AN IRONMAN® triathlon consists of a 3.8km swim, 180k ride and 42.2km run, it’s widely considered to be the toughest single day endurance event on the planet.
As a consequence of this most people spend a few years building up to it, it’s far from typical for your first triathlon to be an IRONMAN, but there is nothing typical about Samuel Bush.
The 34-year-old from Bentley Park in Queensland will take on his first ever triathlon at Sunday’s Cairns Airport IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship, Cairns.
The former SAS soldier will not only be combining a swim, bike and run for the first time, but will also be overcoming a broken back he suffered in Afghanistan in 2006, and at the same time trying to raise awareness around the issue of veteran suicide.
“I was cycling casually with a group of friends who have either a) done an IRONMAN or b) are doing it this year and during a coffee ride they tried to convince one of the guys, who is doing the IRONMAN 70.3, to upgrade to the full. The line that hooked me was ‘Imagine how bad-ass it'd be if you rocked up and did an IRONMAN as your first ever triathlon?’ he said. “Even though the comment wasn't directed at me it got the wheels turning in my head and over the next five or six days I'd made up my mind that it was a challenge that I had to take on.”
Bush’s reasoning was pretty sound, he had been through the most difficult and intense Special Forces Selection processes on earth, so why couldn’t he do an IRONMAN.
“One of the greatest strengths of a Special Forces soldier is resilience. There have been many times already in training but I dare say that during the race there will be numerous times where my resilience will be tested. I hope to be able to draw on my experiences to help me get through whatever challenges that I encounter,” he said.
Besides his family, the thoughts of veterans who have returned from the Middle East and are struggling to return to a ‘normal’ life will keep him moving forward.
“I hope that by me doing this will also provide motivation and encouragement for other veterans who are worse off compared to me. There are so many of my generation of veterans that are struggling through all manner of situations,” he said.
“I have been working with other veterans and veteran groups through both cycling and golf with the express intent of limiting and eventually eliminating veteran suicide in Australia. It's a massive issue that I feel extremely passionate about.”
Bush has just returned from the Invictus games where he and a teammate won the golf competition, and had the chance to meet Prince Harry.
“He was a top bloke. It's a big week for him being the face of the event, pulled from pillar to post for probably 18 hours a day. Still at the end he had plenty of time for us,” he said.
The Cairns Airport Adventure Festival is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) as part of the It’s Live! in Queensland major events calendar.
Over 7000 athletes will take part in the Cairns Airport Adventure Festival from June 5-June 13, with both the IRONMAN 70.3 Cairns and Cairns Airport Asia-Pacific Championship IRONMAN Cairns on June 12 sell outs, with 3500 entries across both events.