Interviews

The Inspiring Story of IRONDAD Alfred Cheong and His IRONMAN Family

by On Oct 1, 2019

When you got to travel places around the world with your family, why not join a race event together?

The Inspiring Story of IRONDAD Alfred Chong and His IRONMAN Family

Competing in an IRONMAN event requires discipline, determination and commitment. It's not an easy task for participants that join IRONMAN event. Participants will have to go through a 3.8 km swim, 180 km bike and 42.195 km run. It is a challenging and tough race for the participants as it test their mental and physical abilities.

But have you heard of a family of IRONMAN? The incredible story of IRONMAN participants Alfred Cheong and his family caught our eyes and we decided to dive deeper to find out more.

It all started when Alfred read the articles from IRONMAN in 2017, he then visited Yee Sze Mun's home, who is the oldest IRONMAN at age 82. Yee shown all his medals to Alfred and from that moment, Alfred felt inspired and made up his mind to take on IRONMAN.

From there, Alfred's journey begun. Alfred went to compete in an IRONMAN event - an endurance sport which has slowly become a global phenomenon, he knew it would be a life-changing one. Little did he know, he would be turning his family of five in a group of triathlon disciples. At 55, Alfred puts many of his contemporaries to shame with his slender and toned physique. Despite starting his IRONMAN journey in his early 50s, he went straight for the full distance IRONMAN at his very first IRONMAN event.

Alfred was introduced to Karen Siah who was his first coach. She encourage him to go for the IRONMAN 70.3, but age was catching up and Alfred feared that he will be missing out as he knew Uncle Yee did his first IRONMAN at 58, so he signed up for the full event. To kick-start his training, Alfred joined the Olympic Distance event and signed up for the Penang Cross Channel swim.

This year, Alfred will be accompanying his wife, Christine Loh, 52, and their two eldest children, Joanne and Samuel Cheong on their maiden attempt of the IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi. They will take on the challenge to swim 1.9 km along the beaches of Pantai Kok, bike 90 km on the hilly terrains of Langkawi Island, and finish off with a 21.1 km run towards Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort and Spa.

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The Inspiring Story of IRONDAD Alfred Chong and His IRONMAN Family

Because of Alfred's dedication, he inspired his whole family to take part in their first IRONMAN 70.3 event in Langkawi this October. Now Christine is not only Alfred’s biggest supporter, she has also developed a passion for triathlon herself.

To encourage his kids to complete an event in Phuket, Alfred purposely ran behind his daughter to ensure she finished the race. Joanne, seeing dad embark on this IRONMAN journey was a motivation for the 27-year-old to join in the family adventure.

Samuel Cheong, 24, starting out on this challenging routine was a chore at first, but the middle child in the family was too inspired by dad, he has already undergone a warm-up test for IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi, endearingly known as the Torture Camp amongst the triathletes of the RC Coaching Team. It is actually an IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi simulation which gives the participants the chance to experience the course. Samuel found the hilly terrain nicknamed the Three Sisters and Mother in Law pretty tough, but after training on-site, he found that Langkawi isn’t so scary anymore.

The Cheong family has another triathlete son, Bryan Cheong, 17, who completes this IRONMAN family. With everyone except Bryan (underage) preparing for IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi, almost all their conversations have been triathlon related.

Of course, prepping for the half distance IRONMAN event is no laughing matter. Alfred and his family, each have individual training regime, mainly comprising of a six-day week training plan. This includes 12-14 hours per week of training, with weekday training taking up to two hours and weekends around five hours of running, cycling and swimming.

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As for healthy eating part, diet is important because they want their body to prep up for their upcoming IRONMAN. Alfred believes that he and his family got closer than before. It also builds their family characters, and helps them to cultivate a stronger mind. Most importantly, Alfred and his family felt great after exercising.

The Real Ironman Family Show You How They Conquer IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi

From L – R : Samuel Cheong (24), Joanne Cheong (27),
Alfred Cheong (55), Christine Loh (52), Bryan Cheong (17)

We speak to Alfred to find out what motivates Alfred and his family to compete IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi together.

RS: Why Yee Sze Mun’s story and medals inspired you to go for IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi? What motivates you to do so?

Alfred: YSM told me he started his for Ironman at his age of 58. At that time, I was 52 years old. A thought went through my mind "Why can’t this has also been for me?". So, I completed my first IRONMAN one year later in 53. The story and medal is the motivation to encourage us to do something that we love. It has the sense of satisfaction and confidence to continuously challenge ourselves.

RS: Besides running for a healthy lifestyle, what is the purpose for the whole family to compete in IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi?

Alfred: Family bonding. Usually, our family travel local and oversea together yearly. These past three years, we travelled the destination to associate with my race event. So I thought "Why don’t they join together instead?" At the same, we can enjoy the race before or after our traveling trip. We also can lead a healthy lifestyle too. Besides, it would be a great experience/memory to join Ironman/run all over the world with my family.

RS: Do your family and you encounter any challenges during preparation for IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi and during the race? If do so, how do you all overcome it?

Alfred: Balancing between work, career development, study and training, it was a challenging one. Especially for me, it is no easy at all. It is tough when I frequent go, for business trip. Our advantage is that we are more flexible to adjust and manage our time. Besides, we also have home training equipment such as treadmill and bike trainer. It definitely makes us to plan ahead and efficient in many ways.

The Real Ironman Family Show You How They Conquer IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi

The family training room

RS: Not many families compete an event like IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi together. How will you encourage other families to join any race/marathon/triathlon together?

Alfred: I always glad to share my Ironman journey with my friends and relatives. I hope in some ways I can inspire them. Also, I told them my story about my family join in 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi as well. If their kids are willing to join them for any race/marathon/triathlon, the process will help them to build a stronger mind and body. Also, it will lead to build a good personal character, hence great family culture.

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RS: If other families plan to do it together, what is the advice you could give them?

Alfred: Do not force instead, influence them positively and let have the freedom to involve themselves. Continue to be disciplined, committed, have improvement progress in our training, be a role model to others. Once they have started, encourage and motivate them not to give up. Ironman takes time and patience to train up, it is an endurance journey. Once a person can get through this process and build a never-give-up personality, other challenges will be relatively easier, so why not?

Alfred’s family has already made an impression even before IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi, and competing as a family will only make their bond stronger.

After reading Alfred's motivational story, are you ready to participate in any upcoming races together with your family?

Samantha is an editor at RunSociety. A digital expert with a focus on the research and development of thought provoking and resourceful content, Samantha love Yoga and incorporate running in her weekly workout whenever she can.

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