'Iron Dad' breaks records with 25th triathlon in a single year
A father from Northern Ireland was celebrating a very special Fathers' Day yesterday after smashing his way into the Guinness Book of World Records.
Declan Loy - dubbed 'Iron Dad' - completed his 25th gruelling Ironman triathlon in a year on Saturday at an event in Estonia to seize the Guinness World record.
Ironman competitions are intensely punishing, with contestants having to complete a 1.9km swim, a 90km cycle and a 21.3km run.
It's a tremendous achievement for the 44-year-old Newry man, who only began training for the extreme endurance sport 20 months ago, after he decided he wanted to raise funds for Super You, a youth suicide prevention charity.
Super You provides live events to educate families and children in the areas of empowerment and mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as providing online training, and funding projects which provide practical support to families experiencing pressure in life.
Declan has travelled the world in pursuit of his Ironman dream, to countries including Cyprus, Sardinia, Turkey, the USA, Austria, Dubai, Bahrain, Sri Lanka, and Spain, as well as the UK.
There are more countries still to go as he aims to add five more Ironman races to reach his personal target of 30 in a single year.
To date he has swum 47.5km, cycled 2,250km and run 532.5km.
When he's not competing in triathlons, Declan is one of Ireland's best-known motivational speakers. An author, speaker, entrepreneur and decision-making mentor, Declan's website describes him as an expert in influence, human performance and business development.
Big-hearted Declan said: "Over the last three or four years all I have heard of is one teenager after another committing suicide and this touched my heart, as I would never want to see this happen to any family.
"Especially when I know key tools that could help anyone not to do such things.
"I felt drawn to help," he said.
Declan, who now lives in Castlebellingham, Co Louth with his wife Karen and three children - Eva Nicole, Cian and Jenna - said yesterday: "Whatever we focus on, we get more of, hence if we focus on failure, failure comes, or if we focus on success, success comes.
"If we focus on how we cure a problem the problem grows, but if we focus on digging up the roots of the problem so the problem doesn't exist, then we can change society for the better.
"The best way to show people how to deal with challenges in life is to create a massive challenge for yourself - and show that the impossible is possible!
"The recent recessionary years have seen families endure enormous pressure.
"Many lost their main source of income, many also lost their home.
"Such experiences leave lasting scars and despite the best efforts of parents to protect the kids, it's their experience too.
"I am saddened when I hear and see stories of people using anti-depressants, drugs, alcohol etc to help cope with the challenges life throws at us.
"It's even more tragic to hear of a teenager or parent taking their own life - the family unit will be affected forever."
Speaking moments after he had completed his record breaking 25th Ironman event in Estonia, Declan reaffirmed his commitment to achieve his goal.
"It's a bit surreal, a bit of a dream come true!" he said.
"It would have been easy for me to just stop after 25, having broken the World Record - but I've committed to do 30 - and it's very important in life that you follow through to the end," he added.
Declan's next race will be the Islander triathlon, which takes place on June 23 at Colchester in England.