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The road to Bahrain

Posted on: Wednesday 1st October 2014

Melanie Askew’s triathlon journey began behind a camera back in May 2013 at an endurance race in France. Inspired by what she saw down the lens Melanie will take her place on the start line at Challenge Bahrain on December 6.

The 41-year-old mother of six was enthralled listening to His Highness Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa recounting his win in a sprint distance triathlon and his upcoming challenge he had set himself to complete a half Iron distance race in Berlin.

“I remember asking His Highness Sheikh Nasser about the strength of mind that was required, it was this that fascinated me most, overcoming physical barriers by power of the mind.” said Melanie.

The family were equally excited to take part when Melanie shared the details of triathlon with them on her return from that trip.

“As a mother of six children the most activity I generally took part in was chasing behind them.  I had and still have a million excuses why triathlon was not for me, and honestly have used them for many years to stay away from all forms of exercise.

It took some months before Melanie could begin her own triathlon path, scheduled for major stomach surgery, which came sooner than expected. Just 12 weeks later was given the all clear to begin.

“It had been 25 years since I had been on a bike, I had never run more than 2km and had not swum other than with the kids since I myself was a child.”

Mikel Calahorra who trains with His Highness Sheikh Nasser set her a program, but an overzealous Melanie injured herself and had to overcome resistance from friends who felt she wasn’t ‘built’ for triathlon and should find something else.

Her first triathlon would be in South Africa, while travelling with the Bahraini team as part of their media contingent covering their participation in an Ironman race.

“This I decided was my opportunity to replace the ‘one day’ label I had put on triathlon with a ‘do it, don’t talk about it’ label,” said Melanie.

“After three weeks training I borrowed a bike, went without a wetsuit, and did my first triathlon (380m swim, 18km cycle, 4.2km run). It didn’t go smoothly – I fell off my bike at transition and my run was more of a jog.

“Then on May 3 this year I again borrowed a bike from Sheikh Khaled (Sheikh Nasser’s brother) and competed in Bahrain my first Olympic Distance Triathlon. I was one of the last to finish and took the full 4 hours, again I fell from my bike this time at 20km, but finishing felt amazing.”

This was the day she decided to do a triathlon in Bahrain – Challenge Bahrain.

Since then she has completed two sprint distance events in the UK, Triathlon Pink which my whole family got involved in, three Olympic, and two long distance events. Most recently she completed Challenge Almere along with youngest daughter Charlotte who took part in the Youth Challenge Almere.

“I want to be ready for Challenge Bahrain so hopefully I wont embarrass myself too much,” said Melanie.

The remainder of her race preparation for Challenge Bahrain is another Olympic distance in the UK, a half marathon in October and the Dubai International.

“Challenge Bahrain, with its amazing professional line up, great location and course, not to mention the fantastic hospitality and tourist opportunities awaits.  Both my daughter and I are excited to be a part of the event.

“A small spark from a man I admire and respect started a fire within me and ignited a way of life for my family.

“I thank the God daily for the way His Highness Sheikh Nasser and His Highness Sheikh Khaled and the team have helped me become someone I doubted I could ever become,” said Melanie.

Melanie says she may never be fast but hopes to keep improving, because excuses as valid as they may be don’t reap rewards.

By the time she reaches Bahrain without counting training kilometres she has swum 22km, biked 472km and ran 147km in just 7 months.

“I go to bed tired every night, I wake up tired every morning, I am on a journey, a road to Bahrain.”

“I hope by seeing me achieve my goals and always get personal bests that my children can see, you don’t have to be the best, but you always have to ‘try your best’.”


Posted in Athlete's Journey, Athlete's Journey » Inspiration, News Archive

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