Two old pals, who haven’t seen each other for 25 years, are about to embark on a challenge that would test the limits of any friendship.
Tony Byrne and Darren Lovett are currently in training to take part in one of the world’s biggest triathlon-weekends, the Ironman challenge in Zurich, Switzerland, which is set to attract more than 6,000 athletes from all around the world.
Tony, 40, from Ribbleton, said: “We hadn’t seen each other since we were at English Martyrs Primary School together.
“One day I got talking to Darren’s brother who was working on a site with me and he happened to mention that his brother was getting involved in the training but then we just left it at that.”
In a serendipitous turn of events, Darren, a joiner from Lea, and Tony later bumped into each other at a set of traffic lights on Blackpool Road, Preston.
Electrician Tony said: “Darren beeped at me and asked me what I was up to and we just got chatting again, it was a really strange turn of events – almost like it was meant to happen.”
The keen runners are no stranger to tests of endurance.
Tony took up running three years ago and has competed in both the Guild and London Marathons. While Darren has had a taste of the Ironman challenge when he took part in a half Ironman tournament.
Tony said: “It was while he was doing the half challenge that he wondered what it would be like to complete the full challenge so we signed up to it in September last year.”
Since then the pair have been training six days a week for the course which includes cycling and running through the city.
“But it is the swim that takes place in the crystal clear water of Lake Zurich that Darren is most apprehensive about.
He said: “I couldn’t really swim before I started the training – I could get to the end of the pool but I was a bit scared of the water.
“But I’ve been training with an open water swimmer who is confident he’ll get me over my anxiety.”
Tony added: “It’s strange how our lives have turned out.
“We’re both married with three daughters, we’re both turning 40 before we take on the Ironman and our careers have taken us in a similar direction.”