From here to Kona – Stewart Conway

When he completed his first-ever Ironman distance triathlon 6-years ago, Stew Conway was hooked. He had fallen in love with arguably the world’s toughest sport. One that sees athletes complete a 3.8km swim, followed by a 180km bike and concluding with a full marathon. Such was his conviction at the time, he made a bold statement to his daughters. He declared that “Daddy was going to go to Kona one day”. From ‘here to Kona’ is the incredible story of Stew’s incredible dedication to fulfilling his dream of reaching the World’s ultimate Ironman.

“If you want something, anything is possible, you just have to apply yourself”

Stewart Conway

From here to Kona

Ever since that fateful day when Stewart declared to his daughters that he would one day reach Kona, he has dedicated every waking moment of his daily life to the fulfilment of this dream. His ultimate goal of competing at the Kona World Championships. Kona in Hawaii is the one race to rule them all – the holy grail for all Ironman distance triathletes.

Every October, athletes from across the world descend to Hawaii’s hallowed shores to subject themselves to a cauldron of heat, self-doubt, and near-exhaustion. Qualification is notoriously difficult. With as many as 80,000 athletes a year vying for the treasured race slots. Of these, only 2000, or so, will ever make it to the start line on race day.

Having successfully qualified at age-group level, Stew is one of these lucky few. Though in truth, his path to Kona has been anything but easy. It requires a level of dedication that is frankly mind-boggling to the average person. Bearing in mind, of course, the fact that he has to cram in training around family life. How does one prepare for the most important race of his life, while also juggling three kids and a full-time job?

This is made possible for Stew living him living his life by one simple mantra. I aim to be the best that I can be every day and only get better and better. It’s an incredible philosophy to have and is the driving force behind a daily schedule that ensures every minute is utilised to maximum benefit, with little time wasted.

Every minute utilised

To understand the sheer level of discipline required to achieve this goal, it is perhaps best to understand the timeline of Stew’s average workday.

  • Up at 4am for a 1 – 1 ½ hour cycle.
  • Back home, transition into running kit.
  • Run to the railway station.
  • Work on the train.
  • Run from train to the office.
  • Lunchtime – Go for a run or (ideally) a swim.
  • Finish work and run to station.
  • Work on train.
  • Run home.
  • Spend some quality time with the family.
  • Bed at 9pm.
  • Rinse and repeat.

The weekend’s arrival signifies ‘long ride day’, so Stew arises at the even earlier time of 2:30-3am to get some time in on the bike. In winter, this involves heading down to the ‘pain cave’ for a few hours on the bike before the family awakens. All of this would be impossible, of course, without the understanding and support of his wife and children. To the extent that his daughters have even formed part of his support network, taking part in Ironkids events, triathlons and making up bottles in support of their father.

Blue Thunder

Of the three elements of a typical Ironman race, Stewart attributes the bike to be incredibly important to the overall race result. After all, it is the longest leg of the race by far and can be the difference between success and failure. Stewart states that riding his Ribble Ultra Tri provides him with the opportunity to ride fast and centre himself. To take on board the all-important fuel in preparation to hit the run hard at transition.

He has christened his CustomColour Ribble Ultra Tri ‘Blue Thunder’. A name he attributes to one of his favourite motivational mantra’s. It is what he repeats to himself in times of severe stress during a race when he is close to hitting ‘the wall’.

Be the storm, fight through whatever it is I am feeling and fight through the environment, I am the storm.

The World Championships

When it was announced that the 2022 World Championships were to be moved to St George, Utah you may be forgiven for thinking that Stewart would be devastated. Such is his mindset, however, that nothing could be further from the truth. That’s just not in Stew’s DNA. Instead, he’s more excited than ever before! Not only does he still get to compete at the World Championships, the dream of Kona still lives on!

Ribble challenged Scottish Artist Craig Black to create a bespoke Acrylic Fusion Endurance SL R Disc. Find out more here.

Design your dream bike with CustomColour in BikeBuildesr. You decide the design, we will do the rest. Find out how to add CustomColour here.

Endurance rider and Ribble Mechanic Brad took on one of Britain’s toughest distance events – All Points North 21. Read about his trials and tribulations here.

1 Comment
  1. I know Stewart as we both belong to the Mid Sussex Triathlon Club. I admire his dedication and positive attitude. Although at 75yrs I can’t compete at Stew’s level I still have that same disciplined and positive attitude. Good luck Stewart you are a great guy ‍♀️

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