After months of perparation Iron Century is live

Iron Century is live! John Mergler and Debi Hazelden have conquered the first week of their world record-breaking feat in which they’ll complete 100 half- and full-Ironman distance races in 100 days. Taking place in City of Sydney pools and Centennial Park, the physical challenge is just one part of this feat, as the duo are committed to raising $100,000 for the Australian Red Cross. This week, Debi tells us how to cope with a major setback, and why it takes a whole support crew to make race days successful.


After months of preparation we were thrown a few curveballs throughout the week. Day one and Centennial Park, the place where we were going to complete our cycle and run, was a no-go as a huge music festival was on. We knew the festival was coming up, but thought only part of the main loop in the Park that was out of use, and we’d do a larger hill loop that adds aOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAround 40m of cumulative vertical climb to each lap. The ‘flat’ laps in Centennial undulate very gently – you ascend and descend approximately 14m according to Strava ­– so hills, as easy as they are, would’ve made it tougher. But then we found out that Grand Drive, the road that John spends 60 laps on every day, was going to be shut.

But, we prepared, so it wasn’t a disaster. Kurnell, a beachside suburb in Sydney’s south, is a back-up option. It’s a well-known spot for cyclists who want to go for a good spin, and it’s also home to a sprint tri series. The area’s pretty flat, offers a 14km – 20km loop for the cycle, and a 6km loop for running. It’s fast, but often gets hot. Our cycle peaked at 32 degrees, there’s not much shade, and there aren’t any water bubblers for us to use – plus we had to drive an extra 30 minutes each way to get there which made the evening tricky.

A huge part of what’s going to make Iron Century successful – other than blasting through the fund-raising target of course! – is having our routes familiar and controlled. So even though day one didn’t go entirely to plan we had our headspace sorted. Thankfully, my mum and dad have flown into Sydney from New Zealand to help man the Let’s Go motorhome, which is our base when we’re racing, so I could grab a drink and food in one reliable, safe spot. My plan to have four bottles during the ride a combination of SIS recovery and water – is working out perfectly. On day three of consecutive 70.3 races my muscles felt great, but my mind felt tired from lack of sleep – who really knows when the dreaded muscle and mental fatigue will kick in.


What keeps my spirit up is having people to cycle and run with me, and I was lucky to have people there at the right time during the hot run. A mate ran the first 7km, and another came for the last 4km. I needed it too – by the end of my day I was exhausted as it was so hot, and having that support is a much needed boost, plus it helps me hold my pace. The whole day we had people dropping in and out, including one friend who did 21km with John, and another who joined him for 7km at sub 5 minute kays. While we’re used to doing these huge distances, just having someone there, even if we don’t talk, is cool. Everyone is welcome to join us, and if you want to swim, cycle or run with us, do so!

Recovery’s proving to be ultra important, but like training and racing you have to make time for it, and that’s been a major challenge. While we’re doing Iron Century we’ll get a nightly massage with a group called Health Space, and we had to bend time to make our appointment fit in with day one’s wrinkle. They offer massages in their clinic so we had to be there for them, and it wasn’t going to happen as we we were an hour behind schedule. So, they did us a massive favour and sent a therapist to our house. I was booked to be on the table at 7pm, and John for 7.30pm. However I was looking at the Quarq Qollector, our live tracker, and I could see he still had a few more kays to go and figured he’d be back at 8pm. I ended up booking Health Space for another 30 minutes and got my mum on there, John came in for 8pm and got his. And then my dad was jealous ‘cause he missed out. Sorry dad!

IMG_8875-2 copyDay five turned really sour as we were fighting logistics and our own fatigue, and mentally trying to stay strong. It’s comically bad how it started – we couldn’t find a parking spot for the van, which delayed our swim by 20 minutes. Then someone stole John’s phone and wallet, and my bank card was inside.The thief managed to spend $500 before I managed to cancel it. While my pacing’s been consistent and I’ve finished at a reasonable time to get ready for the next day, John was suffering from DOMS. After losing precious time because of the mess with the parking and stolen wallet, he didn’t start his run until 4.30pm and wasn’t home til 10pm. No recovery massage that night.

However, we’re extremely fortunate to have Foodora supplying our dinners – not having to cook at the end of a big day is the best, and means I can spend the evening uploading photos and videos, doing all the admin, and getting Ryder, our seven-month-old baby boy off to sleep.

All this is working well – our fundraising total has hit $11,000 and it’s climbing. Even when things go wrong, the Red Cross is in our mind, and we’re definitely going to go the distance.


Debi and John encourage anyone who is racing at Ironman Australia or Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie to take part in Iron Century and raise funds for the Red Cross on their road to Ironman Australia 2017. Visit and join them in the pools, or on the bike or run — or all three! At time of going online, the group had collectively raised $11,000, and would like to thank their sponsors: Foodora, SCODY, Science In Sport, Ribble Cycles, Hoka One One, Roka, Suunto, Health Space Clinics, Cycliq, ActIV Infusions, Lake Cycling, POC Sports, Thule, Quarq, Chobani, Prince Alfred Park pool, and Kustom Caps.

To sponsor Iron Century on the road to Ironman Australia 2017 – or to set up your own fund-raising page as part of Iron Century – head to

For more information and real-time tracking of Iron Century go to: or the Facebook page or follow us on Instagram

Text: Paul Taylor/Iron Century

Images: Iron Century


Margaret Mielczarek

Margaret Mielczarek is the deputy editor at Australian Triathlete Magazine and writes the web series 'Shenanigans of a Deputy 2.0'. She is a passionate age-group triathlete and four-time Ironman finisher - currently in training for Ironman number five!

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