WITH Ironman Wales is returning to Tenby this weekend, an opera singer will ensure a musical start to the event.

The September 9 internationally-important triathlon this year has a record, sold-out field of nearly 2,400 athletes wanting to take part in the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run.

One of those is professional Welsh-Irish opera singer, Phil Gault, lining up on Tenby’s North Beach to take on his first ever Ironman.

Before he starts the challenging event, Phil will have the honour of leading athletes and spectators in the singing of the Welsh national anthem before the start of the race.

Anyone who has been to Ironman Wales, whether as an athlete or spectator, will know what a special moment the singing of the anthem is.

“It will be one of the most amazing moments of my life, and although the day will be unforgettable in so many ways, I know that the experience will stick with me forever,” said Phil.

He added: “I really like a challenge and Ironman Wales is one of the top ten hardest [long] distance races. I’ve heard that the atmosphere in Pembrokeshire is the best of any Ironman course in the world, and who wouldn’t want to experience that first-hand.”

While most first-time Ironman athletes prepare to have every detail in place for before the start of their race, Phil will also be preparing to sing the famous anthem.

He will be singing some guest spots in a charity concert for the Tenby Male Choir this evening, September 6, preceding the race and decided to reach out to Ironman to offer to sing the anthem.

“I know that the anthem before the start is an incredible moment, and I wanted to be a part of that. I’m hoping that it will actually help to keep me focussed if I am thinking about my singing, rather than being nervous about what the rest of the day will hold.”

Through his training, Phil has been through a myriad of conditions which will stand him in good stead for race day.

“Although I’m planning to race on a TT bike, I wanted a road bike for training, so I built one out of bamboo. Building it left me with a sense of great achievement, and I have painted it in Welsh colours, complete with a dragon on the front, as a tribute to my first Ironman.”

Like Ironman training, Phil has also been preparing for the singing of the anthem – which he will do in a wetsuit.

“The key thing with opera is practising what you will be doing in performance conditions, much like course specific training in triathlon. One day, I answered the door to the postman, who had been aware of Mae hen wlad fy nhadau wafting down the street, and he was rather taken aback to see that I was wearing my wetsuit at 9:30 in the morning in my living room.”

Like most first time IRONMAN athletes, Phil is most looking forward to crossing that famous finish line on the Esplanade.

“While I’m looking forward to leading the anthem, [I’m most looking forward to] the race itself and the atmosphere in the whole of Pembrokeshire, and the amazing feeling of being in amongst all of it. I know that at the end of a gruelling day, I will relish the chance to prove that I can do it and can call myself an Ironman.”

As part of his journey, Phil is also raising funds for Parkinson’s UK with a goal to top £1,000. His uncle and a friend both suffer from the disease and he has pledged to help the organisation continue doing the work they do.

His fundraising page is justgiving.com/fundraising/phil-gault