IMUK 2020

Rookie goes for 4 in a row @ IMUK ‘DIY style’ : What happened on ‘Race day


By the skin of my teeth, once again….

Before we get cracking with the race report, I’d like to explore for a moment ‘why’ I did this, if I may…..

That is a question I asked myself over and over more than 100 times yesterday….

To be fair it went more along the lines of “Why the fuck am I doing this?”

It’s an answer of several parts….

First, i’d arrogantly said that not only am I ‘going anyway’, i’m going to PB and if I don’t, I’ll give me Ironman entry fee (£500) to charity – something for little saffie rose who was the same age as my little girl, went to the school round the corner from my house and was very sadly taken in the Manchester bombing atrocity…..

I was banking on the fact that Ironman would give me my money back but they didn’t (bastards) which means I am now going to have to pay that myself, but it’s for Saffie, so we donate in a heartbeat…..

Second, I quite liked the romance of making it 4 in a row at Bolton, but the reality is, no-one really gives a shit how many times you have ‘done the Ironman’ despite what you might think and there will always be someone who has done it more times than you….

Third, I was doing a one man protest at the fact that the iconic 2017 bike circuit should never have been changed in the first place (which is why we did the ‘DIY’ attempt on this loop) – to casually rip out Babylon Lane and Hunters Hill from the Bolton bike course shows a frightening lack of understanding as to what Ironman had created in those areas (look at the photograph ffs)…..

Fourth, let’s have it right, i’ve clearly got a screw loose somewhere and I was shocked that the boys in white coats weren’t waiting for me on arrival at penny flash with a big net…..

What became crystal clear very quickly yesterday though is that the ‘pull’ for me, is the supporters and doing it without them is pointless….

On race day at Bolton, you have all the local tri clubs dotted around the course at various points (usually outside boozers) and the racket they make for you as you come trundling past is out of this world (they do this for everyone, not just their own)

In addition, you have general members of the public who line the streets in their thousands to cheer you on and we must never forget that what you are doing (completing an Ironman) is ‘impossible’ as far as they re concerned…

The expression on their faces when you look into their eyes and tell them that you are finding it ‘easy’…..

That’s what lights my fire…..

Make no mistake, without the supporters, Ironman has nothing…..

They would do well to remember that…..

If I was running the show I would be re-distributing profits to all the local tri clubs for them to spend as they see fit and putting money behind the bar of the boozers that line the route on race day…that sort of stuff…..

The other thing I learnt yesterday was that life is easier when you ‘know your place’…..

My ‘place’ is just getting round within the cut offs – that is what I do…..

When you try to become something that you are not, this is when your problems start…..

Here is how it went….

Pre race

3 hours kip because i’m all excited like a kid on xmas eve who can’t sleep – pathetic when there isn’t even a ‘real’ race going on….

Something else of note – I was still around 2 stone 9 over ‘peak’…..this is also ‘pathetic’

Swim : 1:31

Lining up by the side of penny flash at 6am with 2 other ‘loons’ all ‘going anyway’ for a race that was cancelled months ago whilst playing thunderstruck on a mobile speaker and singing the national anthem in fine voice is a memory that I will take to the grave…

There was me, ‘Kona Gaz’ (who qualified for Kona at Bolton last year) and Ste Walton, another good lad who is much closer to gaz’s performance than mine.

I was expecting the flash to be ice cold but it wasn’t – it was much warmer than expected…..

We were to do 8 x laps of the 470 metre short course plus a bit, in my case this was broken down into 2 sets of 4 laps.

My first 4 laps went like a dream and the flash was the calmest i have seen it for a long time, cruising round in 40 odd minutes.

The second 4 laps were ok, except for the final one which was a right battle and it felt like it was getting rough for good measure – slightly unnerving but got round all the same….

1:31 for the swim which was bang on plan….

Massive thanks to big Steve at the flash for letting us do this and the boys in the boats for keeping us safe

T1 : 25 min

Had to move me car as the sensor was broke on the gate so we wouldn’t have been able to get out later – first time i’ve ever had to do that in T1 and probably the last but so glad we found that out now instead of midnight……..

14 Mile pre loop : 1 hour

Took me an hour, just like this horrible teeth clattering pre loop always does….

