Race Reports

Ironman Wales

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I'm not sure at any point prior to waking up in race morning, had it actually sunk in what I was about to do, either that or I had selectively blocked it from my mind.

We arrived in Wales on Thursday to register and just have a chance to get used to the strange bed/surroundings etc.

Friday we drove the bike course. Well. I learned from that that the westerly loop was easier than most hills we have around us, but the 2nd loop was going to be hell on earth. The westerly loops was quite good road, little bump hills that didn't take a huge amount of effort to get up and at least 3 spectacular views. In contrast the other loop was quite a stones surface with lots of winding hedge enclosed roads and 3 of the worst hills I have ever seen.  The hill coming up into Narberth started off steep but then eased off a bit but went on forever, the 2nd on the way into Saundersfoot was a 16% straight up Jon, not dissimilar to Kidds Hill and the 3rd, known locally as Heartbreak Hill was of similar percentage but it did a lot of winding. Realisation also dawned that the hill out of Tenby that I had said "oh no, I hope we aren't cycling up here!" about, was in fact the hill we were running up.

Saturday, bike racking day. Took everything down, racked it in my allocated slot and put the cover on, at which point it completely disappeared! I've never seen anything like it, 1500 bikes all racked together in exactly the same place. It was at this point I became quite thankful for the knowledge that I would be far from the first person put the swim so that would make my life a lot easier!  After racking my plastic bags and driving off I suddenly got struck with an immense paranoia that I had somehow forgotten to put my helmet in my bag, even though I knew it had been on my head at the point I racked the bag and wasn't when I left!

Sunday. Race day. 3 alarms went off at 4 just to ensure that none of them spontaneously failed and I woke to have missed race start. 5:10 start making our way over to suddenly realise that I had left the carrier bag with all my drinks in in our room, glad I left early! Upon arrival, Darren dropped me off so that he could go and park the car somewhere and I made my way to transition, still not entirely aware of the magnitude of the situation, to put all my bits on my bike.

Walking down the road to transition (it was still dark at this point) was like a scene from a zombie film, and I thought wow, it's actually happening, the start of a zombie apocalypse! But no, it was just all my fellow competitors slowly walking towards their destiny. Some neoprene clad, others not. Once I'd sorted the bike and got my wetsuit on and everyone else was assembled we started the walk down to the beach. I couldn't stop thinking to myself how far it was and how I was one of the only people I could see wearing flip flops rather than trainers!

As we were nearing the beach it was still dark and I was beginning to wonder if tinted goggles were a bad choice and which point the chap next to me said he was thinking the same thing. Once we had racked our bags on the railings of the ridiculous ramp from the beach to the esplanade we made our way down onto the sand. We were talked through the course which was 2 laps out to one what I thought was a massive buoy, along the back to another, then back in to the beach. The sea was perfectly calm which was nice, seeing as the previous year had caught the tail end of that hurricane, and the sun was just starting to rise behind the clouds.

This is it, no backing out now. I need a pee. It's still dark, where am I going again? Some of the thoughts that went through my mind, then following a rendition of the welsh national anthem we were off. This was it. Sink or swim literally.

Was the little amount of training I had done been enough? I hoped so, I seemed to be able to pull it out the bag in the past, hopefully it would work again this time? Hope so, there's a lot riding on it, not to mention the bits I'd bought at the expo which I would feel unable to wear if I failed!

I decided to hang near the back like usual, let the pros fight it out among themselves. Right, pull pull breathe, pull pull breathe, this is easy, just think of it as the Arun swim that you've done so many times before... Heading out to the first buoy was quite hard going, for a start, despite the thing being about 7-8 feet tall and similarly as wide I just couldn't pick it out, I think it was the plethora or orange lifeboats around that detracted from it... An, there it is, pull pull breath, woohoo I'm there, next! The back straight was fast. That ws probably the quickest side by far but again as the buoy ws even further away this time it was even more difficult to spot so I hoped whoever was leading the back knew where they were going as I'm pretty sure everyone was just following them! After that one, back into the beach sighting on Goskar Rock which is a bike spiky rock that is just off the beach and is somewhat imposing. Go Iron Cops! Said one of the banners that had been strung on it, yeah, go iron cops! you can do it! Running across the beach I stole a glance at my watch, 40 minutes, not bad, just got to do it again. Getting back in almost seemed harder as you felt like "but I've done this already!" but do it again you must, so off we go. The sea had started to get a little choppier at this stage. Still nothing too bad though. Out of the water for the final time, I managed to get straight up with no wobbling at all and made for the ramp. Found my stuff, got my wetsuit off and rinsed myself down with water. Once at the top of the ramp, donned my flip flops and jogged back to the transition with a few people commenting on the fact I was running in flip flops! But that's what I do!

