GRANDAD Eric Blakie is heading to Hawaii to flex his muscles.
The 60-year-old, from South Bents, has clinched a place in the Ironman World Championships in October.
Eric will have to complete a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a marathon.
Three years ago Eric took part in the competition, but just before the event tore his calf during the Great North Run.
The dad-of-three said: “Determined to get that rare T-shirt and medal, I did the race, but had to basically shuffle along the run course and finished in 13 hours and 35 minutes.
“I then promised myself I would try to qualify again and be race fit this time. It has taken me a further eight Ironman races to qualify, which I did two weeks ago by winning my age group at Ironman UK in Bolton. That was my third Ironman race this year and my 33rd in total, my average time is about 11 to 12 hours.
“I have just returned from doing Ironman Boulder USA and have Ironman Copenhagen in two weeks. Hawaii will be my sixth ironman race this year, which is a bit extreme.”
Sunderland-born Eric, said: “It’s every athletes dream to get to the Olympics, but it’s every triathletes dream to get to Hawaii.”
An ex-rugby player, Eric took up triathlon 12 years ago and completed his first Ironman distance in Austria.
Ironman is now a huge organisation with more than 30 full distance Ironman races all over the world for people to take part in and hopefully qualify for the championship in Hawaii every October.
Eric said: “Every Ironman race has between 30 and 50 places allocated among the age groups. It is regarded as the Holy Grail of triathlon.”