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Ex AFL Umpire to race at IRONMAN Australia

Former AFL umpire Russell Davidson is looking forward to competing in front of a crowd and hearing cheers instead of boos.

The 47-year-old from Patterson Lakes will leave the backwards running at home on May 1 when he takes on the 3.8km swim, 180km ride and 42.2km marathon that makes up the IRONMAN® Australia triathlon.

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Davidson umpired for 25 years and holds the record for the most Premier VAFA Grand Finals by a field umpire with seven. He also umpired 106 senior VFL games and 50 AFL reserves games, and is now coaching with the AFL, looking after the Female Development program.

His jump from umpiring to triathlon came from a desire to do something different. An accomplished marathon runner with a 2.51 to his credit, he was after something that would allow him to take advantage of his good endurance, while at the same time protect his joints a little from constant running.

“An IRONMAN was always in the back of my mind but something I thought I would never do. I bought a bike and then retired from footy. Hopefully in a few weeks’ time I can say I have achieved it,” he said.

Davidson’s hope for race day is to simply cross that finish line and hear those iconic words, ‘Russel Davidson you are an IRONMAN.”

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“I have been inspired by watching so many great stories over the years and seeing people finish an IRONMAN, regardless of their time is inspiring. IRONMAN Australia is an iconic event – what better event to finish than one in your own backyard in such an idyllic setting,” he said.

Like many first time IRONMAN athletes Davidson is most concerned with the swim, specifically his poor navigation skills while in the water.

“I have a history of going off course in the water. I’ll probably end up doing about 4.5km. Hopefully my wife is still waiting for me when I come out of the water,” he said.

Once onto the run Davidson is hoping to come into his own, with three marathons under his belt and a lifetime of running it’s where he feels most comfortable.

“My most recent marathon was in Sydney last year running a 3:12. Prior to that I ran two Melbourne (Frankston to Melbourne) marathons in 2002 and 2003. In 2002 I was shattered to run 3:00:52 seconds, just missing the magical three hour mark. In 2003 I was lucky to run a 2:51. I’ve also completed three Oxfam 100km runs, our best effort being 15:30:00,” he said.

Race weekend will see more than 2400 age group athletes chasing their own personal bests.

Race day is on Sunday, May 1 2015.

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