Nothing really of note happened in transition although I did note that I was in and out a lot quicker than some of the people that had been in there before me.

Bike. This is the part I was anxious about since so much could happen that is beyond your control. Quick time check, right I have 8 hours 55 mins to complete it. I can do this. I decided that after the drive on Friday, the best course of action was to do the first loop as fast as I could without compromising energy levels etc to build myself a buffer for the harder loops, so off I went and I actually felt like I was positively flying. I decided to treat it like any other normal Sunday bike ride and break it up into things I knew. The first loop I decided was out to Boxhill and back. Amazingly I didn't even feel like I had done a swim at all and basically felt fresh as a daisy. Legs turning well, past a couple of cleat errors on the first big hill but they seemed ok, come on, grind it up there then you'll be rewarded with a nice downhill. Weeeeeeeeeeeeee! I'm liking this, with it being closed road you literally felt like you owned the road, I think this was pretty much every cyclists dream, go as fast as you like with no risk of being hit by cars whilst dodging pot holes etc. I was living the dream! Ok bike, we can do this, just you, me and the open road. If you get me through this I'll buy you some new shoes (tyres) that match your outfit and you'll look really pretty, I'm sorry I didn't get you new shoes before the race, but we all know you shouldn't try out new shoes on race day! And it seemed to work as we were flying round passing various people with mechanical issues on their fancy carbon fiber TT bikes.

The view over the bay that was so spectacular on Friday was less so today, the wind was right up and I was being blown all over the place! Thankfully that stretch is quite small before you started cycling up between some sandy dunes. Made it round the bottom loop, only 2 more to go. The first half of the 2 loop section is fine, if you're ok riding round Sussex then it's nothing new, rubbish road surface, tight turns and the odd bump in the road and incidentally it seems like the primary road kill in Wales is slugs. Heading towards Narberth there were a couple of really long grindy hills then there was the hill into Narberth itself. I could see a couple of people pushing their bikes up ahead but I thought I had to at least try. After the initial ramp it was actually ok, got to the top and it was like the top of a mountain at the TDF there was music, hundreds of people and you could help but grin like an idiot.

Round the whole thing actually the support was fantastic, people all outside their houses cheering you on, I don't think I stopped smiling at all on the first lap round. Then came some hairy descents that I certainly was glad we weren't having to go up before hitting the bottom of the 16% hill. I can only describe it as the top section of Kidds Hill but a little longer. It just goes straight up and the road surface was a little rubbish which didn't help. Managed to puff and blow my way to the top though then after a bit of respite came Heartbreak Hill. Unsure of the % of this one, but it was quite twisty and was again lined with people so stopping wasn't an option then once all the strength in your legs has been taken by those 2 hills you have to do a bit more climbing before finally hitting the descent into Tenby... Before doing it all again! Nothing much different to note about the 2nd loop apart from the fact a head wind had got up and it started raining which pushed away all but the most die hard of supporters so I think my grin may have started slipping that time round! Especially when it got to those 2 hills but with an additional 30 odd miles on your legs since you last did them!

On the final descent into Tenby I had a little cry of happiness as I realised that I was actually going to do it, there was no reason at all now why I couldn't finish. I felt worn but not exhausted or anything, it was actually going to happen, I was going to go home an Ironman!

Got out onto the run pretty quickly and surprisingly my legs actually felt fine, but what wasn't playing ball was my back. That felt stiff as a board and just didn't want to loosen. The run course was 4 loops up a horrible hill then back down and around Tenby itself. Each loops you got a different coloured band so all I could do was look at everyone else bands and decide how far ahead of me they were or whether I was ahead of them etc. first loops went ok. I stuck to my plan of power walking up hills and running back down and it was going well. The support in Tenby was absolutely fantastic with people shouting your name as you went past, again, you couldn't stop the smiles!

By the 2nd loop my stomach was starting to feel really tight, probably as a result of gulping too much air down with my drinks so that wasn't helping the cause, but I was still sticking to the plan, walk up, run down. By the 3rd loop when a lot of people had finished and again the crowds had started dwindling it was starting to get really really tough. I think it was also the hardest because you were sort of in no mans land, you still had to do another loop but you were so so tired and didn't have the motivation that came from being on the home straight.

By the 4th loop I had perked up a little knowing that as soon as I got that beautiful beautiful pink band on my arm that was it, I could finish so I dug deep and ran where I could. I kept telling myself that if i could finish before 23:00 then i would have a 15 something time. Unsurprisingly the only real support now came from some hard core supporters in their gardens/hanging out of windows "come in Sussex!" was the regular cheer I got and it kept making me smile, I made sure I thanked all of them for their support on the last leg as it really was that that gets you through with any hint of a smile by the end.

