There wasn’t a dry eye in the house at IRONMAN Western Australia when Adelaide’s Kevin Fergusson delivered on his three-year promise to his mate Sid James to make him an IRONMAN.
Sid’s dream to race IRONMAN was shattered 25 years ago when he knocked from his bike during a training ride near his home at Victor Harbor, south of Adelaide, leaving him quadriplegic but triathlon’s dynamic duo brought their own special brand of magic to the West in the ultimate display of mateship, loyalty, devotion and selflessness.
Kevin, who has finished more than 30 IRONMAN races, including five IRONMAN World Championships, winning his age group twice, put his body through hell to share the dream of becoming an IRONMAN with his longtime friend.
The 59-year-old Fergusson wore a harness and towed an inflatable kayak containing 60-year-old Sid on the 3.8 kilometre swim leg, he then towed Sid for 180 kilometres in a trolley attached to his bike and on the marathon pushed his mate in a specially designed wheelchair 42.2 kilometres to IRONMAN glory at the finish line on the Busselton foreshore.
Kevin’s expectation was to complete the course in under 17 hours but with the help of fans and supporters along the entire IRONMAN Western Australia course, he smashed out an unbelievable IRONMAN with his best mate, clocking a sensational 14:38:28.
Wherever Kevin and Sid went over the weekend they were treated like “rockstars” but the Busselton crowd kept the best to the very last, bringing the duo home in the style befitting legends, with an emotion-charged stroll down the finish chute.
Kevin and Sid were welcome with one of the noisiest greetings IRONMAN Western Australia has ever produced, a standing ovation and the words they both longed to hear
SID JAMES, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN
Sid was delighted with the result his old mate produced on the day, with Kevin set the day up with a sensational 1:11:44 swim, an 8:32.06 cycle leg and finally a 4:38:29 marathon.
“I am stoked with our time, Kevin said. “I thought if I can get seventeen hours I would have been happy. The cut off on the bike was a worry but we smashed that as well. I can’t believe it. I know the support of the crowd cheering us on gave me the inspiration to go harder and get a good time. I said I wasn’t going to race this but when you get out there you start racing. Yes, I did end up racing it.”
“It is one of the toughest things I have ever done. It was a tough day out there but the first lap on the bike was amazing and the wind was down. I think we went around in 3:45 or 3:50 for the 90km but on the second lap the wind picked up and it was really tough and it really slowed us down. My legs were shattered and I didn’t think I would be able to run at all. By the time we looked after Sid in the transition and got out onto the run, I thought I would take it easy and try and plod along. But I managed to run the whole marathon so I was absolutely stoked.”
“Around about the 40km mark of the run I said to Sid this last bit is going to be so hard. I said, ‘We are not going to run, we will walk down it and lap it up’. It has been three years in the making and to finally get there and make him an IRONMAN, which has been his dream for 25 years, the reward of the finish line was just mind-blowing.”
“The crowd support all along the course was amazing and just here in the finish line and the standing ovation and the spontaneous applause in the recovery tent was outstanding. I can’t believe it. To me, it is so, so rewarding to see Sid out there. He had a ball, he loved it. He had a bit of a sleep on the bike but he always does that. I am really happy with how things went, except for the flat tyre on the last lap of the run.”
“Sid needs a lot of care and then there is the logistics of getting over here from Adelaide, special beds and lifts and all sorts of things. It has been a remarkable team effort from a lot of people here and in Adelaide and we couldn’t have done it without them,” a teary Kevin said.
For Sid James, it was an occasion that was overwhelming and he was almost speechless with the finish line greeting honouring him and his buddy Kevin.
“People along the course knew who we were and what we were doing. It was amazing, every single one of them was cheering us on. I only had one little snooze on the bike.”
“The crowd coming in was deafening, absolutely deafening. As soon as we turned into the chute I started crying. I didn’t think that I would ever be an IRONMAN. I didn’t think it was possible, I really didn’t think it could happen. Kevin is an idiot for taking this on, he really is, but he is a great idiot and I owe him so much,” a delighted Sid said.