They say your wedding is the biggest week of your life, for Cronulla triathlete Michael Fox this is definitely true.
Last weekend Fox was in Hawaii lining up for his first crack in the Pro-division of the iconic Hawaiian Ironman – the Holy Grail of triathlons in the world.
This weekend he will be standing at the altar back home marrying his fiance Ciaran Williams after a hit out on the world's biggest stage.
Setting the date six months ago wasn't easy, but after a slow start in the West Australian Busselton Ironman the first of the Ironman qualifiers, Fox thought his ship had sailed for this year and committed to the wedding date.
The top 50 triathletes in the world automatically qualify for Hawaii and his next result, a sixth place at the Cairns Asia Pacific Ironman, started to make him nervous.
The Ironman Australia at Port Macquarie was his last chance and when he crossed the finish line in fourth spot the fact that he had qualified for Hawaii the reality kicked in.
The Cronulla Tri Club, of which which Michael is a member, has been well represented on the winner's podium in Hawaii over the years.
Greg Welch, Michellie Jones, Chris McCormack and Craig Alexander, who has won it three times and holds the course record, are all Cronulla members who have been crowned world champions in Hawaii.
Fox knew his name wouldn't be on the trophy this year but is glad he pushed on and will be better for the experience.
“It was brutal out there and I ended up finishing 33rd ” Fox said
“Ironman is a sport that doesn't age discriminate and I was the third youngest competitor, and realistically with my strong swim leg and a good start I hoped to finish in the top 20.”
The inaugural Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon was launched in 1978 as a way to challenge athletes who had seen success at endurance swim, cycling, and running events.
On October 14, more than 2000 athletes embarked on a 140.6-mile journey that presents the ultimate test of body, mind and spirit to earn the title of Ironman.
Ciaran, Fox’s wife to be, stayed at home and finished the wedding plans before flying over to cheer her fiance home – and then hopefully get him home in one piece for the biggest day of their lives.
Competing in triathlon for nine years Fox almost gave the sport away unable to balance his career as a teacher at Port Hacking High School and his chosen sport.
A talk to Craig Alexander changed this when he introduced him to coach Matt Koorey from Manly who helped him attain a work, training balance and set him back on track to where he thought he never would be.
“Matt gave me some self belief, and set realistic goals that were reachable and now I'm competing against the top 50 in the world,” Fox said before flying over to acclimatise to the oppressive conditions on the lava fields of Kona.
Temperatures on race day ranged from 28 to 35 degrees, with the humidity hovering around 90 percent. Crosswinds on portions of the bike course sometimes get as high as 60 mph.
“I just didn't have it on the bike,I couldn't find the power I expected.Bit disappointing in terms of my execution and I will be better off for the experience” Fox said after the race.
Hawaii was no honeymoon for Michael and Ciaran where there were emergency water restrictions.
That experience will have to wait another week now the race has been run and won and they have another big day ahead.