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© 2019 by This Girl Does.

  • This Girl Does

Balbirnie House owner completes IronMan Austria Challenge with two hours to spare


Balbirnie House Hotel’s owner and Managing Director Nicholas Russell has claimed his title as an IronMan after completing the challenge in Austria, in what is widely regarded to be one of the toughest IronMan events in the world.

Russell, a member of the Glenrothes Triathlon Club, had trained progressively for years in preparation for the endeavour, which included a 2.4 mile swim in Lake Worthersee, a 112 mile bike ride, followed by a 26.2 mile marathon run with circuits around Klagenfurt and Krumpendorf.


Russell was among 3,000 athletes from all over the world, who had travelled to Austria to take part in the event, which has been described as enjoying the perfect triathlon landscape. With all stages of the event set under time clock challenge, out of 3,270 original entrants, only 2,488 were physically able to complete the challenge. Russell was joined in Austria by his wife Gaynor, and two daughters Isobel and Ruby, who cheered him on at every opportunity.



Seeing so many people gradually failing on the day, was a key factor in making the push for the finish line. Nicholas says, ‘It certainly concentrated the mind, every part of the occasion’s strategic planning needed to be deployed’.


During the race, Nicholas experienced a police-assisted roadside delay of almost 30 minutes during the cycling section, whilst a massive thunder and lighting storm took place.


Finishing with almost two hours to spare, Russell has said:

‘‘Participating in, and completing Austria’s 2019 IRONMAN 140.6 within the allocated timeline, was a profound and surreal experience. As a 5 year case study, the journey has taken me all the way from virtual zero fitness, to successfully achieving a previously unachieved and unthinkable personal feat. My sincere thanks to everyone who has supported me and offered encouragement. Joining Glenrothes Triathlon Club back in 2015 has very clearly been a life-changing experience, the decision to try and become an IRONMAN was inspired absolutely, by seeing what so many fellow club members have previously achieved’.

The success is yet another one to be enjoyed by 51 year old Russell, who runs the award-winning Balbirnie House Hotel in Markinch. Recently named Scottish Wedding Hotel of the Year for the 13th year, Balbirnie also holds the title of Global Wedding Retreat of the Year from the Haute Grandeur Awards.

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