Iron Man 2012 – Joseph Schembri Blog and Photos

15 Feb 2013

Iron Man 2012 – Joseph Schembri Blog and Photos

joefinishlineA massive thank you to all the people who sponsored me to race in the Ironman Ireland 70.3!!

It was hard work, but well worth it knowing that the proceeds will go to fight against cancer!! And more importantly help others who are suffering right now of this terrible disease!!

The training was tough with at least two sessions a day over 12 weeks!! I have never trained so hard and to take part in a sport well out of my comfort zone was simply – A humbling experience!!! I reached my personal goal of finishing in 5hours 28 minutes.

I will continue to raise money for cancer for the latest event please follow my website


How it all started –

In 2010 we lost my Mother; she was diagnosed with small cell cancer and was given on average 3 years to live. The main importance was quality of life! Within 2 months and a lot of chemotherapy and Radiotherapy our mother had gotten much worse and we lost her shortly after!

Jenny (mum) never gave up. Her strength from day to day was inspiring! My mother Jennifer Schembri was and is the strongest most caring person I have ever known. Through all her pain and suffering she never stopped smiling and fighting for us, her family! In her own words she always said “don’t worry everything will be ok” and life is too short, make the most of it” X

In 2011 I was watching TV and stumbled across The Ironman 70.3, there was a report and program showing the event. It instantly motivated me to try out a triathlon, with a vision to race in Ireland the following year in memory of Jenny (mum).

I bought a bike and entered the Warwickshire sprint. I have a long career in Taekwondo and martial Arts, I have fought all over the world and never turned a competition down, whether it TKD, Boxing or Muay Thai, so my philosophy is just jump in, how hard can it be!! The Tri went well and I was hooked. I then entered another sprint in Cheshire; it was after that I decided to go for it and race in the 70.3 Iron man 2012 and start to raise money for charity!!!


I trained a total of 12 weeks for the event and to be honest there’s more ups and downs than you could imagine. I won’t bore you with all the details, but I started training on average 10.5 hours a week to 20hours a week covering around 240 kilometers a week in peak training of Swimming, Biking and Running.

I also kept a log of training and problems I faced, problems that would never enter my mind. I kept falling off my bike : ) I mean I can ride a bike but after long hours on the bike you lose concentration, I fell off once going 30 kilometres an hour and ripped my shoulder out and one time I got hit by a car into another car and my hand went through the wing mirror!! But in these moments I had Tech support, my good friend Brian “The guru” Taylor came to help and in his words said “I think that’s enough for today”

My first sea swimming lesson I got Hyperthermia, I didn’t have the right wetsuit and Barry Island beach is not the warmest place! Haha!!

There is so much to mention, but these things, although they were not positive, had a learning curv and did gain experience from them! (I now have a good wetsuit :))

joeirelandI didn’t join a Tri team or club, but what I have done is surrounded myself with really good coaches and friends who supported me to the fullest, hear is my team.

Swimming – Jane Allely (pool swimming), Rob Salter, Billy and Lauren (sea swimming)

Bike – Me (ha-ha), Toot!! (My Bike’s name) and Brian “Guru” Taylor (Mentor)

Running – All the years of losing weight to fight and my I Phone!!!!!(Music)

I’d also like to give a very special mention to these people

Daranee Griffiths (Head coach naught) for her support, motivation and 2nd memory

Brian Taylor – For his on-going support and friendship.

Gordon Fearn British TAGB Team Captain – For his help with High five (sport supplement and support)

Mum – The obvious I guess

Training done the time has come.

The Event

Friday – Galway Ireland is such a beautiful place, full of character charm and the most genuine friendly people!!

On arriving in Galway on Friday we had our problems, hotel got booking wrong, I got lost, but if anyone knows me then they know I get lost allot ha ha!!! A night in a dodgy BandB and the worst weather you can imagine!! This was part of it all and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

joeireland1Saturday – On Saturday I had to register, it opened at 6am and I was the first one there. The plan was to register; get down to the beach for the practice swim on the race course. Problem was that the waves, weather and water were not looking good!! I registered and went to the beach, on arriving I just walked back and forth, it all looked so cold, there were people

in the ocean, and the locals were even in their in bathers!! I pondered for a while and then decided to take the plunge; I jumped in the wetsuit and had little swim. All good, it gave me that edge for the morning, although the waves were huge and choppy this was nothing to Barry on a bad Tuesday with the wrong wetsuit LOL!!

