HM Coastguard competes in triathlon world championship

HM Coastguard competes in triathlon world championship

'I really wanted to challenge myself and it paid off, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done'
SCOO Bex Owen and CRO Alex Tennant, before taking part in Ironman World Championship

Two members of HM Coastguard have returned from Hawaii with triathlon world championship medals.

In October Senior Coastal Operations Officer Bex Owen and Coastguard Rescue Officer Alex Tennant were whisked off to Kona to take part in the annual Ironman World Championship. 

This year the championship was divided by gender, making this the first ever female-only event of its kind.

This invite-only triathlon is one of the world’s toughest, made up of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile cycle and a marathon (26.2 miles). This put both Coastguard’s training and love of exercise to the test.

“Everyone wants to qualify and get here, getting the invite was like a pipe dream,” Bex said, pictured below.

Both based in the south of Wales, the two Coastguards regularly take part in sporting events and challenges. From half marathons to bike rides, their passion for adventure and fitness has taken them all across the globe. 

Ironman however is one accomplishment Bex and Alex will never forget. 

Bex said: “I wasn’t sure whether to take part or not at first, but I knew this was a lifetime opportunity.

“It wasn’t just about taking part in Ironman; it was experiencing the culture, history, and meeting people from all over and hearing their stories. There were even people in their 70s competing. 

“The splitting up of men and women did get a bit of backlash, but the standard was so high and the majority completed the whole thing, so that felt incredible.”

Alex added: “What made it feel really special was the atmosphere and support, it really was a celebration for everyone that made this such an empowering experience.”

Bex and Alex beat their personal bests, Bex completing the swim, cycle and marathon in 13 hours and 47 minutes, and Alex in 14 hours and 37 minutes.

Alex said: “I knew taking part in the swim would be a real challenge for me, and in the lead up I wasn’t sure how I’d complete a marathon in the heat. 

“I really wanted to challenge myself and it paid off, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

Bex added: “I tend to be very hard on myself, but it was a tough course with open water swimming and a hilly marathon in hard conditions. We did the best we could and we both smashed it.”

Bex was only invited to take part in August, meaning she only had around two months to prepare.

With training six days a week, some days with two sessions, she said: “I do things like this because I enjoy them, exercise is my relaxation, but this required more training and discipline. I had a coach for the first time for more structured training.”

Alex, pictured left, added: “The training is my down time and I love it, so that becomes part of the journey too. There’s never just the destination.”

Organisation, discipline and swimming are just some of the skills Bex and Alex took from their time with the Coastguard into the championship. 

“I love being a part of the Coastguard, it has taught me so much and so many different skills,” Alex said.

“People spotted we were from the Coastguard and thanked us for our service which was really nice too,” Bex added. 

Taking part in Ironman has encouraged and inspired members of Bex’s and Alex’s teams to also take part in similar events.

Giving advice to those considering a new challenge, Alex said: “Less than two years ago I couldn’t even swim, you just need to believe in yourself and don’t let anyone else affect you or your goals.”

Bex added: “I’d recommend training in Wales, with all our hills and weather you become prepared for anything.

“I love what it says on the Ironman medal about ‘moving forwards’, it’s a good mantra to live by. Just go for it.”


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