IronMan UK 2017 was the 13th edition and the 9th time held in Bolton and my first!
We were staying about 2km from Pennington Flash, which was the swim venue.
The race had split transitions, which did prove a bit of a logistic challenge.
T1 – Pennington Flash swim and bike out.
T2 – Macron Stadium (Bolton Wanderers) bike in and run out.
Finish – Bolton town centre.
After a weeks taper and some quality carbo loading, race day starts with an alarm at 02.45.
Eating three hours before racing is necessary to ensure your body fuel (glycogen) is fully topped up and that the body has digested breakfast.
Breakfast, consisted of Oomphf porridge, SiS energy bar, Saltstick, banana and green tea, can’t say I enjoyed forcing it down at that time in the morning.
Back to bed, for an hour to rest and digest.
Second alarm at 04.00, look outside and it had been raining heavily overnight.
Walked in the dark to swim start, muggy and quite warm, met with a growing scrum of athletes and their supporters.
After putting my nutrition onto my bike, on goes the wetsuit, time is going quickly.
Into the swim start pen, place myself in the predicted self seeding zone 1h 15min.
National anthem, pro’s are off, last goodbyes and onto the start ramp.
Rolling start, no going back, looking out onto the lake, I can hardly see the far buoy, weather is very gloomy.
Into the water, temperature around 18 degrees, lovely and we’re off.
Swim was two laps, with a 50m Aussie exit between laps.
Quite happy with my swim, felt relaxed, focus on technique, efficiency and saving energy.
Out of the water at 1hr 20min and into T1 to change into my cycle kit.
Full change, deciding on comfort over speed in T1, onto the bike and it’s started to rain!
Out onto the 180 km course, it was about a 20km cycle to reach the West Pennine Moor loops.
Road conditions are pretty treacherous, fine drizzle and steamed up glasses, making vision a challenge.
Some testosterone fuelled riders spilling onto the road, trying to hard too quickly.
Arriving at Adlington, the start of our two loops and three times through the village.
Heading up towards the first climb and legendary Sheep House Lane, shrouded in cloud and very damp.
This was around 09.00 and already the crazy gang were in position, three guys dressed as Mexican wrestlers and a huge pa, pumping music and shouting “You are awesome”!
It’s good to smile, take the encouragement, gain some strength.
Over the top, the poor weather lasted for another hour or so, before beginning to clear, roads drying out and speeds increasing.
The second climb is towards the end of the loop Hunters Hill, crowds congregating up the climb, shouting and bells and pushing the riders Tour de France style, great stuff.
First loop completed, over half distance. Sun is now out and the local people have come out to play, villages were packed such a great atmosphere for the athletes.
Second cycle loop, went pretty quickly and I was soon turning for the home run into T2 at Bolton Wanderers Macron Stadium.
Quick change into my running gear, out of transition for the 10km run towards Bolton Town and the three and a half laps.
1km out, up a a short climb, cramp! my right quad seizes completely. I hobble to the top, trying to massage something into my leg which feels like wood.
Cramp subsides and I can start to run, feeling okay, phew!
About 10km later reach another hill just before the laps, it happens again. “Are you alright lad?” says a chap with a pint of lager, the pain etched on my face it didn’t require a coherent answer.
New strategy needs to be put in place and quick, so I ran the flats, walked the hills, there were over 300m of climbing on the course.
The crowds were amazing, you sort of forget that a marathon is a long way.
Fuelled on flat coke for the last 15km or so, with teeth gritted, started to enjoy the run and the occasion.
Onto the Ironman finishing mat, cheers echoing, blurred vision, oblivious of pain, high five Paul Kay the event compere, across the line big smile “Bloody grand!”.
Second Ironman done, finishing time 12hours 47 minutes 09 seconds, finishing 6th in age group!
Swim 01:20:05 T1 00:13:21 Bike 06:49:27 T2 00:09:39 Run 04:14:39 Finish 12:47:09
Swim – Blueseventy Reaction wetsuit
Bike – Giant Trinity Advance Pro
HTC club kit and Rapha bib shorts
Run – HTC club kit and On Running shoes
Fuel – High5 4:1 on bike nutrition, SiS gels and energy bars, Clif Blok Shots, Saltsticks
What caused my cramping? Still trying to work that out, but suspect that I did not hydrate sufficiently on the bike. Whilst, I did not feel at all dehydrated, I drank around 1.5 litres of High5 throughout the ride.
You live and learn!
Ordinary people, extraordinary goals!
A special thank you, has to go to my family (for putting up with me), everyone at Hampstead Triathlon club (best club in the universe), Nick at Giant Camden and the race was dedicated to my mum Elizabeth, who we sadly lost in May.