Back in Tenby the support came from several groups of people gathered outside pubs with their cowbells and high fives and it just felt amazing, the final smile was when I ran past a restaurant and everyone started cheering saying things like "yeah she made it, go on Sussex!" and stuff like that. How many more corners 'til the finish line? Surely I must be nearly there?! Then there it was left for finish, right to go out on the loop again.

I'll take left thank you very much! I wanted to finish strong so I took a hundred meters or so to walk jut to ensure I had enough to power through the finish, then this was it! I'd done it! The moment I'd spent a year preparing(well sort of) for and it was all going to be done in the next 10 seconds! Better still I was going to get 15 something.... Epic!

Once through the line (15:39:26) I got given my medal by the mayor who must have been standing there all day bless him, and a big hug from one of the helpers who said she'd been cheering me on from the swim and was really really pleased for me.

One of the little things that made me smile is they give you the timing chip band which as you can imagine over the last 36 or so (I put it on the minute they gave it to me to avoid losing it!) hours, I had become rather fond of.

Now, sitting here typing this it's all a bit surreal. I know I did it because I have the medal, t-shirt and very very tired feet, but apart from that I don't feel substantially worse than after just an ordinary marathon. Maybe there is a pain saturation point after which it literally can't get any worse? Would I do it again?

Yes, definitely! I'd say to anyone out there, if you want to do one, just do it. If you are determined enough then it will happen. Don't allow self doubt to stand in the way, it really is an incredible feeling that everyone should get to experience.


Swim   01:20:44
T1      00:14:42
Bike    08:24:05
T2      00:05:51
Run    05:34:02
Total  15:39:26

Roth 2012

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If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you except the will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And - which is more - you'll be an IronMan, my son!



My Roth - Ant Grey

I had been dreading the swim, so it was with quite a bit of trepidation that I lined up for the start of the swim. The turn around buoy the other side of a distant bridge looked very far away. The swim went fairly well, although I seemed to have trouble getting a draft from 'quick feet'. No sooner had I latched onto a pair than the swimmer in question decided to meander off to the bank or the middle.
I mostly found myself swimming in large 'empty pockets' of water, maintaining (I thought) a relatively straight line to the markers. The return was great once you got close to the start line I could hear the commentator and cheers of the large crowd even through my ear plugs.

I exited the water in a bit under 1:16 which was close to my target time, what wasn't in my plan was the rather large T1 duration. It didn't help that my bike was almost as far away from the changing tent as it could be. I took my time in T1 as well ensuring there was enough comfort cream applied down below to last the distance, along with a good dosage of sun tan lotion.

The bike course was excellent, I had to rein myself in a bit at the start to keep to my target heart rate zone, although towards the end of the bike course this wasn't a problem as tiredness did that for me.
The support from the crowd was amazing, apparently local news and radio reported that there were about 200,000 supporters in attendance and they really did lift your spirits with their enthusiastic support.
Lots of banging, drums, rattles, even old WWII air raid sirens. At one particular stretch of the cycle course there were half a dozen or more soldiers in uniform standing at attention saluting the competitors.
Lots of supporters holding their hands out for flying fives, I even had one guy running up one of the steep hills with me cheering me on.
The Solaberg hill was amazing, there are barriers there to funnel you through to a single lane. Supporters there are about 15-20 deep on both sides and you hit this roller coaster of sound and emotion. I choked a bit going up the hill the first time, it was all a bit overwhelming.

The bike course is a bit open and unfortunately there was a bit of a breeze which made it harder than it could of been. My time of 5:57 was a bit slower than the 5:40-5:45 that I had been planning on doing.
Another slow transition followed, but this was partly my own doing as I had a quick chat with Jon to find out why I had managed to pass him towards the end of the cycle leg, and a quick trip to the porta loo (sorry Dave, but I couldn't bring myself to utilise 'that' particular strategy on the bike course).

