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Islington triathlete Tim Hutchins is determined to hit his 11-hour Ironman target next year after falling just short in his recent attempt in Austria.

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Hutchins, a former amateur rugby player who has been competing at Ironman level since 2012, achieved a personal best of 11:10 earlier this month but missed out on his main objective.

Now the 41-year-old must wait until next year for another tilt at breaking 11 hours in the gruelling endurance event, which comprises a 2.4-mile open water swim, a 112-mile cycle and a full marathon of 26.2 miles.

Hutchins, who played flanker at Haringey Rhinos for several years and is currently the club’s director of rugby, has already pencilled in Ironman challenges in Taiwan and Switzerland for 2015.

“I was well on my way to beating 11 hours, but with about 10 miles left (of the run), my body began to feel the heat, and no amount of water I drank or poured over my body helped keep me cool,” said Hutchins.

“I lost over a minute a mile in those final 10, which ultimately cost me the time I was looking for. I’ve got Taiwan and Switzerland planned and neither of them are easy courses, so I’ll have my work cut out to achieve the target.

“In this sport having a personal best is almost irrelevant because every course is so different, and a lot of people don’t tend to talk about times – but I’m different!”

Hutchins made a slow start to the Ironman Austria event, which was held in and around the town of Klagenfurt, clocking one hour 21 minutes for the 2.4-mile open water swim.

But he overtook 500 athletes during the 112-mile cycle leg with a time of 5:46 and made up similar ground on the run – a full marathon – which he completed in 3:51.

“The run has always been my strongest section and the swim is definitely the most difficult,” admitted Hutchins, who competes in the 40-44 years age section.

“No-one likes the first five minutes because you’re not really warmed up and it’s difficult with so many of you trying to find that swim line. You get kicked in the head and punched in the belly – it’s a bit like being in a scrum!

“I was always a very fit rugby player, but I wasn’t very quick. My fitness and agility really helped me when triathlon took over as my number one sport and then it became more about tailoring my training.”

As well as Ironman – Austria was his fourth event in that category – Hutchins also takes part in several other endurance races each year, including marathons, cycle events and open air swimming.

The next challenge on the horizon is the Vitruvian triathlon – a mere 70.3 miles – which takes place in Rutland at the end of August, and the target for Hutchins will be to lower his previous best of 5:03.

“If I can knock those three minutes off, I’ll be very pleased,” he added.

“My age group is the most popular and there seem to be two reasons for that – because it’s an expensive sport you generally have to be a certain age to afford the gear and so on.

“The second reason is that it’s seen as the new midlife crisis. Whereas before men were buying expensive sports cars, now they’re buying five-gear bikes and heading off around the world!”

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