Ready, set, go
A full Ironman triathlon is regarded as one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world. Combining a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and 26.2-mile marathon over a total distance of 140 miles, there are no breaks, no support crews and only 17 hours to finish. For Stephen Ridley, Lead Cyber Underwriter for Hiscox UK and Hiscox Ireland, the Ironman encapsulates what he enjoys most in life – a challenge.
Hitting his stride
‘I’m a really competitive person,’ says Stephen. ‘Just give me an opportunity to go head-to-head with somebody, even if that somebody is myself, and I’ll always be game.’
Ever since he was young, Stephen has loved to compete but it wasn’t until 2014 – the year he joined Hiscox – that he entered his first triathlon. He was hooked straight away, so the following year he set his sights on an even greater challenge: the Ironman in Vichy, France.
The race was eight times longer than his first triathlon – and started the morning after his 30th birthday. At a time when most people are nursing hangovers, Stephen was pushing his body to the absolute breaking point.
Vichy was brutal, with temperatures on the day hitting 36 degrees celcius, but Stephen made it. Barely. It wasn’t until he went to a restaurant shortly after the race that the fatigue really kicked in. ‘The waiter came over and I said to him, ‘just bring us… meat,’ he says, laughing. ‘I wasn’t in any shape to talk to anyone; I was totally knackered. But I was elated too. People call it “the runner’s high” and it’s kind of like that.’
Since then, Stephen’s got his hit in multiple triathlons all over the world, including events in the UK, Ireland, Australia, France, Spain, South Africa and Denmark, where he represented team GB in the 2017 European Championships.
‘It was amazing,’ remembers Stephen. ‘Wearing the GB colours; being part of a national team. It was a brilliant experience.’ He finished in four hours and 17 minutes – fast enough to win a bronze medal. ‘It was the pinnacle of what I’ve achieved in the sport,’ he says.
The front of the pack
Stephen trains up to 20 hours a week, waking up at around 5am every day. Between training and working, there’s little time for anything else. ‘I’m just trying to better myself,’ he says. ‘I want to improve myself; to push myself; to hit new milestones. I always want to be moving forwards.’
Stephen’s commitment to work is no different. Joining Hiscox as a Senior Development Underwriter, Stephen then climbed the ranks to Lead Cyber Underwriter for Hiscox UK and Ireland in 2017 and is one of the company’s leading experts in the field.
‘There are a lot of parallels between my sporting career and my professional career,’ he says. ‘I always strive to be the absolute best, to make Hiscox the absolute best. Getting us to the front of the pack – that’s really important to me.’
Crossing the finish line
Stephen is set to compete in the Ironman Frankfurt next year, alongside Ironman 70.3 Mallorca and the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Nice. In the longer term, he’s got his eyes on the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, which is the hardest race in the world for a triathlete to earn a spot in.
Kona is the culmination of a series of qualification races held throughout the world that will require Stephen to finish in the top three or four positions in his age group at an Ironman event in the same year. While your average fitness fantastic might be put off, for Stephen it’s the ultimate challenge.