Adios ‘Viva’ the VW Van


Less than two weeks after returning from the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii in October as World Hand cycling Champion, I was contacted by my Van sponsor, Fogarty Ltd., with the devastating news that they had gone into Receivership and my beloved VW Transporter, ‘Viva’ would be seized as a Company asset, to be sold to the highest bidder… 

The Van was especially fitted out to hold all my adaptive sports equipment, all my camping essentials and even had a special Kennel for my dogs Monty and Smudge to travel safely with me. We all had many adventures in ‘Viva’ travelling as far east as the Czech Republic, south to Italy, north to the Netherlands and throughout the U.K. The Van enabled me to travel cheaply, using the EuroTunnel and Ferries to get to Para-cycling and Ironman competitions in Europe, carrying both my Hand cycle and Racing Wheelchair, plus my race wheels, tools, spares, which meant I wasn’t restricted by weight or worried about damage unlike flying.

Now I am without transport and living in rural Lincolnshire is proving logistically difficult even to get to swim and gym training in my local Town, six miles from where I live. I’m lucky to be able to train on both the Hand bike and racing wheelchair directly from my front door, but travelling abroad is a different challenge altogether because of the sheer size of these two pieces of equipment.

I’m currently looking for a new Sponsor for 2019, who might help supply an adapted Van. I have new goals for next year and there will be lots of foreign travel, trying to gain vital qualifying points for the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2020. I hope you would like help me on my journey!

VW Van Transporter back view showing fitted bike wheel rack, bed and storage with Hand cycle on ground
‘Viva’ the VW Transporter all fitted out for all my hand cycling racing equipment
Winter camping in Germany with ‘Viva’ 
Advertisements

2018 Ironman World Champion!

IMG_9279

Words can hardly describe how it felt to finally push myself along the finish chute at the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii, with Mike Reilly announcing my name to the huge crowds, ‘Liz McTernan, you are an Ironman!’ Then to be greeted by my daughter Rebecca, running up the carpeted ramp to kiss & hug me and present me with my shell Lei, was a very special moment in my life.

It’s not my first Ironman of course, having already attempted to finish this iconic race in 2017, and then going on only six weeks later, to complete my first full Ironman in Cozumel, Mexico- just to prove to myself that I could do it. Another long year of tough training, another qualifying race in Luxembourg and I had earnt my slot to ‘The Big Dance’ once again.

What is remarkable is that I’ve just become only the second ever female hand cyclist to finish the race and have set a new course record of 14:21:12 hrs. The course for the Ironman World Championships is tough, without a doubt, with a combination of heat, humidity and hills plus fierce winds to contend with, but the mens field seems to have increased in-depth and performance since Hand cycles were allowed to race in 1997, with Australian John MacLean being the first Physically Challenged athlete to finish. For whatever reason, very few women have attempted the challenging course.

I now know of two other female world-class athletes who are preparing to tackle Kona as Hand cyclists, but not until 2021, after the Tokyo Paralympic Games. Currently, there are five qualifying slots worldwide for men, but only three for women, and only three qualifying races in the world in which to claim a Kona slot. I’m hopeful that in 2021, all three slots will be hard to earn and the standard of performance will be even higher, with more female hand cyclists setting their sights on the Ironman World Championships!

 

“Swim 2.4 Miles. Bike 112 miles. Run 26.2. Brag for the rest of your life.”

John Collins, IRONMAN co-founder

 

Thank-you’s:

HuubDesign for providing my custom wetsuit pants for racing and awesome kick pants for pool training plus an awesome T-shirt for the Parade of Nations

TYR I love my swim skin! And my goggles stayed mist-free the entire 2.4 miles…

Wattie Ink for a stunning Trisuit which made me feel like a Pro Triathlete

Challenged Athlete Foundation for once again supporting my sporting goals and dreams with grants for travel and equipment. Stoked to be part of #TeamCAF

T.Balfe Construction for providing a much-needed cash injection as I booked all the Kona accommodation and flights!

OTE Sports/VivoLife/Gu products which kept my energy up throughout the day

Bill McCarrick, my Mechanic and Emotional Support Human at Endurance Sports Travel who tirelessly worked on my hand bike so that I could rack it for race day

Ken & Christine Glah of Endurance Sports Travel, who were excellent Sherpas in my first week in Kona-thanks for all your help

Tealby Tennis Club whose lovely Ladies put on a fundraiser to help with my travel costs

Irwin Mitchell Solicitors for their Disability grant earlier in the year

All my lovely Facebook friends who raised over £1000 to help me get to Kona