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Hawaiian Dream for Dermot Galea

Posted By Sportinmalta On October 26, 2013 @ 7:54 pm In Cycling,Featured | No Comments

Birkirkara St. Joseph’s Dermot Galea considers his qualification to the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii as the epitome of his brilliant triathlon carrier.  Every triathlete in the worldwide triathlon community dreams of one day securing a Kona slot.  In Galea’s case, his qualification was twice as significant, being the first Maltese to be on the start line of this massive manifestation of sport.  Ironman Hawaii has been the target of the Birkirkara St. Joseph triathlete, for the past seven years, during which he scheduled his life around this target, even missing important races in the local calendar.

 

For Galea, the day of the big race started at 3:30 a.m.  Following a breakfast of peanut butter toast, Galea, assisted by his fiancée, made his way to the race starting area.  He had mixed feelings of excitement and satisfaction now that his dream was about to become reality. On arriving at the transition area, he checked his bike and made sure that whatever he needed for the cycle and the run segments of the race were in place.  The race was to start at 7:00 a.m., however the Birkirkara man was at the swim start a good twenty minutes before, in order to secure a good spot.  The first 200 metres were extremely difficult, with swimmers hitting each other in the usual frenzy in huge mass starts.  Luckily enough Galea managed to squeeze himself into an empty slot where he could get into his rhythm.  Notwithstanding his total concentration on the race, the environment of such an extraordinary event was overwhelming, and Galea could not but enjoy it to the full.  He swam the 3,800 metres in just over an hour, during which he was lucky to be hit in the face only once, halfway through.

 

Following the swim and a fast transition, Galea was quickly on the 180-kilometre bike route.  His aim was to sustain a constant pace to save his legs, knowing well that the second half of the race was to be characterised by strong winds blowing across the route.  In such events, the prevailing climate has a significant impact on the final result.  Galea experienced a very rough time in the final 40 kilometres of the bike segment, taking the strong wind head on, while sustaining a constant level of energy in reserve.  He cycled the distance in 5 hours and 17 minutes.

 

Next on the cards was the third and final segment of the race, a 42-kilometre marathon.  By the time Galea started this marathon, temperatures were soaring.  His priority at each and every station was to keep well hydrated and to keep a low body temperature, at times filling his cap with ice flakes letting it melt on his head.  Certain areas of the run were extremely desolate in a vast landscape of lava void of any spectators and any other signs of life.  Such a  hostile environment was a psychological challenge for the Birkirkara triathlete.  However his motivation superseded the odds, spurring him on to maintain his constant rhythm.  The final kilometres in this mother of all triathlons were a total flashback experience for Galea, his tribulations over the years along the route to Kona and the support he was constantly given.  The support of Johanna Calleja, his fiancée during his build-up for the race and on the big day were instrumental.  So was the support of his parents, his Club in which he was born and bred as a triathlete, the local triathlon Federation of whom he is the national coach, and his sponsors Starbene and Jaycee Malta.  The final few kilometres will remain in Galea’s memory for ever.  In the final 200 metres, proudly wearing the colours of the Club that unreservedly believed in his abilities over the years, Galea grabbed the Maltese flag from his cheering fiancée, and holding it aloft crossed the finish line in exactly 10 hours.  Finally his name, club and country are engraved in the annals of Ironman Hawaii.

 

Dermot Galea, head of Birkirkara St. Joseph’s Triathlon Section and National Coach of the Malta Triathlon Federation has no immediate plans for his competitive future.  All he wants to do at the moment is savour his epic journey that is Ironman Hawaii.


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