I started off fairly well on the run, having to try and hold back a bit for my target 9:00 minute miles. Unfortunately the heat and tired legs soon took their toll. I had planned on only walking through the aid stations, but after the first 10Km I had made my first walk of shame. The next 15Km were very hard for me although the crowd were very uplifting with their support. With about 15 Km to go I realised that a sub 12 hour time was still a possibility if I pulled my finger out, queue a lot less walking. With 4 miles to go the sub 12 was still on but there was no time now to walk through the aid stations so I pressed on ignoring the offers of drinks and sponges. By now my legs were all over the place, lots of rippling muscle spasms running up and down my legs with each stride. With less than a mile to go I had given up on my target time and had started the walks of shame again. Before I knew it the finish tunnel was within sight, 2 minutes to go, could I do it?  With what felt like a sprint, but in reality was simply a fast shuffle, I charged up the red carpet finish loop, barging past other competitors intent on crossing en-masse. To cheers from the MSTC supporters crew I finished in under the 12 hours. Unfortunately the last few miles had taken their toll so I was rather unwell and had to go to the medical tent for an IV pick me up!

I couldn't imagine being able to do such an event without the help and support from the friends and family that were there to support or compete, and also my own family back home for having put up with my crazy training schedule over the last 7-8 months.


My Roth - Jamie Goodhead

Not sure what I was more apprehensive about - a week in a foreign country with my parents, three kids and wife or the inspiration that is an Iron-distance triathlon after not having participated in a triathlon for over 10 years.  Anyway as I couldn't decide I thought I may as well preoccupy myself with thoughts pertaining to "will my bike actually survive easy jet?", "will my kit be the oldest there?", "does Lycra disintegrate with time?" and "will out of date gels make me sick?".

When I arrived at Munich Airport I was slightly perplexed by the number of bikes from previous flights without owners - a friendly German lady told me to think positively and she was right - out it came in one piece.   Despite my retro bike, kit and gels I felt sufficiently prepared until I got to registration where I found my front wheel had been made "illegal" - if work has taught me one thing, it is that there is little point taking on a debate with a German following "instructions" so I swallowed my pride and gladly took the spare wheel on offer from Jim who had pretty much two of everything!   That exemplifies the week - everyone was happy and helpful  with Jim in the back ground fiddling with his extra kit!

Now true fear started the day before the race - not so much about the race itself but by leaving one's bike in the sun fully race ready.  As the sound of bursting tubs could be heard on the walk back to car I had a night to ponder how I should go about changing my tyre(s) in the morning in what may be a closed off transition area.  Thankfully all of our bikes were intact although there were many a triathlete being informed to the contrary over the tannoy.

I suppose you may be interested in the "race" (personally I'm not sure anything over 5 hours is actually a "race").  To summarise, it was ruthlessly efficient.  I failed to see why we needed to be there 2.5 hours early for the swim but ho hum, sleep was not really happening.  What a pleasant swim (aka "warm-up") - no point killing oneself, I was happy to sit back, watch the crowds and enjoy the moment - over too soon it was onto the bike.  180kms on tri-bars is not something I could imagine or train for so I felt "winging it" was the only viable strategy which seemed to work.  I was terrified of being busted for drafting and ending up in the "pit of shame" so I can honestly say I have never been so "clean" in all my life and before I knew it I was in T2 being helped by a German lady who  was not the slightest bit perplexed by my full frontal.  Having enjoyed the crowds and survived the wind / hills I was now looking forward to a pleasant jog but by now the litre of fluid & three gels per hour  were starting to catch up on me - 10kms later and a bag of pix & mix I reached for the salt tabs that Mr Mac had given me the day before - they worked a treat, my stomache started to empty and despite being a victim of TBC (Total Body Confusion) I jogged on.  The only conversation I had the whole day was 30kms into the run with Hans who told me he was "fxxx'd up bad" and looking at him he was correct!  An hour later it was all over with a deceptive burst of speed down the finishing straight - naturally my wife passed me the kids with a look that clearly meant - "its your turn now"!

I would fully recommend this race / family holiday, that was made all the more enjoyable with the cracking bunch from the club!!

My Roth Claire Cresswell

A little bit of my heart doesn't want me to write a race report. However I am sitting with a huge smile on my face, another adventure ticked off the box. Perhaps it might seem weird to you that I am smiling as I didn't finish the Ironman. It doesn't to me, from the minute I booked to do the second ironman I have been excited.

We are going with Jamie, Jim, Jon, Steve B, Ant and Steve M. What a team, no wonder I am excited. We are sharing a house and its going to be great. I don't really know all the guys that well, so it will be a great chance to spend some time with them and their friends/families/loved ones some of which I do know like: Pippa, Emma and Kay.

I know already the guys are going to "fly", such a wealth of experience between them. I so enjoyed my first one last year. Having a time of 15hrs 4 mins to beat was something I was hugely aware of as Roth has the cut off of 15 hrs, not 17 hrs like Austria. My training this year seemed more settled . . at times.

