When Bill Geddes lined up for the gruelling Ironman Canada triathlon in Whistler this past July, his only goal was to earn a spot at the World Championship in Hawaii.
And the Whistler local did exactly that, posting the fastest time in his age group, qualifying him for the iconic race.
Less than two and a half months later, Geddes had another dream: finishing the most prestigious triathlon in the world in beautiful Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, and, despite battling a nagging calf injury for the majority of the race, he now has that life goal checked off his list as well.
Geddes was the lone Whistler representative at the iconic Ironman World Championship on Saturday, Oct. 11, and struggled with a strained soleus muscle that forced him to walk for a big chunk of the run to finish in 12 hours, 32 minutes and 54 seconds, good enough for 65th place in the 55-59 division.
But for Geddes, just crossing the finish line was an accomplishment he'll remember for the rest of his days.
"It was a once in a lifetime opportunity," he said while recuperating in Hawaii. "It was something I always wanted to do and it was fantastic just being here and having a great time."
The race, which Geddes said would be his last Ironman, started off solidly for the Whistler triathlete, who came out of the choppy waters of Kailua Bay in 1:00:52, the fastest swim time in his age category. On the 180-km bike course, Geddes fought against devastating winds that slowed down the entire field, finishing in a respectable 5:39:48.
"The bike portion was calm at first and then it got really windy," Geddes said. "I was told it was about the toughest conditions in the last 27 years with (65 or 80 km/h) winds."
It was early in the run that Geddes realized a lingering calf injury had returned, eventually worsening throughout the 42-km course. He estimates he walked about a third of the run portion, posting a time of 5:39:42.
"I hadn't run for about three or four weeks before I got here so I knew there was a question mark going into the race, and when I started on the run I could feel (the pain) and it got progressively worse and worse," said Geddes. "Going up a hill, it was done, and then I just said, 'I can't ski if I let it get any worse than it is.'"
Geddes has been training with coach Christine Suter since March, and credits her for helping him tackle two Ironman races in the span of a few months at the age of 55.
"She's been really great and got me into a good program," he said. "The difficult thing about the Ironman is that your training so much you've got to try to maintain and keep your body, and at my age, it's pretty easy to have all sorts of issues and problems, and she's really cognizant of that."
For her part, Suter pointed to Geddes' sheer tenacity which helped get him through the race despite a pre-existing injury.
"We knew about his calf going into it, and Bill's a pretty incredible athlete in the sense that he said, 'You know what? I'm just going to go out there, I'm going to have a good time and I'm going to be thankful I can be here,'" she said. "He did incredible."
Race results can be viewed at www.ironman.com
The Ironman Canada triathlon returns to Whistler July 26, 2015.