1st 47 mile bike loop (iconic 2017 circuit) – 3:15

The weather in this country is an absolute disgrace….

There was a galeforce headwind the entire time and it was freezing – exactly the conditions I hate…

It felt more like the middle of winter than the middle of summer…..

Sulked all the way round I did….

At Ironman, if you try to draft you will get a DQ (and probably a slap)

However, this was my race and my rules so we’ll have drafting thanks….

Trouble is, drafting is a double edged sword….

The problem with trying to draft a Kona qualifier is that their slow is your ‘way too fast’

90 minutes in we were joined by gaz’s mate, another rapid animal with a bike that looked more expensive than most peoples car….

Truth is, I wasn’t good enough to keep up with them, I was ok on the flat, but once we got to the hills, I kept getting dropped….

3:15 for the first lap but it felt more like a 2:30 given the perceived effort and conditions….

Massive shout out to the ever present ‘big G’ and Ste’s mate Andy for doing their bit on the ‘supporter’ front at various points…

2nd 47 mile loop…4:12

2nd time over sheephouse and I was coming massively unstuck….

Ste had promised me that his mrs would be waiting for us at the top with a beef pate butty….

That was the best beef pate butty i’ve ever eaten in my life….

I continued to struggle all the way over to Brindle…..

The group, which was now up to 5 riders, kept waiting for me bless em, but I was going under massively….

That feeling of energy depletion when you’ve nothing left, you are being battered by a freezing gale force headwind and you still have 40 odd miles left to do….

I was disappointed by how tough I found the bike circuit today – I was expecting it to be far easier in a group but it wasn’t – large chunks of it were worse than ever….

I did get a massive lift though once I got to the cavindesh arms and realised I still had 2 and a half hours left to complete the course for an 8:30 bike…

Fuck the PB and fuck trying to go fast….

Know your place…

‘Just’ get round within the cut offs….

That is my place….

I limped round to T2 in 4:12, giving a total swim + bike plus T1 of 10:23 versus a ‘cut’ of 10:30….

I’d done it by a fraction, once again….

T2 – 23 mins

T2 involved ste’s mrs’s step dad bringing a big white van round to the bee-hive in bolton in which to put our bikes and get changed into our run gear -gotta love that – it’s proper phoenix nights

Over 6 hours to do the mara…..

Piece of cake….

Run : 5:54 mara

The 2017 run course involved running down the canal so you have already completed 10k by the time you get onto chorley new road (again this should never have been changed as the noise from the supporters as you came up by the side of retreat was electric and sensational for first timers)

We copied this with our own twist, kissing the statue of sir nat outside the reebok en route to the canal….

I managed to stick with the lads all the way into Bolton (15k) but was now losing the will to live….

In theory, the challenge was a simple one….

Beaumont road and back 3 times and we are done….

The reality was it felt like trying to run pissed….

I was in a right state and still had nearly 30k to go with only 4 hours in which to do it and was concerned there wasn’t enough time left in the bank, so started to panic…

Thankfully, we were joined by Ste’s ace wife Sarah, an ultra runner…..

“I don’t think I am gonna be able to do this you know”….

“You will do it and I will get you through it” came the reply….

The lads went off but Sarah stayed with me pretty much the entire time, rushing off to fetch food and water at numerous points and stopping me from ‘going under’ with the chat….

If it wasn’t for Sarah’s help on the run I wouldn’t have got through it, simple as that….

The other thing I wouldn’t have been able to complete this mara without, is a plan….

It was time for the run/walk strategy of old….

Walk all the way ‘up’ chorley new road and jog back into town….

This got me out of the shit, big time….

Using this strategy, I was able to complete the first lap in 1 hour and the second in 1:10….

This left me 1 hour 50 to complete the final lap….

When I got to beaumont road for the final time, I had over an hour to complete the last 5k…..

“I reckon I could walk all the way back into Bolton in under an hour from here” I said to myself…..

So that is exactly what I did….

I walked the entire lap and ended up beating the cut off by 20 minutes….

“Cheat cheat cheat” comes the chant and quite rightly so….

Do I look like I give a monkey’s?

I’ll see you next year cock…..

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