Despite this current time of fantastic digital innovations and amazingly intelligent machinery in our plants and facilities, we are not about to promote a new iron robot or a hi-tech superhero.
Ironman is actually an organization that presents sporting events and since 1978 has promoted a series of races in different parts of the world, which involve thousands of athletes of all nationalities, and which on average attract almost 700,000 spectators. There is also a World Championship Ironman event, always held on the Hawaiian island of Kona. The principal characteristic of every Ironman event is a triathlon – a multidisciplinary individual or team competition involving male and female Olympic disciplines – consisting of three different race-phases to be completed immediately one after the other.
Ironman is the most challenging individual triathlon level. That’s to say, considering the three kinds of race category (measured by the distances involved in each of the three disciplines), this is the longest and most exhausting level of all. It begins with a 3.8 km swimming-leg in a lake, followed by a 180 km bicycle-leg involving numerous climbs and descents, and concluding with a refreshing 42 km marathon run on the flat.
Curiosity, the wish to have a go, or at least to know what it feels like to complete an ultimate athletic challenge of that nature… all this irresistibly attracted Antonio Marchesano, Avio Aero Marine & Industrial Operations Leader.
“At the age of 13 I began with boat racing, and won two silver medals at the Italian Junior Championships. Then an untreated back-ache obliged me to concentrate on swimming… and that was when I became acquainted with the triathlon. It was love at first sight.” Antonio comes from Salerno and has been working in GE for the last 14 years.
He competed in his first triathlon in 1996, and found it incredibly tiring, but maybe it was that sensation and his competitive instinct which made him fall in love with it. And competitiveness still evidently stimulates him… “I don’t know exactly how many Italians competed in the race, but I know there were 5 from the Irno Boating Club in Salerno and 4 ex-teammates from the Florence Triathlon… and I beat them all!”
This year, at the beginning of July, Antonio took part in the European Ironman Championships in Frankfurt, supported by his faithful fans: his wife Ester – also an Avio Aero colleague working in Brindisi – and their small daughter Greta. In order to face this challenge, Antonio went through 6 months of intensive training, often before and then again after his working day, as many of his colleagues well know.
Comparison between extreme sport challenges, on the one hand, and the classic dynamics of stress or time of intense work on the other, can highlight lessons that are applicable in both the contexts: “Sport is fundamental for my work-life balance: it’s an amazing stress-out. Plus, for someone like me who has frequently changed cities for my job, it has given me a great opportunity to make new friendships and get to know amazing places. I tried to stay away from it for 6 years, but I became a worse person at work and generally in my everyday life.”
Mental equilibrium, effort and persistence. Things for which one works out for a long time and with many sacrifices… “now I’ll take a rest for a while, after which, in September, I’ll go back and compete in shorter triathlons. And I’m already programing an attempt to qualify to compete in the Half-Ironman World Championships next year (something I already did in 2015). I’ll never be able to thank Ester enough for her support in these adventures: she has been and will continue to be a fantastic travel companion.”
A big thanks to Ester also from the entire team and all the colleagues who will benefit from Antonio’s wellness!