Like anything that's a big sacrifice this year, this was no different. A few 'hurdles', make the end challenge even more appealing. Mine started with a lovely touch of bacterial sinusitis and a remarkable cough that left me with a very husky voice - which has been missed by a few of my patients!! This took me out of training for about three weeks in a very pivotal time.

Then the information that we could represent GREAT BRITAIN that felt at times like a noose around my neck was something that was not deserved however hard not to cherish as a thank you for the continued support to give back to my mum, dad, family and of course Tim. Seeing "the Trisuit" with CRESSWELL GBR made me start to think about why I race? Why I HAVE to keep challenging myself? Why do I make life harder, by choosing an impossible distance to train to and put myself under so much pressure? When in life most of my other pleasures are escapism from pressure, gardening, painting, cooking etc..

I know now why I did it. I rang my dad when I was having my leg taped up in Germany.
"Hi Dad"
"Hi Clasmo"
"How's mum? how did the chemo go for her? "
"She fine-ish honey, we were more worried about you"
"ohh I am fine-ish "
"we could see that you only got to 108 miles on the bike, are you sure you're ok?"
"Yes-ish, my leg got really painful dad, "I was having a ball" the roads here, are like you said they would be FANTASTIC and mainly flat if you take out the Solarberg and a few other hills"
"What's the solarberg, hon?"
"oh, so much to tell you, dad, the solarberg was awesome. You could see it in the distance, the iconic hill that is littered with supporters making enormous amounts of noise, banking drums, whizzing rattles, you would have loved to have seen it, it looked like something out of the tour de France. I couldn't see where my path was. Only room for one bike UP and thick crowds of supporters smacking you on the back, shouting HOP, HOP, Hop, Allez, Sooouper, it was unreal. I had to keep one hand on the handlebars and the other flicking my hand to indicate that they needed to get out of the way as I was cycling on up. It was phenomenal the noise and atmosphere was wild almost as noisy as the crowd at Foo Fighters concert!  You'll have to come with us next time dad. I am just having my leg iced and then it's going to be strapped up - don't worry though, all is good dad, all is good.
"So what happened?"
"well, I was really tinkering along for me and it was easy to do at times as the roads were flat and I think that my vastas medialis muscle (inner quad muscle) got very fatigued and I altered my position on the bike and sat further back in the saddle. Then I started getting, knee pain and my first ever sciatic pain for about ten miles this didn't arrive until I had done 90 miles and the constant pain in my knee was unbearable with every turn of the leg"
"You should have just stopped, mum and I are very proud of you no matter what you do"
"Dad, I couldn't just stop to begin with, the way my body manages discomfort and pain is a part of what gets you over that finish line, these events dad .they are tough, they are meant to break you"
"Hmmm, Did you enjoy the swim?"
"It was great, a bit warm for wetsuits sitting just under 23degrees. I loved the swim. A very settling moment for a big event, nothing can go wrong in the swim for me. It went so fast dad. When I got a migraine from the pain in my leg and decided to stop at the top of the hill after the solarberg, I couldn't take my weight and decided very sensibly to stop a very close 4 miles from finishing the bike, Tim bizarrely was there for me, I didn't see him, but he was there for me with Kay and Mark"
"Cor, I bet you were knackered"
"No - full of energy - I think I might have to reserve that for when the pain in my leg has gone"
"So, you will do another?"
"Oh, definitely Dad, I feel like this injury was a one off. This is the distance I love, I do it because I can and it makes me so happy"
"Did you learn anything about yourself today and did you enjoy your time away with Tim and your friends?"
"Dad, it's been great, I know you wanted to be here and I am so happy that you stayed with mum, she has been on my mind. We have had the time of our lives, experienced so much in such a short time with some really lovely remarkable people, so many stories to tell and despite the possible grade 2 tear of rectus femoris, I am happy"
"That's my girl, always happy to challenge yourself and that's what makes us proud - sometimes darling , and you won't want to hear this - you sometimes learn more about your direction in life through not completing something.
"Umm, maybe, Dad this call is costing me the earth I am sure! The guy has taped my leg know - beautiful bright pink tape. I am going to ring Tim and he will wander back from the finish line to help me see the guys cross the finish line, I can't wait to see them they have been remarkable"
"Ok, remember to be proud, you still did a superb job, you don't sound tired after doing 108 miles  ...
"I know I am not tired, my leg hurts Dad.I can't straighten it, the pain was just too much"
"Claire, you're just human and what you did was just one day out of your whole life, and honey, you would have finished easily the bike in time, so be proud ok? Ok? We have checked your cats, there fine and we will see you when you get home. Goodbye Love - Everyone from the family sends there love to you and Tim.
"Thanks Dad, I Love you, see you soon"

I can't change what has happened, and having the ultrasound (with the confirmed partial tear in the hamstrings) isn't great. I am "behaving" and walking around the pool for twenty minutes everyday and nearly causing lots of accidents with the crutches has made me realise that it won't be the last IM . just a little hiccup on route to the next.

