UK Ironman 70.3 Wimbleball – Sunday 15th June, 2014

 

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The Race

UK Ironman 70.3 (Wimbleball, Somerset)

Overall Score

23.5

PB Potential

0

Atmosphere

5

Organisation

5

Scenery

5

Value for Money

3.5

Beginner Friendliness

5

Club Support & Social

0

In Short

Fantastic Experience, great weather, brilliant people.

In Full: Last year in a drunken state on my 50th Birthday, I was challenged to a triathlon event.Having not participated in sport since 1989, I stupidly accepted the gauntlet. This was the test of one year of training in running, cycling and learning to swim.

The race took place in the beautiful setting of the National Park at Exmoor, Wimbleball Somerset. I drove down on Thursday, set up on the campsite and was able to watch the Ironman village develop. By Saturday there was about 1000 tents and caravans; the atmosphere was fantastic and everyone was so helpful and friendly.

I booked in on Friday morning and received my goodie bag and numbers, tattoos and changing bags. I bought my souvenirs (you need a mortgage to buy anything), went for a little bike ride and a practice swim, then rested. Saturday was another time to take a small run and a little swim and soak up the atmosphere on a glorious sunny weekend. I didn’t sleep well on any evening, I felt like a child at Christmas waiting for Santa.

At 5 am on Sunday the alarm went off and the moment arrived that I had been waiting all year for. The place was buzzing – everyone doing last minute checks eating breakfast and then heading down to the transition area for 6.30 am. We all walked down to the lake together for a 7.00am start for wave 1 and 7.15 start for wave 2.

There were 1800 people swimming 1.2 miles at all different abilities and there were plenty safety boats in case anyone got into trouble. Out of the water there was a 400 meter run uphill to transition, where there was a strip down of the wet suit and a dress up in cycle kit before collecting your bike and running to the start line before setting off on what is described as the hardest 70.3 Ironman course. However, anyone training around Consett will train in the hardest terrain anyway. Two laps of a hilly course climbing 1200 meters and covering 56 miles. There were two feeding stations on the loop, so you could drink, eat bars or bananas 4 times during the ride preparing yourself for the hilly 13.1 mile half marathon.

There was plenty encouragement around the course from locals and marshals, and a nice downhill stretch to finish and come into T2. Here you changed your shoes, and in my case, my top, as I wanted to run down the red carpet in my Bounders vest. Out of the transition area to cover 3 hilly laps of the park. As I climbed the first hill I suffered leg cramps, and they persisted right to the end. It was now a mind over matter situation. I had 3 and a half hours to the cut off, so just put one foot in front of the other and tried to forget about the cramps.

There were three feed stations per lap on the run, consisting of water, gels, bananas, and bars. Everyone was doing different laps at this point so you didn’t know if you were in front or behind, as you did not know what lap everyone else was on. This was good as you no longer felt you were in a race competing against others, but that you were competing against the clock and yourself, so there was no pressure.

After three hot, sticky, hilly laps you peel off and head for the Red carpet, where they call out your name and you try to pose for the camera. Everyone seemed to get the same encouragement and applause from the crowd. Everyone who runs down the red carpet is a winner; you receive your medal then go to the tent for your t-shirt, something to eat and a massage.

Will I do it again…?

Too right I will! I’m off to Zell Am See in Austria in 9 weeks to take part there, and my name is down for unfinished business next year now I have a time to beat a PB to aim for, and, if I get accepted, I will be in Bolton for the full Ironman.

 

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