"It is far better to dare mighty things … than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much," goes the famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt. But as five brave athletes discovered this weekend, it does not hurt to make things a little easier on yourself, especially when you are attempting to do the near impossible.
Attempting to join the "Sub-3 squared Marathon Club", the five signed up to swim at least 10km of the Cold Standard ocean swim on Saturday (without a wetsuit) and the 42km marathon run yesterday in under three hours - the sole, but stringent membership requirements of the elite club that has no members.
Chris Molnar, Alexandre Reinert and Henry Wright from Hong Kong, together with Chad Bishop from Singapore and Tobias Frenz from Malaysia, took on the challenge. Only Wright, 26, and Reinert, 32, came close.
Wright, a swim teacher, clocked two hours and 57 minutes on his GPS watch for 10 kilometres in the swim, but was five minutes over in the run. Reinert, a trader, just scraped in under three hours in the marathon (two hours, 59 minutes and 53 seconds) by his own timing, but was about 20 minutes over in the swim.
Wright's swimming efforts will not be recognised under the Sub 3 squared's requirements as he swam with a wetsuit to keep hypothermia at bay. "It makes about a five-minute-per-kilometre difference wearing a wetsuit," he said.
Admittedly, it did not have to be so hard. The challenge can be completed in flat, warmer and faster water. All the competitors completed the full 15 kilometres in the swim, tiring themselves for the run.
"But if you start something, you've got to finish it, right" said a determined Reinert.
"I thought, if it doesn't count in a wetsuit, I might as well do the whole thing," said Wright, who finished fourth overall in the Cold Half (15km) in 4:28:43, followed by Bishop in 4:57:50, Reinert in 4:58:41 and Frenz in 6:08:30. Molnar pulled out at the halfway point.
"But now I kind of wish I hadn't - the run was hard," said Wright.
Wright was on target during the run until 25 kilometres when his knee, shoulder and ankle began to hurt. "My ankle just exploded. I was limping at the finish," he said.
"It was tough, it's like an endless highway - you keep thinking you'll hit the [Western Harbour] Tunnel and be close to the finish, but you don't."
Reinert said: "It's really hilly, particularly coming out of the [Western] tunnel."
Undeterred, Reinert will attempt to crack the three-hour mark in the Clean Half in the summer and Wright is in a search of his next marathon.
"No one's ever done it, so we'd be the first people to do it," said Wright.