The rest of the day was relaxing! Me and the coach/photographer put the Bike back together (toot) and quickly headed to the transition, to put toot in and organise my gear! On arriving there was a maintenance centre for the bikes, we thought “toot” should have the best so we popped it in there!! Good job we did as he had bits missing!!!!

Now this story goes back to Barry on the previous Thursday, see to put a bike on a plane you have to put it in a bike bag. And to put the bike in a bag you have to take it apart (getting the picture??), I also have to mention Wendy (my neighbour) as she said so kindly “Joe are you sure you know what you’re doing” haha!

Back to the maintenance tent and toot was missing bits LOL! Anyway the chap just tightened what bits I did have and off I went. Stacked the bike, bagged the gear and run the transition a little in preparation for the morning.

joeireland3After that it was half of Guinness (carbs) and a little rest before dinner. The food for the evening was pasta of course (carbs) and no alcohol (well one beer (carbs) and a glass of wine he he!! Back to the hotel to tattoo me in my numbers, letters and what sleep I could get! ZZZZzzzzzzzz

Sunday (race day) – Now the first thing I’d like to add about race day is waking up at 4am to a barrage of messages from all of you!!! It was amazing the support from family, friends and students all over. The money was coming in, even now weeks later, people sponsoring me and I can’t Thank you enough!!!!

Shower and change into the TAGB tri suit and wetsuit!!!! Tea, Fit line and off we went. All the roads were closed so it was a case of walking to the beach, it took about 10 minutes, I forgot something, but right now I forget what I forgot LOL! Anyway stopped on the way!! espresso!! Water etc. The nervous energy was growing as this was all alien to me; I was unsure of the swimming course and worried of not finishing. But having the coach around solved that! It was a case of “if you don’t win you’re not coming home” And allot of pictures I mean allot!!!! They were calling us for the start (my age group) and that’s where it actually begun.

The Swim

It’s a 2k swim around the boys and back, I’m not sure if anyone in my group new were to go as we were all asking each other!!! The gun went off and that was that. I listened to my coaches advise and followed the pack sometimes passing slower swimmers and then sometimes falling behind faster swimmers :). I got kicked a bit and at one stage punched I guess but it was all good and before I knew it I was climbing out of the water!! I was relieved and ready to hit the bike, I ran to the transition area to find “Toot”.

The Bike

joeireland2I set off on toot out of Galway, I seemed to be alone, but not for long I managed to hook onto a pack of riders. I normally train alone, so it was a comfort being with people and although there is no drafting I felt like I was being pulled along. Nutrition was the next problem I forgot to dink and eat and after about 70k’s I started to feel a bit tired and weak I opened a gel which went all over my leg ha-ha! Now gels are made of pure sugar, that’s right it went all over my leg and dried up in the sun, it was as sticky as hell!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Nightmare!!). My goal on the bike was 3hours, so when I returned to transition and realised I’d made 2.51 I was buzzing!! I racked the bike and started to change trainers for the run.

The Run

In the tent there was allot of stress and people everywhere. I want to express that I had already been racing for 3 and a half hours, drinking water, fit line etc. So I hit another problem!! That’s right “toilet time J” this I will leave to the imagination!!!!! I left the tent and began the half marathon! I started fine and was looking at my watch, I had time to do this and achieve my goal under 5h 30mins. It was 3 laps around the course. There’s not really much to say about this except for the word pain, pain and more pain!!! First lap not too bad, second worse and then on the last lap that massive cramp in the hamstring!! I decided to run through it, it was that or just fall over. I started to laugh as I think I was running a bit like a chicken ha-ha!! Kicking my back heel to my Hammy!! I kept taking on the fluids and gels on every station too!! With about 400 meters to go I felt an energy boost (as you wouldJ) and cruised in!!!! It was over (thank god for that!!)

The Finish

Thank you to all of you that gave me the support to honour my mum – On finishing I looked around and allot of people were crying, emotional!! I picked up water and a silver wrap?????? I put it on like all the others!! I was fine no tears for me!! Then I saw the coach!! I started balling ha-ha!!!! Nuts ha-ha!! It truly was an experience. I finished in 5hours 28 minutes. I was happy!! In the evening we went to the party and award ceremony, it was great to see people from all over the world and they gave out the trophy for winners etc. It was at that moment that I decided that I need to take 30 minutes off my time to compete at top level J And that is another story!!!!!!!!!!

Together with your support we raised over £2000!!!! I am so grateful and humbled! Once again a massive thank you to you all!!!!! Please see the pictures attached and video’s taken my coach and support team Miss Daranee Griffiths


Photos from the Event

Comments are closed.