” Young told Samoa Planet. “And that was many years ago when I got my first proper triathlon bike and hadn’t figured out how to use it properly. I crashed on the seawall in front of Aggies and I remember it clearly because a bus full of people at the bus stop saw it all and everyone was laughing. I may have said some swear words!”
Young’s dog-provoked crash came back to haunt him about 6 hours into the Taupo race.
“I didn’t feel my shoulder injury during the swim, but after a few hours on the bike? Oka, se kiga. Then it hurt! I must have torn something in that bike crash.”
Young pushed through and perhaps because of that extra focus required to endure the pain (or maybe thinking angry thoughts about Samoa’s dogs?) – he had a personal best time on the bike, beating his record by 20min from the May 2017 Ironman held in Port Macquarie, Australia.
A key element in Young’s preparation this time, was nutrition as he was determined to get his weight down even further.
“People at home tell me I’m small, and even my wife complains I’m too skinny, but here at the Ironman with all these palagi athletes, I’m fat!” laughs Young. “So my son got me an App to help me track my intake and calculate my daily nutrition. I’ve been weighing my portions and trying really hard to lose weight, but not get weak at the same time.”
Young won’t be weighing his food tonight though, as he told Samoa Planet from the finish line that he was headed straight to KFC with his support crew for a well-earned recovery meal.
It will be short-lived indulgence as his next Ironman is in May when he will head to California to do the Santa Rosa Ironman.
Young is a 2017 Gold Status athlete in the Ironman World Athlete Program and he was ranked 5th in a pool of 5,224 male Ironmen aged 45 – 49yrs, based on the cumulative results of his Ironman races that year.
Young’s time today is a new record for a Samoan athlete at an Ironman event and he follows in the stellar footsteps of athletes like Ray J.Reupena and his 2011 time of 11:23, and Mailata Iosia Leau and his 1989 Hawaii Ironman time of 11:38.
Young is an entirely self-funded athlete who balances his demanding training schedule with running a construction company, and also co-parenting 5 children. You can read more about his journey here: ‘Believe you can do more, and you will’