THE winner of the Marlow Duathlon has already proved himself as a worthy competitor but now he faces the challenge of a gruelling Ironman triathlon in South Africa.

At a combined total of 24.2 miles, last weekend’s Duathlon was a warm-up for Wycombe born-Sam Blanshard who will have to swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles and run a marathon length 26.2 miles to finish the race of his life.

Mr Blanshard, 28, said: “This will be the biggest event I have ever competed in. In South Africa this will be the tenth year they have had an Ironman and it will hopefully be one of the biggest.

“A couple of years ago in Switzerland I did an Ironman, it was a big learning curve, I finished it but I was probably a long way away from where I could have been had I trained properly before it.

“Now I have this new benefit of experience, and I am putting in the right amount of training it will hopefully be better.

“Ideally I would like to go around sub-nine hours thirty – that would be a good time and I think I am capable of that.”

Born in High Wycombe, Mr Blanshard’s interest in sport grew from a young age, with his father a keen runner and footballer.

The Communications Manager, who now lives in Ruislip, said: “I have been competing to a certain degree since I was very young my father started to get me into triathlon. I was competing on and off since the age of eight or nine.”

Both his parents, his wife and step-daughter will all be coming out to Port Elizabeth with Sam to cheer him on.

Originally living in Ibstone, near High Wycombe, Mr Blanshard knows the area well. His parents now live in Marlow and when competing in the Duathlon he even passed the surrounding roads to his parent’s house.

Speaking of the Duathlon, Mr Blanshard said: “The race was really good, it was the perfect day for it, the course was great and the marshals were great too.”

He added: “If the weather is as good in South Africa as it was in Marlow then hopefully I will enjoy a good day."

Mr Blanshard will be competing in the Ironman alongside his group of friends that form the Black Line London group.

He said: “In all three of the Ironman disciplines you seem to follow a black line or marker all the way to the finish. We always try and have that desire to follow that black line through to the end.”