Dubai: Scott Ragsdale, who has set himself the challenge of finishing seven Ironman Triathlon challenges across the UAE in a week, is confident he can achieve the feat.
Ragsdale, 40, has successfully completed the last day of his second test week in preparation for his naseba-seven challenge, set to kick off on November 28.
Ragsdale, chairman of the naseba group, remains confident about his ability to complete seven consecutive Ironman Triathlons.
His second 11-hour test wrapped up two months of training in the mountainous region of Tirol in Austria. Gulf News caught up with Ragsdale in Austria on day six of his test.
The week long test is the second of three.
"My body is holding up well during the testing, we've been doing the full Ironman swim distance, two-thirds of an Ironman bike and a 30-kilometre run," he said. "For what we are doing I'm happy with my condition."
Video: Dubai resident prepares to tackle ultimate endurance challenge
On the last day of his test, Ragsdale's coach, Mario Huys, who is a 48-time Ironman finisher, surprised Ragsdale with a full Ironman challenge.
However, during the test period, Ragsdale noticed significant improvement in his performance. On day six of the test he clocked his fastest bike timing to date by completing the 150-kilometre ride in just over four hours.
"Mario has been hammering me on the bike. Everyday when I get on the bike I'm scared of what Mario has in store for me," said Ragsdale.
"[But] it's good preparation because there are not many hills or mountains to climb in the emirates."
Ragsdale estimates he burns almost up to 10,000 calories a day during training and does not take in more than 5,000 calories, resulting in significant weight loss in recent months.
His training in Austria starts at 8am, when the chilly climate warms up to approximately 20 degrees Celsius.
However, Ragsdale, who confessed to having significant problems sleeping, wakes up at 5am. As the chairman of a business, he spends a couple of hours every morning working over breakfast.
What has now become his staple breakfast is a big bowl of oatmeal, a banana, three slices of rice crackers, with a dollop of Nutella, and a cup of coffee.
For dinner, which comes after 11 straight hours of training, Ragsdale, in one sitting, will polish off a large bowl of penne Arabiatta, a plate of Carpaccio and a Cordon Bleu.
"I think I eat healthy. I don't each much meat but do eat lots of pasta, beans and protein," he said. "I drink a lot of water too, all the time and during training, every single night I drink at least three litres before bed."
Ragsdale is determined to get in optimum physical form to successfully complete his challenge as failure is not an option; despite the physical pain that, for a lack of a better word, has now become his best friend.
"It is very challenging but by the time naseba-seven rolls around I will put myself in shape and I should be able to physically finish; so it will just be up to me mentally to be strong enough to keep going when it gets tough," he said.
"Doing my best and failing is not something I'm considering ... the pain is mental because if I start to think about the pain I will stay in bed; I don't think about it and just get on with it."
Vote of confidence
For all the nay-sayers who believe Ragsdale has undertaken an impossible task there are supporters to counter their opinions. One of these is 17-year-old junior triathlete Peter Leo.
"I've known some people who've finished the double Ironman distance but never heard of someone attempting what Scott is doing," said Leo.
"Scott's always looking for special challenges, he likes hard challenges, and I know he will be able to do it with his mental strength."
Leo doubles as Ragsdale's core trainer twice-a-week and is also coached by Huys.
Businessman Franz Sailer, 46, also a triathlete with 10 years of experience, has finished seven Ironman challenges in seven years.
"I really admire Scott for what he is doing because it took me seven years to do seven Ironmen; so what he is going to do requires severe physical and mental strength," said Sailer. "I hope from the bottom of my heart that Scott finishes the naseba-seven and makes it happen."
Second test week
- 4-kilometre swim
- 150-kilometre bike ride
- 30-kilometre run
- Swim completed: 1 hour
- Bike ride completed: 4.09 hours
- Run completed: 3.38 hours
On November 28, Scott Ragsdale will set off on a seven-day consecutive Ironman Triathlon, starting off in Fujairah and finishing at Abu Dhabi's Emirates Palace Hotel.
The Ironman Triathlon is organised by the World Triathlon Corporation and comprises a 3.86-kilometre swim, 180.25 kilometres of cycling and a 42.195-kilometre marathon. The challenge must be completed in that order without a break and has a time limit of 17 hours for completion. Scott Ragsdale aims to complete his naseba-seven challenge across each emirate in 14 hours or less.
To track Ragsdale's progress, log on to his blog at www.scottragsdale.com
Coach is confident
Coach Mario Huys is confident his protege Scott Ragsdale has what it takes to complete the naseba-seven challenge.
Huys, 52, is a 48-time Ironman finisher. Having studied sports science at university while serving as a military officer in the Belgian army, Huys believes physical coaching is complex and different for each individual.
"A coach has to know everything about the science of the human body and the effect each individual sport or activity has on it," he said. "For a coach to train a triathlete, he or she first needs to be one."
In Ragsdale's case, Huys believes the most important thing is for him is to learn how to live in harmony. "Scott is someone who is mentally strong but he just doesn't know his body has to be in harmony with his mind," said Huys.
In addition to coaching Ragsdale for the naseba-seven challenge; Huys has also coached him to the successful completion of two Ironman triathlon challenges in France and New Zealand as well as a swim across the English Channel.
Huy's philosophy is that life, including successful coaching for extreme challenges, is all about counting. "It's all about counting and controlling the heart beat, the nutrition and the amount of calories being burned in an hour as well as the speed," he said. "Scott's done very well during the two test weeks and so I'm confident he can do it and make the naseba-seven challenge happen."
Ragsdale's third and final test week will be in October.