Welland Valley Triathlon Club’s Mark Gray topped off an amazing year with a phenomenal performance in the Ironman 70.3 Xaimen triathlon in China.
This race was a qualifying event for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii next October – something Gray narrowly missed out of on while competing at Ironman Frankfurt this summer.
This race took place on the small island of Xiamen, a few hundred miles north of Hong Kong and consisted of a 1.9km swim, a 90.1km bike leg and finished off with a 21km (half marathon) run.
Gray was third in his age group coming out of the water in a time of 33:17 despite strong cross currents to contend with.
He gained another place on the multi-loop bike leg, finishing second in his age group with a time of 2:21:47 and reaching an impressive average speed of 38.1kph.
The final run leg was extremely challenging with temperatures topping 40 degrees Celsius, with high humidity and no cloud cover.
Despite this he was fourth on the run with a time of 1:41:36.
There was then an anxious wait until the evening before Gray knew if he had qualified.
But his overall time of 4:45:01 secured him a slot to represent Great Britain in his age group at Ironman Kona; the pinnacle of long distance triathlon racing.
His performance put him fourth in his age group and 36th overall from a field of 1,700 athletes.
Gray will now have a few weeks rest before his training recommences early in the New Year.