Looks can deceive – Moss Vale cafe owner, Ioannis Benardos is a little guy.
Ioannis, pronounced “Yarni,” is competing in an event this May at Port Macquarie not designed for the faint-hearted.
He will be one of 2,000 competitors in the Port Macquarie Iron Man spectacular.
The Southern Highlands sole representative contributes the Highlands air to his enthusiasm to tackle iron men twice his size.
For the uneducated the Iron Man is the most grueling individual event in world sport. It is an event that smacks of self-indulgence.
It is also an event that requires mammoth dedication.
The Iron Man event has three disciplines, the swim, the cycle and the run.
Now, take a deep breath and I’ll put some mileage to those disciplines.
The Iron Man begins with a 3.8k swim. Before you can give your budgies a shake, you hop on a bike for a 180k cycle over a myriad of terrain.
And to cap it off, you then test your stamina, and commonsense, by running 42.2ks—a recognized marathon.
So diet must play an integral role in your preparation.
“I eat what I like and when I like,” says Ionnis.
“I guess when you have a training regime like mine then you don’t need too many restrictions.”
Ionnis is the proprietor of the hugely popular Bernie’s Café in Moss Vale, serving a range of food that would tempt the most fastidious sportsman.
The waffles, the pancakes, the burghers, and luxury hot-dogs are as good as you’ll experience in the Highlands.
Prior to competing in Iron Man, Ionnis had little or no 1interest in sport.
“I did a bit of running, not much else but a friend talked me into having a crack at Iron Man and this will be my third having competed at Port in 2016 and Whistler in Canada last year,” he reflects.
“I work at Bernie’s between 80-90 hours a week and love the place. It is fashioned on American café lines.”
A week in the life of Ionnis is about as energy sapping as it gets.
Monday: a four kilometre (km) swim followed by a six km run.
Tuesday: One-hour bike ride.
Wednesday: A four km swim
Thursday: Long run, 15kms gradually building to 30kms as the event draws closer.
Friday: 65kms bike ride
Saturday: A 100kms bike ride as well as a 5km run.
Sunday: Tossing pancakes with wife Tracey and four-year-old son.
Finally, what is the magnet drawing this highly successful business owner to the ordeal of Iron Man competition?
“It’s the competitive nature that drives me,” he says.
Good luck at Port Macquarie, Ionnis.
Such enthusiasm and sacrifice deserves more than a box of chocolates.