A former Cleve man is ready - and set - to compete in the Iron Man 70.3 World Championships in Nelson Mandela Bay, Port Elizabeth, South Africa tomorrow (Sunday, September 2).
Jason DuBois, the son of Cleve residents Peter and the late Diann DuBois, is hoping to achieve a personal best of under five hours in the grueling event.
The 70.3 is a half Iron Man competition, comprising a 1.9km swim, a 90km bike ride and a 21.1 (half marathon) run.
Jason, who turned 40 in October, will compete in the 40-44 age group and is representing Singapore, where he has lived with wife Rachel since April 2015.
Competing across Asia and Australia, Jason has now completed around a dozen half iron man competitions and three full iron man competitions (3.8km swim, 180km bike ride, 42.2 km run). He aims to complete his fourth full iron man in Langkawi later this year.
The newfound focus on triathlon is something of a radical transformation for Jason, who up until about a decade ago never took sport or fitness very seriously.
“I played football and tennis in Cleve and then had a good little break - around 15 years!” Jason said cheekily, although it turns out this may have been key to the current success of this late-starter triathlete.
“My lack of exercise has saved my body and knees and has allowed me to feel pretty good into my later years,” he said.
“A lot of people can’t believe that it’s the same person whose worst sports injury was cramping up while yawning!”
The Iron Man 70.3 organisation holds 130 different events internationally, attracting around 130,000 athletes, each hoping to become part of the exclusive group of 3000 qualifiers for the world championship.
Jason achieved a personal best time of 5:09 in the Langkawi (Malaysia) 70.3 earlier this year, earning second place in his age group, his first trip to the podium and his invitation to Africa. He achieved a 33 min swim, a 2:31 ride and a 1:57 run (plus transitions).
“I’d had a couple of top 10 results but this was the first podium,” he said.
As Langkawi is known as one of the hardest events because of its hilly course and heat, Jason hopes the cooler climes in South Africa may help him achieve his goal of coming in under five hours.
In the leadup to a race, Jason does between eight and 13 hours of training per week.
To keep it fun, he rides as part of a club most mornings and has a run club that goes to a different Hawker Centre (Asian outdoor food court) for food and beers on a Monday night.
“It’s pretty social,” Jason said.
Jason said Rachel, who has traveled to South Africa with him, is an excellent support, “and is excited about the race, about a holiday, and about not competing!”.
Rachel retired after completing her first Iron Man competition, and is herself an accomplished triathlete, runner and cyclist. Jason is currently ranked number one male for Singapore in Iron Man’s World Athlete Program (which scores an athlete based on their top three results). Before retiring, Rachel was the number two female.
Both Jason and Rachel also regularly compete in other cycling and triathlon events around Asia, including throughout Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines and China, sometimes with groups as part of the Australian and New Zealand Association (ANZA) which they belong to. The couple have made many close connections with ex-pats in Singapore through ANZA and both Jason and Rachel were named the ANZA Triathletes of the Year for last year. Jason is now triathlon director for the group and is excited that several group members are also competing in South Africa.
Jason’s father Peter was all set to watch the world championships online and track Jason’s progress.
"I’m obviously very proud of what he's done,” Peter said.
“A lot of Jason’s compatriots comment to me they never thought Jason was the sort of guy to get involved in Iron man competitions.
“It all boils down to what Rachel's inspired him to do.
“I went to Noosa to watch him compete and I watch with interest on the website every time one [another race] comes up.
“I've never aspired to do marathons myself,” said Peter with a smile, "so good on him!"
One of Jason’s oldest friends from Eyre Peninsula and a groomsman in he and Rachel’s wedding, Tony Ramsey, wished ‘Dubbo’ all the best ahead of his race.
“It’s truly a champion effort, coming from a guy who couldn’t run out of sight on a foggy night going back a decade or so,” Tony said.
“He is like a good red wine; gets better with age.
“Good luck champ.”
Jason says the multisport aspect of triathlons is part of the reason he keeps signing up for them.
“There’s always something you can improve on: your swim, ride, run or your transition, something.”
“There’s always the motivation to have the perfect race.”
While most world championship competitors are racing in age groups, there is also a very strong professional field this year, with the three best triathletes in the world at the moment competing including a two-time Olympic Gold medallist.
“I’m pretty excited to be in the same event,” Jason said.
“Hopefully I’m on the run leg before they finish so I can actually see them.”
Jason was educated at Cowell and Cleve area schools and did his final two years of schooling as a boarding student at Rostrevor College in Adelaide.
He studied Electrical and Electronic Engineering at university in Whyalla while doing a cadetship with BHP, and later worked as an engineer and project manager in Adelaide, the UK and Brisbane.
He now works as a program manager for real estate firm CBRE.
KEEN TO FOLLOW JASON’S RACE PROGRESS?
Anyone interested can follow Jason’s progress in the race by filling in the following details in the Athlete Tracker section of the Iron Man Tracker App or ironman.com
Competitor Number: 1320
Age group: 40-44.
The race will start at 3.00pm Australian time (7.30am local time in South Africa) with Jason’s age group set to enter the water at 3.08pm, eight minutes after the professionals.