At the age of 41 Glenn Dobson, a normal bloke, with two young children, mortgage and full time job developed an extraordinary dream…..
To compete in the world’s toughest one day endurance race, the Hawaii Ironman, a 3.8kms swim, followed immediately by a 180kms bike ride, then a 42kms run, every step fighting against the 40+ degree heat and gale force winds that blast across the Lava fields of Kona.
His dream became such a driving force that he packed in his $150,000 a year corporate job and started his own sales training company, calling it The KONA Group, named after the village in Hawaii where one day he dreamed of racing. Coming from a Footy background, Glenn had to learn to swim properly so he didn’t drown in the washing machine turmoil at the start of each race when 1500 other athletes swim over each other as they race to gain a few minutes advantage. He had to harden up his backside to endure hours and hours on a narrow bike saddle designed for people half his size, and he has had to strengthen his legs to endure the constant pounding and strains of a marathon runner.
Over the next 13 years Glenn pursued his dream balancing a growing family, thriving business and over 15 hours a week of training. When asked “how do you fit it all in?” he answers simply “There are two 5 o’clocks in one day, I usually see both of them”. To date, he has completed 20 Ironman races and 16 Half Ironman races in an attempt to qualify for Kona. And every year he came up short, beaten by faster, lighter and better athletes.
While most people look on with awe at being able to even consider starting an Ironman, every time Glenn didn’t qualify for Hawaii he saw it as a defeat. Yet after every defeat he got back on the road, and persevered, pushing himself through the limits of normal endurance, chasing down his extraordinary goal.
In the pursuit of his dream his journey has included running 250 kms in 50 degree heat across the Sahara Desert, and another 475 kms across the Australian Simpson Desert to raise over $32,000 for Breast Cancer patients, and to commemorate his Mum who died of the awful disease. He also survived 3 rounds with the ex Australian Heavy Weight boxing champion John Hopoate!
Then on the 16th of April 2012, Glenn received an early morning phone call from one of his Ironman mates asking him if he had logged onto his computer yet? A call that even before he could answer had him crying like a baby, unable to speak, as waves of emotion overwhelmed him. April 16th was the date the names of the athletes who had completed over 12 Ironman events was released, and who had qualified for the 2012 Hawaii Ironman on October 13th. Glenn had completed 20 and was in. When asked the usual question “why do you do it? why do you put your body through such torture, time and again?” Glenn just answers “why not?”
There is however more to it than he gives away. This year he is raising money to help a friend and other sufferers of Lyme disease, an illness spread by tick bites that affects the skin, joints, heart, and nervous system. For many Australians it is an everyday battle to live a normal life. A battle that Glenn says makes racing in an Ironman insignificant compared to the daily challenges Lyme’s sufferers face.
Going forward Glenn is back training hard as he prepares his body and mind for the race of his life. A day he and his family will remember forever. A day that an ordinary bloke will achieve an extraordinary dream.