Well Done to the super incredible Jamie, Jim, Ant, Steve B, Jon and Steve M You were all amazing.


My Roth Steve Mac

The preparation

This was to be my A race for the year. After a lot of hard training I was feeling good so I decided that Roth 2012 would be my chance to lay down my fastest time. Also it was to be the European Championships and I could be representing Ireland. With the other MSTC competitors representing GB, I could envisage that with us all in our kit, this could make for a great photo.

Every time I think about Roth I get butterflies. Can I really do it? Of course, after all, I have done this distance before in the Switzerland Ironman. Well, that's what I keep telling myself. Swim - no bother, bike - after the Mont Blanc training camp no worries and as for the run - although I have never been a keen runner I have really focused on it in this time and am as confident as I have ever been. I am actually looking forward to it.

Arrival in Germany

We arrive on the Thursday and are sharing a very large house with some great club members. Lots of nervous energy and lots of banter; which is a great lead up.

We arrive at registration which in typical German fashion goes very smoothly. Believe it or not we are the first in line. Okay, I admit this is only because we set off 2 hrs earlier to do a test swim but could not find the start, but did find the registration tent! It is also at this point that Jamie discovers he is illegal. Well his front wheel is  anyway.

The next day we are out driving the bike course when unfortunately Steve and Pippa are involved in a road traffic accident. Everyone is ok but as the car badly damaged this cannot be a good place for your mind to be 2 days before a big race. With the incident taking place at a crossroads, the locals come out to see the incident and despite speaking little or no English (matched equally by our limited German), they bring out coffee and cakes for us all. They are great people and this really warms the spirit despite the distressing

The Big Day

Breakfast at 03:00 and I'm feeling refreshed and invigorated after a great night's sleep...  I wish. Thankfully I am too nervous to feel tired. Well how else are you supposed to feel at 03:00 in the morning after an hour or two of sleep?

Swim 3.8km  01:00:05

The swim is great as I knew it would be. All the anticipation and all the nerves just melt away when I pull my wetsuit over my shoulders and zip it up. Now it's time to race, I tell myself. Up to this point I am pretty unfocused as my way to chill is to talk to people and have the craic.

In the water on the front line BOOOOM a hugh cannon goes off to signal my wave start. Well this is a surprise, normally its a bun fight at the start, but this one goes really well. I am in the lead pack but they are going way too fast so I back off and really start to enjoy the swim. I spot another person off the pack who is swimming a bit quicker than me so I latch onto his slip stream and cruise along at his faster pace but putting in less effort.

We come across and pass 3 other waves I realise that I have passed Jon and Jim. That's great as I need a big lead on them for the bike. Before I know it its time for the fun to end and get onto some serious racing.

Out of the swim with a time of 01:00:05 - where the hell did those 5 seconds come from??

T1 03:36

Out of the wetsuit and pull bike shorts over the tri suit and out, but quickly have to go back to get sun block rubbed into me.

Bike 180km 06:12:00

Out on the bike feeling great. The first couple of miles are quite twisty and mainly downhill and quite soon we travel through the army "ration station". We are being saluted by soldiers either side of the road which is quite unusual. I come across 'beer miles' all over the route and note that it is very well supported.

It is however windy, very windy. When the head wind stops, it simply moves to the side and tries to push you off, then turns back into a head wind again, especially towards Greding. The bike route is subsequently described by the race organiser as having the most difficult conditions he had known in fifteen years, due to cross winds. 

All that said, my extra training at David Jones Mont Blanc training camp has paid off as I barely notice any hills and storm the twisty descent with switchbacks. I overtake the more cautious riders and this becomes one of the highlights of my race, overshadowed only by the famous Solarberg climb. On its own, this would be a relatively minor climb. But with a crowd of 20,000-30,000 standing 10 deep and lining the road like a Tour mountain stage in the Pyrenees, it is something special that will remain in my memory for life. The climb is as
I said minor and I approach it with a heart rate of 75%. However, this jumps quickly to 90+% half way up. Not due to the excursion but just the pure buzz and energy from the crowd. You cannot see the road for spectators and have to play chicken with them as they part inches in front of you. With your heart pumping and your ears ringing with their huge cheers, it is truly amazing.

