This week Bill Carne met Tomos Dugmore, a teenager from Llandisilio who has just completed the ‘Swiss Iron Man’ as the second-youngest competitor, and is preparing now for ‘Iron Man Wales’ as his next challenge...

AT just 19 years of age Tomos Dugmore has just returned from a successful completion of the Swiss ‘Iron man’ competition which was held in a picturesque setting around the famous city of Zurich.

He was rightly thrilled to finish 1,011th out of 2,500 competitors, a feat that was all the more creditable because Tomas was the second-youngest competitor and only missed out on being the youngest by two weeks!

He completed the 2.4 mile swim, 112-mile cycle and marathon run in 13 hours and 21 seconds, well inside the cut-off time of 17 hours – and something that will hold him in good stead as he waits to compete in the ‘Wales Iron Man’ in Tenby on Sunday, September 14.

It was in October 2014 that Tomos decided he wanted to undertake such a challenge for charity and was immediately supported by his father Andrew and mother Iris, who enjoy running themselves, when they have time, as they take part in the Colby Park runs as part of a nationwide regime.

He chose McMillan Nurses as his charity for ‘Iron Man Wales’ and has already found support from his colleagues at ‘Bluestone’ as they have acted as marshals at other events which pay cash for good causes to help them out – and this has been channelled into Tomos’s cause so he already had £400 as an early boost.

Tomos has always kept fit because he has been involved in a range of sports (more of that later!), enjoyed running and was the owner of a mountain bike which allowed him to dabble around the countryside near his family home in Llandissilio.

But he knew that for his ‘Iron Man’ attempt he would have to dramatically improve on his swimming and so he enrolled for the ‘Master Class’ lessons organised by Rhys harries in the swimming pool at Crymych, taking part alongside others of a similar interest like Richard Smith and Anthony James.

Amazingly, Tomos also looked for advice and good tips about technique from on-line sources, with video down-loads a really good help, and his swimming, especially out-doors, has grown immeasurably.

“I started out in running at the Cardiff Half Marathon in 2013,” Tomos told us, “and completed it in 1 hour 38 minutes, which pleased me – and then I entered my first triathlon, the Gower Triathlon, and did ok, other than the fact that I only had an ordinary surf suit and almost froze in the open air swim.

“The first time that I swam in the sea this year came when I entered the ‘Slate Iron man’ centred on Llanberis, in the foothills of Snowdon, and the swim in Llyn Padarn was cut in half from 1,000 metres because of the freezing cold – it was disgustingly icy!

“The cycle run was 50kms but started out with an ascent of Pen y Pass and then went up hill and down dale to Capel Curig, which was demanding to say the least – and we finished the run traversing the tricky area near the slate quarry. There were a few of us encouraging each other and luckily by then I had acquired a proper wet suit so managed to survive the conditions!

Since then Tomos has also invested in a new Argon racing bike, a 21-gear beauty which was costly but vital if he is to do well at ‘Iron Man’,

Before the ‘Slate Iron Man’ he started his competitive year in April by completing the 108 miles of cycling for the Tour of Pembrokeshire in 7 hours 10 minutes, and gave him more practice for climbing hills - and a week later completed the Llanelli Marathon, over a fairly flat run along the coastline in an excellent 3 hours 44 minutes.

Following his testing visit to North Wales he then took part in the Pembrokeshire Coast Triathlon around Broad Haven, over the Olympic distances of 1,500 metres swim, 40kms cycle and 10kms run – and was delighted to finish second in his age category.

Not content with that little lot, Tomos then competed in two legs of the ‘Long Course Weekend in Tenby.

“I was pleased with my time of 1 hour 27 minutes for the swim because the water was very choppy, all the more so because there were about 2,000 sets of arms and legs flailing around me and ready to bump me in the eye or other parts of my anatomy!

I also completed the 112 miles in the cycling in a time of 6 hours and 44 minutes and I felt that I was more or less ready for another challenge before my next trip to Tenby – and on the internet discovered there were a few spaces still left for the ‘Swiss Iron Man’, although it cost me £460 to enter!

Tomos also had to pay for his bike to be flown out as he was joined by his dad and younger brother Iwan, a more than useful footballer, rugby player and cricketer.

“Mum and sisters, Sioned and Angharad, had to stay at home but I knew they would be rooting for me – and I have to pay tribute to my mother because she has been a terrific taxi driver over the years.”

In that amazing trip to Zurich they had to register on the Thursday, take part in a race briefing the following day and then upload his bike and other kit on the Saturday.

Tomos had eaten loads of pasta and other carbs on the days before and was up at 4am on the day of the event - and readily admits that he was nervous about the challenge in front of him, but Andrew and Iwan’s support was beneficial as he had some muesli and caffeine intake before turning up at the transition by 7am.

“The swim was tough but in waters of 27 degrees and the bike ride included hills called ‘Heartbreak Hill’, ‘The Beast’ and ‘The Double Beast’ and we climbed them in a temperature or 39 degrees – it was like a desert!”

“The run was just as tough and as well as water stations there were ice stations – and people in gardens helping out with their hosepipes – and lots of cow bells to spur us on!

“But it was all a great experience and I’m looking forward to ‘Iron Man Wales’ now.

“I’ve just got to stay fit by ticking over in training and eating well, thanks to mum.

“Then I hope to raise as much money as I can for McMillan and it will have all been worthwhile – but I’m sure I will still be looking for other challenges in the future!”

We wish Tomos Dugmore every success in the ‘Iron Man Wales’ because his story is an inspirational one – and hope that people will log on to his web-site and help in any way that they can!