There are few people in the sport of triathlon who carry the clout and respect Tim Don holds within the community and amongst his peers. It’s for good reason too – his contagious, emotion-filled style of racing and training oozes competitiveness and giving it 100 percent.
Despite facing one of the most horrific accidents in triathlon history, this 40-year-old professional triathlete has returned in stride and has no plans of stopping anytime soon.
“Consistency, communication and performance”
Throughout his career, Don’s motto of “consistency, communication and performance” and tireless work ethic has led him to the top ranks of the sport. His career unofficially began in London when he was 15 years old, when a local triathlon club invited him to race.
Fast forward five years and Don found himself standing on the top step of the junior’s podium at the 1998 Lausanne ITU Triathlon World Championship.
No surprise, he didn’t stop there.
He continued on to represent Great Britain in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games (the first time triathlon was offered), and his consistent finishes pushed him to the top ranks of the world rankings list.
Don finished his ITU career with world champion titles in duathlon (2002), aquathon (2005) and triathlon (2006), and he also competed in the Olympic Games in 2004 and 2008.
Unsurprisingly, Don progressed to the Ironman circuit, where his efficient running form and natural ability made him an instant success. He placed first in his Ironman debut at Ironman Mallorca (a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run), and has won several other 70.3 and 140.6 races to date. He notably finished on the podium at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in 2014 and 2017.
In 2017, Don set a new Ironman world record by posting a blistering fast 7:40:23 at Ironman Brazil. This wasn’t just a narrow margin of victory – he broke the record by four minutes.
The race of his life became a race for his life
Primed and ready for what would have likely been the race of his life at the 2017 Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, Don was hit by a car on the iconic Queen K highway and found himself in the ER with a broken neck.
Tim Don opted for a halo – a device that immobilized his neck by screwing directly into his skull.
What many figured would be the end of his career, Don underwent a painful (and highly public) recovery process when he opted for a halo. After three months in the brace, Don set his sights on a new goal: the Boston Marathon.
With only eight weeks of training (and just six months after his crash), Don crossed the finish line in 2:49:42. Ever since then, he’s been back to basics, realigning his passions for the sport with goals he has yet to achieve.
Most notably, getting back to Kona.
After an impressive win at Ironman 70.3 Costa Rica and a top-10 finish at Ironman Hamburg, a DNF (did not finish) at Ironman Copenhagen left Don short on points needed to qualify for the 2018 Ironman World Championship. But when Jonathan Shearon turned down his slot, Don was next man up.
The rest is history – just a year after his near-fatal crash on the Big Island, Tim Don returned to the 2018 Ironman World Championship and clocked an inspiring 08:45:17, enough for 49th in the men’s race and 53rd overall.
Don has already begun planning for his next triathlon season, which will undoubtedly include the 2019 Ironman World Championship.
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