At a height of 200cm and playing weight of 102kg ex AFL footballer Barnaby French was built perfectly for his role as a ruckman in his 133 game career at Port Adelaide and Carlton.
On May 3 at Toyota IRONMAN Australia French, who retired in 2006, will find out if he’s built to complete the 3.8km swim, 180km ride and 42.2km marathon that make up an IRONMAN.
French joins a growing number of former AFL players, who after retiring look to an IRONMAN to provide a competitive outlet.
Former Essendon player and CEO of youth homelessness charity Ladder Mark Bolton just completed March’s IRONMAN Asia Pacific Championship in Melbourne in 10 hours 30 minutes, French will also be raising money for Ladder at IRONMAN Australia.
“It’s funny as players we always find new and more painful ways to challenge ourselves….why wouldn’t you? I’m afraid after this of what comes next,” he said.
French, a firefighter in Adelaide, said it was the banter around the station that first got him thinking about having a crack at IRONMAN Australia.
“Working with the Metropolitan Fire Service, there is such a great community of people involved. There is a heap of diversity of interests and hobbies and when someone throws down a challenge, it tends to snowball,” he said. “I thought IRONMAN sounded like a good idea at the time, so I announced by email far and wide that I was getting involved, so there would be no chance of backing out.”
French has enjoyed the discipline required to train for an IRONMAN event and has relished the opportunity to get back into a fitness routine.
“The challenge with training now is to balance family, work, and friends – I have a much greater appreciation of the effort it takes to keep fit when it isn’t part of your professional life. I used to write off my friends that couldn’t seem to find the time keep fit, now I have a deeper level of understanding,” he said.
As you’d expect given his enormous frame, French has found running the hardest of the three legs.
“A 200cm/100kg frame doesn’t really lend itself to a marathon, so when anyone goes past a six foot six inch praying-mantis loping along the coarse, please feel free to give me a quick bit of encouragement – I’ve got a feeling I’m going to need it,” he said.
Given it’s his first attempt at the distance French has realistic expectations and is simply hoping to finish in good shape, and is looking forward to seeing his family at the finish line.
“I have my wife and kids coming up, along with a heap of friends involved. It’s going to be fantastic to share the experience with them all,” he said.
Race day will also include over 1800 age group athletes chasing their own personal bests.