I gradually realise that I am becoming dehydrated, I haven't peed at all even though I am drinking over a bottle an hour. It transpires that unfortunately this becomes my undoing as I subsequently suffer a large crash in my blood sugars. Even though my feeding regime is tried and tested, they drop to dangerously low levels so I have to revert to my backup emergency feeding plan... bolt down as much glucose as possible. Unfortunately even this doesn't work.  However, I do see a tiny increase which helps, so rather than withdraw I decide to back off on the bike, so I can at least begin the run and then see what happens.

Bike target was 05:50:00 but 06:12:00 is ok. Avg speed:18mph

I believe (and expect to have it confirmed) that due to the dehydration, my body could not absorb the glucose properly, possibly from a liver malfunction. So a lesson learned for
all, drink, drink and drink some more.

Belinda Granger (in her 11th year) said the bike conditions were the slowest that she had
experienced at Roth. It doesn't detract from my disappointment of hitting my time goals, but it does help explain some of the difference.

T2 03:33

Out of the bike shorts and more lotion rubbed into me whilst I try to get my head into the right place.

Run 42.2km 05:09:47

Believe it or not I am actually looking forward to the run. I have worked really hard for 6 months with Coach DJ and I have improved massively. So I am set for a 4hr marathon, which is an achievable goal.  I start the run and it quickly becomes apparent that this may actually be an unachievable goal, but I refuse to accept it. I take inspiration from the pros who are passing me in the opposite direction heading to the finish. I see the pain and effort etched into their faces, so it is time for me to dig deep. 'Biodh an misnech' is a Gaelic phrase I have tattooed on my leg (it means Have the Courage) so it is time to zip up the man suit and fight the urge to slow down.

The minimal cloud cover that has been present for most of the bike rolls away just in time for the run, and it is going to be a hot one. My blood sugar levels are slightly up at around 4mmol's. For non-diabetics they would be 6ish and collapsing can happen at about 2mmol's, so I needed to keep a close watch on them. I decide to walk every aid station and get as much liquid down as possible. They are giving out half full 300ml cups of coke, water or iso drink and soup. Soup, in this heat?? Madness!. I end up grabbing either the iso or water and by adding it to a coke this works well and stays down. Unfortunately I am still very dehydrated.

I back off  the 9 min miles after about 3 miles and settle into 10's and then 11's. The aid station 'walks' are also becoming longer as the course progresses and cramps are setting in all over my body. Even in my forearms, I didn't know they could cramp!

The climb back into Roth with 4km to go is hard, although it probably isn't even that steep. Then with relief, I am into the last 3km around the town. Passing the spectators cheering from their beer tables is amazing and it is quite surprising how much that lifts me. It is the final kilometre and am approaching the finishing chute when I see Kay. She joins me and we run down the chute side by side giving a few high-fives to the crowd cheering from the
stands either side. As I see the MTSC shirted supporters and the Irish flags waving frantically. I cross the line with Kay hands raised, before almost collapsing into her arms. Another memory that will never fade.

Finish 226km 12:29:00


I didn't hit my 11hr goal time but am ecstatic to have finished, as I know doing the distance is something everyone should be proud of and I am pretty chuffed with certain elements of my performance. Swim was where it should be, bike was fairly well paced -
and the consensus seems to be that the wind made the bike a lot harder than normal, maybe 10-15 minutes slower. The run was bad, very bad, but I survived. I had many internal arguments about ditching my number and binning the whole thing, 'Biodh an misnech' was my response. So thankfully I didn't although it was a close call.

My blood sugars remained low throughout but again I am still here. On reflection to continue was a dangerous decision to make and it could have easily gone very wrong, There were quite a few scattered bodies on the run all receiving attention and it would not have been nice to be counted among them, If another diabetic had told me this story on the run, I would have tried to stop them. For me I think it was the right decision. I had trained for things like that and made allowances in my training for 'What if's. Unfortunately that all came into play but things go wrong in all races, especially in ones of this distance. You have to be flexible and adapt. If you can't adapt you won't finish. I was flexible and did

I probably should have gone to the medical tent to get rehydrated (I didn't wee for quite a few hours after and felt very rough for a few days) but I was slightly distracted by the communal changing/shower rooms....a very strange experience.

Roth as a race is amazing and probably the best experience you are likely to have at a long
distance triathlon. The spectators were unbelievable and I am sure we all have loads of stories about our individual interactions with them. The banter, support and help from the fellow MSTC team out there were great and David Jones's coaching is inspiring. But most of all the love and support from Kay is as always amazing I am a very lucky man.


The water laps your toes and envelops your skin. Close your eyes. The masses become silent and your heartbeat thunders. You have planned for today, talked about today, trained for today, imagined today, dreamed today, and yet you still don't know what to expect.

