From the archives: Tim Don - 4 x World Champion, 3 x Olympian, Ironman World Record holder
Tim Don - 4 x World Champion, 3 x Olympian, Ironman World Record holder, "Man with the Halo"
Episode 106: Tim Don - 4 x World Champion, 3 x Olympian, Ironman World Record holder, "Man with the Halo"
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Show notes (please see Timestamps below for more detail)
Welcome to The Greg Bennett show, an AnyQuestion podcast hosted by Former Professional Olympic and World Champion Athlete Greg Bennett.
For the past two years, Greg has chatted with the world's greatest athletes and high performers, to find out how they got to the top of the world, and how they are able to sustain it.
Over the next 4 weeks ... having searched through the archives, we've found some exceptional episodes that we are wrapping up in a bow and "re-gifting" to you.
In this episode Greg Bennett chats with, Tim Don - 4 x World Champion, 3 x Olympian, Ironman World Record holder, and the "Man with the Halo".
Together Greg and Tim discuss Tim's journey back from breaking his vertebrae in his neck, three days before the 2017 Ironman World Championships. Tim describes the process of the halo and how it worked, his fears, his pain, and how he slept, or rather didn't sleep for 3 months. Tim shares how the documentary "The man with the Halo" came about. His sponsors at ON running decided it could be an inspirational story for others, to document Tim's journey back to racing, specifically racing the Boston marathon exactly 6 months after the broken neck. 2017, was a year of contrasts for Tim. Winning and breaking the Ironman world record in Brazil in early 2017, coming 3rd at the 70.3 World Championships, and then breaking his neck in October. This journey and the way Tim illustrates it is far better to listen to than read about it here.
Tim describes how he got into endurance sports. He started swimming but became obsessed with running. He was surrounded by the world's greatest runners. Including Kenyans Daniel Komen and Paul Tergat. At the age of 14, he was encouraged by his friend Stuart Hayes (2012 Olympian) to race a local duathlon (run, bike, run event). Tim finished the top 6 and with it qualified for the British team to go to the European Championships in Finland where he finished 4th (3rd British). Tim grew from strength to strength and by 1998 Tim won the World Junior Triathlon Championships in Lausanne Switzerland. It was full steam ahead from there. Tim qualified for the British Olympic team for the Sydney Olympic Games where he was 10th. He won the World Duathlon Championships in 2002, Finished 18th at the Athens Olympic Games and Won the World Triathlon Championships in 2006 back in Lausanne, Switzerland where he had won his Junior World title 8 years previous. He went on to compete again for Britain at his 3rd Olympic Games in Beijing where he was forced to withdraw due to sickness. Tim went on to win the ITU World Series event in 2010 along with the world's largest paycheck for that year of $200k. In 2012, Tim missed the British team for his home Olympics in London, due to the fact the British federation would choose a domestic to help the Brownlee brothers secure their Olympic Gold and Bronze. Tim was ranked 3rd Brit, but the selection only looked at who could assist the Brownlees do their job. Tim's friend who got Tim into the sport twenty years previous got the spot and his first Olympic birth.
Tim describes what it took for him to win the Brazil Ironman in 2017 and the world record in the process. He had no idea what the crowd were yelling when they said he could "break the record". He was simply trying to win the race. He won Brazil Ironman in 7hr40min23sec and 22minutes in front of second place and set the fastest ever Ironman time for victory.
Tim describes his incredible support of his sponsors and the Triathlon community. His sponsors Oakley (since 1998), Specialized and ON running. And more recently Athletic Greens that he swears by and uses religiously every day.
6.15 – 2017 a year in two-halves
6.55 – The crash in 2017 - “I was very fortunate an Australian age grouper was behind me after the crash, he was a doctor and told them not to move me”
8.30 – Thoughts going into Kona Ironman 2017 - “It’s arrogant to go into an Ironman expecting you’re going to win... but I thought I could fight for a podium”
10.30 – The Halo – “Pat McKeon flew home with me” – Boulder Community Hospital “Dr. V” Neurosurgeon – Aspen color, fused or Halo were the options. “What is a Halo?”
16.30 – Coping with fear with humor - “I wasn’t the nicest person to those who came in contact with me, especially the first three weeks, because that’s when the pain really hit me”
18.30 – Sleeping with the Halo – “I had to sleep bold upright” – “I’d get 20min naps”
20.40 – I want to retire on my own terms – Documenting the recovery with ON running – The founder Olivier Bernard. “The man with the Halo” award winner director Andrew Hinton – started about 4 weeks after crash – Franko who manages – ON running - thought the first edit was too dark. It was therapy.
30.30 – Removing the Halo and preparing for Boston marathon - “When the halo came off the Doctor said it’s like a bowling ball being supported by spaghetti” – the muscles were gone.
33.00 – Boston marathon – sleet headwind, freezing, brutal conditions 2.49hrs
34.00 – Sleeping after the halo was no better
35.20 – Winning Costa Rica 70.3 – first race back
38.00 – Trying to qualify for Kona – Hamburg and Copenhagen Ironman’s – The slot rolled down
41.20 – Bio-mechanic position after a broken neck
43.30 – World Junior Champs 1998
45.00 – Winding the clock back – swimming, running – Sam, Ben, and Mo Farah
51.40 – When did Tim realize you had strengths in endurance sport. “When I was 14”, Duathlon. “I finished 4th in Europe but 3rd British”
55.20 – World Junior Championships in 1996 Tim finished 69th. Winning the World Junior Championships in Lausanne, 1998 – Training with Craig Ball, Andrew Noble, and Tim Bentley
1.01.00 – Deciding to go all-in
1.02.30 – Qualifying for Sydney Olympics – Simon Lessing and Andrew Johns. Mark Jenkins and Richard Allen “The Sydney Olympics was the best race”
1.06.45 – Winning the World Duathlon Championships in Alpharetta Georgia
1.10.10 – Cancun World Championships
1.10.44 – 2012 Hometown Olympics in London – The selection using domestics
1.16.40 – Transitioning to the long course – “70.3 training is simple, not easy, but simple”
1.19.00 - “I’m a racer, I love bloody racing, I love it!”
1.23.50 - “Although I’ve done most of my career doing ITU, most of my fondest memories are doing 70.3 and ironman”
1.24.10 – The preparation - Brazil Ironman 2017. Matt Bottrill and Julie Dibens –
1.28.00 – The Brazil Ironman – breaking the course record - 4.2 watts a kg, 4.06hr bike spilt, 2.44 marathon – 7.40.23 “it was more relief than I am the man… I waited for 22mins for 2nd place”
1.34.30 – Kona 2017 – the run and swim were definitely on.
1.36.15 – Tim’s team
1.37.00 – Sponsors
1.38.00 - “It is a community-based sport, it will forever be in my blood”
1.38.20 – Athletic Greens
1.39.20 – Recapping 1999 a week in London celebrating Tim’s Birthday every night
1.40.50 – How to follow Tim – see links
Be sure and check out bennettendurance.com
Find Greg on social media:
And check out Tim Don at
Tim's documentary - The Man with the Halo - Man with the Halo
Tim's coach Julie dibens - https://www.juliedibenscoaching.com
Tim's bike coach Matt Bottrill - https://www.mattbottrillperformancecoaching.com
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