Luke Tyburski takes the ultimate triathlon challenge: 2000kms in 12 days, from Morocco to Monaco.
Four years earlier, I stared aimlessly at a world map, with only adventure on my mind; the route of The UT simply came to me.
The Gibraltar Straight between Spain and Morocco stood out, as did the southeastern Spanish coastline, then I simply looked further along the Mediterranean coast and found Monaco.
With no endurance sports background, or even owning a bike, and having never swum laps of a pool in my life, I gave myself only four years to train for this mammoth feat
Setting off from Tarifa, the most southern town in Spain, my heart pounded as I began my first ever open water endurance swim. A deep blue abyss lay below me as I was constantly raised and lowered by the continuous swell. Dodging huge metallic shipping tankers and sprinting for numerous hours through the regions renowned strong currents, the swim was an epic adventure in itself.
After 5:11 hours I covered 25kms and reached the Moroccan shoreline, although elated, I still had 100kms to cycle that very day.
Dazed and confused
Day two saw me cover an energy sapping 370kms on the bike, (consuming many 33Shake chia energy gels as fuel) I got three punctures, and cycled many miles along Spanish motorways, but at by 1am I had finished this 17-hour day.
Later that morning after a restless sleep, I felt shattered.
I struggled throughout the first few hours, having only a brief burst of energy, before it simply vanished all together. During the night I lost radio contact with my crew, which could have been disastrous, as I have no recollection of the final 2-3 hours I cycled.
My crew eventually found me swerving awkwardly across the multi lane road, incoherent!
The next thing I remember is waking up in a hotel room not knowing how I got there. My team enforced a rest day; due to my inability to stand on my own two feet, they deemed cycling out of the equation.
The following two days I covered 335kms and 210kms respectively, now in excruciating pain as I had badly strained my left hamstring, so each turn of the pedals felt like it was being clamped in a vice.
I eventually finished the bike leg of The UT covering over 1300kms.
I was excited to start the run, as it was my strongest of all three disciplines, and I didn’t have to sit down any longer, which my tender backside thanked me for.
After the forced rest day, I now had the equivalent of 14 marathons to cover in six days to arrive in Monaco on time.
I got off to a solid start while racking up a double marathon on the first day, but it ended with me passing out from complete exhaustion on the side of a French country road. Luckily I had a crewmember with me, who called for help.
Once again I woke up in a hotel room not knowing how I got there – alarmingly this happened again the following day. My crew became deeply concerned of the potential long-term damage I may be doing to myself as I continually pushed my body to shut itself down.
Along with my body shutting down, I now had a tear in my quadricep, yet another setback. With each step I felt the fibers of the muscle tearing, once again my crew expressed their concern about what long-term damage I may be doing.
Crossing the line
Just shy of 20kms on the third running day, now hobbling badly, I made the decision to get back on my bike to finish The Ultimate Triathlon.
The remaining 70kms I cycled that day (while using only with one leg) was the most painful experience I had throughout the entire UT.
The final three days were split into 150, 100, and 100km days, I was in agony at times. A sharp stabbing pain injected in and out of my thigh with each revolution I pedaled, resulting in many unintentional screams.
For years I thought about running into Monaco to finish The Ultimate Triathlon, so with 150 metres before the border, I swapped my bike for running shoes and deliriously staggered into Monaco.
A rock in the middle of a roundabout bordering France and Monaco with the words “Principaute de Monaco” was my target. As I gave it a big kiss, the pulsating pain I was experiencing subsided so I could enjoy the moment.
Although The Ultimate Triathlon didn’t exactly go as planned, I still covered 2000kms in 12 days, while adapting to setbacks, persevering when times were tough, and never gave up on finishing this epic multisport challenge.
When reaching your limits, it’s only here where you’ll catch a glimpse of your true potential.
The Ultimate Triathlon documentary will be released in 2016.