A cannon blows and you remember, as you dread the uncertainty and the harsh duration to come, to savour every second because in your memory it will be over in the minutes it takes to recount or reread from your journal. 

Move, breathe, drink, eat. Move, breath, drink, eat. Move and move. One hundred and forty and six-tenths miles. Know tenderly, intimately every fibre of your being that propels you forward only because your brain says. 'Don't stop.' And don't stop. Move, breathe, drink, eat. 

Manage your day. Stick to your plan. Be flexible. Just finish. Float when your mind and body detach and watch your body move without you - pushed by the crowd, the volunteers, who lust for your finish as if it were their own. 

But it hurts. And you don't know for sure why you're doing this and what it will mean when you do. And then you see it. A banner, a clock, a frenzy of applause. And you know you made it happen through whatever means and power source you draw strength from. 

Ironman trivializes past hardship and prepares you to minimise those to come. It makes dreams come true. We all have what it takes to bridges aspirations into accomplishments. Crossing that line embraces self: confidence, sacrifice, reliance, invention, worth. Finishing makes you your own hero. 

                                                        From some book I read on the journey.


Challenge Roth 2012 - In a nut-shell

/media/21370/Roth Team.jpg

This is an initial overview of the day a more in--depth report to follow

Weather and conditions

Water temperature 22.9 degrees. At 23.0 degrees they would have banned wetsuits apparently. Forecast light wind and cloudy skies with sunny intervals plus rain in the afternoon. In fact, it was windy for the cycle but stayed dry all day. It was roasting hot for the run so atheletes stuffed wet sponges under their tri-suits to keep cool.


Inevitably, one mulls over the seconds and minutes squandered with errors and misfortune. Over the coming months we will all calculate how much smaller our finish time could be next time. 

Jamie is a modest uncomplaining fellow but must have been very disappointed to find his Spinergy front wheel was not Roth-legal. He had to make do with my spare wheel that he had never used before.  This replacement wheel rode a bit lumpy and the brake surface was uneven apparently. An amateur debut Iron-distance sub-11 hour finish is almost unheard of, so Jamie is very worthy of his best-in-club performance in this race. 

Jim(yours truly) wasted time by going astray and nearly missing the swim exit. Should have done the homework.

Storming bike. A dream-like cycling experience with glorious surface and beautiful terrain plus thousands of adoring supporters. Bike performed brilliantly. Wish I had a helmet-cam so I could watch it over-and-over again for spin sessions.

Got severe abdominal pains and diarrhea throughout the run. Maybe just too many gels and probably too many of the caffeinated variety. Did most of the run with heart-rate in zone1, trying to get digestion sorted. This had the benefit of avoiding dehydration and exhaustion, so it was a strong enjoyable finish. This run time was 46 minutes slower than standalone marathon time, unfortunately.

Nevertheless, well pleased with a sub-11 hour finish. 

Anthony displayed enormous grit and determination to finish a few seconds under 12 hours. This brave effort was rewarded with an intravenous drip.

Anthony was hugely disadvantaged by starting in the final wave with all the slow athletes. This meant a bike racking location far away from the swim exit, so T1 was always going to be slow. Lack of good swimmers to draft off meant a slow swim time.

Ant's cycle was excellent with a sub-6 hour time for the 112 miles. That new bike was worth every penny.

A decent run despite hot weather and digestion troubles.

A sub-12 hour finish for a debut Iron-distance race is awesome for anyone who is not an ex-pro cyclist channel swimmer from Australia. A good day at the office.

John had a solid swim in approximately his target time, 1:13. His day was messed-up by a puncture early in the cycle that de-railed his effort to go sub-11 hours. The pit-stop puncture repair failed and the tyre change ran into problems that exhausted John's CO2 supply and he did most of the ride on a semi-flat.

Despite the bad luck, John's 6:31 cycle and 4:30 run resulted in a fast finish time of 12:22.

Steve Mac was immense in the swim and was the only "purple-head" I noticed overtake me. He started the cycle with a 20-minute lead on me and many other "black-heads" from my wave. These are the swim hat colours, by the way.

Steve's cycle was excellent despite severe low blood sugars. But for that set-back, his cycle time could have been exceptional.

The run was a disappointment for Steve because of serious nutrition and digestion issues. This prevented him achieving his goal finish time by a very large margin. Nevertheless, this short-12hour finish is really good.

Steve B did a fast swim as expected, 1:08. This was followed by a fast ride of 6:04, which presumably he thoroughly enjoyed.

All nicely poised for a great finish time, but things went less well on the run which took at least an hour longer than planned.

Nevertheless, this was long-12 hour finish that many triathletes could only dream of. