Ironman Western Australia will be the stage for the penultimate leg of a year-long, world record-breaking journey by one extraordinary Czechoslovakian.
The race, to be held at Busselton on Sunday, December 5, will be Miroslav Vrastil’s 22nd and final Ironman for 2010.
If he finishes, the 59-year-old father-of-five will break the world record for the most Ironmans completed in one year. He will have raced over almost 5000 kilometres in 12 months.
â€œThis year’s Ironman race in Busselton is going to be especially extraordinary for me: joyful and difficult at the same time,â€ Vrastil said.
â€œIt definitely won’t be an easy thing to do, especially after competing in four Ironman races taking place one after another, with only one week between each race â€“ Ironman Florida, Ironman Arizona, Ironman Cozumel and Ironman Western Australia.
Miroslav Vrastil with Peter Vabrousek
â€œ(But) I am convinced that I will finish it and will have successfully closed this year’s goal â€“ doing 22 Ironman races in one calendar year.â€
Most athletes do not compete in more than two Ironman-distance races in one year due to the extreme demands it places on the body.
It also makes for a demanding travel schedule â€“ which doubles as recovery time for Vrastil, who has been on the road constantly, crossing the globe from New Zealand to Germany, China to Brazil, Spain to South Africa and encompassing eight of the United States of America.
He kicked off his campaign with Challenge Wanaka in New Zealand in January. His next race will be Ironman Wisconsin this month.
The three-time Olympic rower said part of his motivation for embracing the ambitious goal was to â€œset a good exampleâ€ to his children â€“ all of whom are competitive athletes.
â€œI cannot say exactly what is behind my decision to do this,â€ he said. â€œIt was an idea and I thought, `why not?’ I was once told I would never walk again and at that point I thought to myself `one day I will make a world record’.”
Doctors recommended that Vrastil have his right leg amputated at the groin when they found a cancerous tumour in his knee in 1981. He was 30.
Vrastil chose to have surgery to remove the tumour instead and six months later he was back in training. He finished fourth in the world rowing championships in the same year.
After retiring from competitive rowing, Vrastil turned his hand to coaching, and then to teaching. Ten years later he tried his first duathlon. Despite finishing almost last, he was hooked on multi-sport.
â€œMy rowing experience and sports experience in general have helped me in life to strive, to compete, and not to give up, and that reflects in triathlons too,â€ he said.
Vrastil has competed at Ironman Western Australia every year since 2007, and has never been out of the podium places for his age group.
In the 16 races he has done this year to date he has had nine top-three finishes, including wins at Ironman Haikou and the Moritzburg Triathlon.
â€œI am really glad that Ironman Western Australia is organized as the final one at the end of the year,â€ Vrastil said.
â€œI like the Ironman at Busselton most from all the Ironman series.â€
Vrastil’s wife and children, aged 29, 28, 24, 19 and 12, will travel to Busselton to watch the final chapter of the epic goal.
His son Miroslav Junior, 28, also a national rower, has completed Ironman Western Australia in less than 10 hours twice.