Meet Randa Al Mahdy: Egypt’s 2018 Iron’W’oman

Tuesday October 16, 2018                               By: Alexandra Kinias

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On October 7, Randa Al Mahdy completed the Ironman Barcelona 2018. Ironman competitions includes 3.8 km of Swimming, 180 km cycling and 42 km marathon. She  had discovered her passion for endurance sports less than two years ago. And it took her one year to train for the competition.  Al Mahdy was the only Egyptian woman who competed this year. She completed it in 13:01:48 hrs.

WOE: How did you first become interested in athletics? What was the spark that inspired you to become an Ironman?
RA: During a new year diving trip in January 2017 a friend challenged me to finish a half marathon race in Gouna. Until then, I hadn’t played any sports. I didn’t even know how many km are in the half marathon race. After I completed the half marathon in Gouna, I joined Maadi Athletes Team, which is a triathlon team dedicated to encourage people with various athletic abilities to participate in the sport. I was inspired when eight of the team completed The Ironman race in October 2017 and this encouraged me to register for the 2018 race, even though my capabilities at that time were very far from making this possible. A lot of people were surprised by my decision. They thought I was insane and were sure that I will not do it.

Image-5WOE: Do you feel that there is a particular personality that is drawn to the Ironman Triathlon? If so, how does your personality fit that mold?
RA: The person who is drawn to Ironman triathlon should be determined and have stamina and a competitive personality.  She is happy to take challenges that seem impossible, but with hard work she can make it happen. I always liked to dream big dreams

ًWOE: Once you knew what your dream is, what gave you the courage to go after it? How long did it take you to actualize it?

RA: I always knew that if I put a goal in front of me, I do whatever it takes to reach it. It only took me a day to take the decision to register

WOE: Which is the more difficult aspect of preparing for the competition, the physical or the mental? Or are they equal in difficulty?
RA: Both are equal in difficulty

WOE: Which part of a triathlon is your strongest? Your weakest? Why?
RA: The three parts are equal for me, and when I started, I was weak in all three.

WOE: Preparation is obviously the key to success. What’s typical schedule of a week’s training for you?
RA: During the non-peak period, the typical weeks’ training is about 12 hours of weekly training, split into 1 or 2 sessions per day, and almost equally split between the 3 disciplines. During the peak period, the training hours could reach up to 18 hours per week.

WOE: What was the greatest challenge you faced training for the Ironman? What kept you motivated?
RA: The biggest challenge was to remain committed and focused on training for almost one year, despite all the ups and downs of life, especially that I am a single mom of 3 kids. What kept me motivated was my insistence to make my dream come true and to prove to myself I can do it

Image-3WOE: How do you fit training into raising a family, a career, social life, etc.? How did you manage your time? Did you have to give up a regular life to train for Ironman?
RA: I am a single mom of 3 kids and I had to manage the demanding training schedule into my family life. My family and kids were very understanding and supportive

WOE: Give us a bit of insight on what was going on in your mind during the competition and how did you keep yourself going?
RA: I was thinking that I am getting closer to realizing my dream and this kept me going. I was also having a great time during my competition and I enjoyed every minute of it. My friends who traveled all the way to Barcelona to support me were also my great motivators to keep going.

WOE: What’s your advice for someone just starting an endurance sport?
RA: Surround yourself with others who also like endurance sports, and you will become a huge source of encouragement for each other. And even if you are new to endurance sports, start by taking small steps and put a plan that is right for you, and you will be amazed by the results you will achieve

WOE: If you were to do it all over again, would you do anything differently?
RA: No, I would not do anything differently but I plan on continue to train hard to do better next time

WOE: What did your Ironman experience teach you?
RA: You have to have a goal and a plan. You will more likely achieve your goals if you have a plan that is right for you. Once you figure out your plan, stick to it and give it your 100%.

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WOE: Were you the only Egyptian athlete competing in the triathlon?
RA: I was the only Egyptian woman. There were 3 other Egyptian men also competing.

WOE: What was it like crossings the finish line?
RA: It was an incredible feeling and a huge relief.

WOE: What’s next for you in life?
RA: Triathlon is something that I really enjoy and something that has changed my life. I plan to make triathlon a very important part of my life.

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