38-year-old New Zealander Rhys Chong completed an Ironman in 12 hours 55 seconds. Then he wrote a book about it. First Time Ironman is a slim volume; at only 120 pages, you’ll get through it in a couple of hours.
With it being such a short book, it’s neither an in-depth guide to Ironman training (you won’t find any training schedules or meal plans here) nor did I feel like I was with Chong every second throughout his journey to Ironman finisher. Given that his recollection of weeing himself during the bike leg of the race is the most graphic part of the book, it’s probably a good idea that I wasn’t with him at that particular moment.
Chong comes across as committed and focused during his training. Either that or he didn’t want to waste the money he’d spent on his team which comprised a head coach, swim coach, bike mechanic, nutritionist, massage therapist and mental conditioning coach (Chong’s a physiotherapist, so he didn’t need one of those). In case we didn’t guess at that point that this dude has a bit of cash, he tells us he almost bought a bike for £7,000 and spent £1,500 on wheels. His coach talked him out of it; maybe he was worried his bill wouldn’t get paid. Chong also mentions his house has ‘several flights of stairs’ and I’m guessing this isn’t Chong poshing up the fact he lives on the top floor of a council tower block.
At the end of most of the fifteen chapters are three tips. Don’t expect anything mind-blowing or illuminating. The first tip is ‘Make the decision to do an Ironman by paying the money and entering’. Not very deep. And as for, ‘Don’t buy gadgets you don’t need’. Well, where’s the fun in buying gadgets you don’t need, huh?
As mentioned above, Chong comes across as committed and focused but not in a way that’s arrogant or pretentious. What is lacking, however, is any warmth or light-heartedness and the overall tone of the book is rather dull. I haven’t read any other Ironman books, but there’s bound to be better out there. Still, if you want a quick read about one man’s journey to Ironman, then Chong’s your man.
First Time Ironman by Rhys Chong is published by Ecademy Press and has an RRP of £12.99.