Meet The ‘Iron Men’ of Downham: Laurence and Ciaran O’Grady

The fearless pair took on the Half Iron Man challenge to raise cash for the Magpie Centre, of which their mother, Rosie O’Grady, is our very own chair.

Laurence, 32, and Ciaran, 31, grew up in West Dereham and attended Downham High School, although both now live in London, running their own fire and flood restoration business, called Tempest.

Seeking a challenge to raise cash for charity, they rejected a standard triathlon as, according to Ciaran: “It wasn’t scary enough,” so opted for the Half Iron Man, also known as Iron Man 70.3, so called because it covers 70.3 miles. The swim is 1.2 miles, cycle ride 56 miles and the run 13.1 miles. Finishing times range from sub-4 hours, achieved by elite athletes, to the cut-off qualification time of 8hrs 30 minutes.

From left to right Ciaran O’Grady, Elaine Davies -Instructor/Yard Assistant. Ainsley Calvert RDA rider on Ruby, Rosie O’Grady Chairperson, Magpie Centre. Laurence O'Grady

From left to right Ciaran O’Grady, Elaine Davies -Instructor/Yard Assistant. Ainsley Calvert RDA rider on Ruby, Rosie O’Grady Chairperson, Magpie Centre. Laurence O’Grady

Their venue was Cholmondeley Castle, Cheshire, one of the ‘Castle’ Iron Man series, and last June Laurence and Ciaran turned up with high hopes, and, on Ciaran’s own admission, “not nearly enough training.”

He explained: ”It was really hard to fit in the training time, as we work long hours in the business, plus I have two children under five.”

“We both play football once a week, and did a couple of swims and a cycle ride as well, but it wasn’t enough. We finished in 7 hrs 15 mins, and the onlookers were quite concerned, as they didn’t think we were going to make it.”

“The end of the race was overwhelmingly emotional: we didn’t know whether to laugh or cry,” he added.

The huge sponsorship total was netted by drumming up support from family, friends and business clients. Said Ciaran: ”We said that for every £1 donated, we’d match it with 50p from Tempest, and that proved a really good incentive. We’d both like to give huge thanks to everyone who supported us, as they’ve been fantastically generous, and we are truly grateful.

The purpose of the cash is to help purchase a horsebox for the Magpie Centre, so they can transport horses and ponies to give pony rides, attend veterinary appointments or Riding for the Disabled competitions.

And for the future: are Laurence and Ciaran aiming to move up to the full Ironman challenge of 140.6 miles? Ciaran wasn’t too sure:” We did consider it,” he said, “but we really would have to train seriously to get through that. I’m getting married next week and my wife-to-be will divorce me before I even get that far if I commit to another training programme at this point.


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