This month we have the honour to interview the legendary Ken Poole. To say that this man has a talent for our sport is a massive understatement. One look at his life and sporting career is enough to motivate anyone who has ever considered becoming an athlete. His list of achievements are too big to mention here, but to give you an idea….. He ran his first Comrades at 39 and returned the following year to run his first silver medal in an incredible time of 7:13.
Ken has been running for 42 years, taking part in too many marathons to mention, with a marathon PB of 2H42. He has completed a 100 miler and even won Ultra Trail events like Mont Aux Sources (3 wins) and Rhodes (2 wins). He has done an impressive 21 Comrades Marathons and got Silver medals for 9 of them.
Looking for something different, Ken began cycling and canoeing, participating in 4 Duzi’s and completing 12 Canoe SA IRONMAN triathlons. Forever tackling new challenges he started swimming to compete in swim triathlons, and compete he did! To date Ken has completed 23 IRONMAN races with 21 podium finishes. 18 were full IRONMAN 140.6 races with 15 podiums; he has been to Kona in Hawaii for the IRONMAN world championships 3 times and podium-ed 5th in 2012, something us mere mortals can only dream of. He has done 6 half distance 70.3 races, of which he achieved podium finishes in each. Ken’s achievements does not stop at swimming, cycling, and running, he has also completed over 1000 free fall parachute jumps! Licence no. D101.
Ken and Rob

Ken and Robbie, his friend and training partner.

Now at 76, Ken is an inspiration to athletes young and old, proving there is no limit to what you can achieve when you put your heart and soul into something. Ken’s highlight to date was his race in IRONMAN Western Australia in Busselton where he not only won in his age group, he also broke the age group record by 30 minutes. 2015 has been another highlight. After winning at East London, Port Elizabeth and Cairns Australia, Ken reached top status ranking as world number 1 in his age group.
Ken is far from finished, his favorite quote is “I want to die young when I get old.”  and we will be watching him closely….with a history like that, he is bound to break many more records to come. Ken is reinventing the image of the IRONMAN athlete, and proving that some things certainly improve with age!
Well done Ken, we are humbled by your presence and it’s an absolute honour for us to have this interview with you. You are our JDES #epic person for November 2018. Thank you for participating and keep on inspiring all of us, you are a legend!




Did you do sport in your twenties and if so what did you do?
Growing up in Welkom in the early gold rush days there was not much to do other than sport. I swam(not very good), played tennis and hockey. playing Free State Country Districts for a few years.


When did you get into triathlons, and when was your first race? 
During the early’80’s Leppin pharmaceuticals sponsored the local Íronman’ which was 23k canoe paddle, 120k bike and 42k run,starting in Hartebeespoort dam and finishing in Johannesburg. Looking for something different to just running I taught myself to paddle at Wemmer Pan and did my first race in 1986. I continued to do this race until the swim Tri’s took over in popularity. I basically had to learn to swim properly and race my first swim Tri in 1996 at the Durban Ultra. this was also my first sea swim which was horrific, but from then on I was hooked.


What is it about triathlons that you love so much? 
I loved the cross training and that forced me to do gym as well to strengthen up. But then over the years and racing in different countries, I have made such wonderful friends and keep in contact with them to this day.


What are your best and worse race moments? 
My best moment was in 2013 at the World championships. I won the world championship for my age group in the Aquathon (swim, run) and the world championship in the Olympic Distance Triathlon. My worst moment was at Ironman Cairns Australia 2015, where I won my age group by more than an Hour. Only to find at the prize giving evening that I had been disqualified as I did not complete the full run route! I was accused of cheating by the Aussie refs. I lodged an appeal but to cut a long story short, had it not been for Strava I proved to them that I had not cheated and that the GPS proved that I ran the full route. Again they said that I only ran 41.1ks so I told them to prove to me that their route was 42.2k accurate. They could not so eventually I was awarded 2nd place and they sent me the trophy.


Do you have a morning ritual or other rituals that keeps your mind and body strong, fit and young? 
I am not superstitious nor do I have any specific rituals when waking up or before any race.I have been running more that 45years and love what I do. I love the outdoors and know the need to keep fit and healthy so it has become a way of life and not a ritual.


What age do you feel right now and why?
At this point in time I don’t feel my 76 years but close to it! 2 years ago I had my 2nd neck fusion with a plate for extra support due to skydiving. I’ve completed over 1000 free fall jumps. While training for IM PE I was involved in a hit and run while out on a long training ride with Rob. This has set me back to before the operation with pain 24/7! But I don’t give up easily so continue to do what I love and that is triathlon.


What inspires you? 
I am not very philosophical but I believe my life has been mapped out and what will be will be. However I draw inspiration from life around me in general which includes my friends and family.


If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why?
That is a big ask! The world today is not what is was a 100 years ago but that’s progress but I think my message would be ‘Live your life to best of your ability be yourself and don’t be influenced by others that mean nothing to you. Too many people live in a fantasy world, life is hard grab it and do the best you can in your circumstances.


Do you think aliens exist?
NO! without hesitation.


What is your favorite food?
I have a sweet tooth, so most things sweet, Chocolate first!


What animal would be cutest if scaled down to the size of a cat?
I am an animal lover so I would rather let all animals be what they are.


Which book/s have made the biggest impact on you? 
In my younger days I did read a lot and read the early biography of Richard Attenborough which I thought was wonderful. But now-days I relax with some TV.


What is one dream you have yet to accomplish? 
As I said earlier, my life has been mapped out, so what will be will be. What I have achieved is my satisfaction and do not expect much more but ‘when I die I want to die young’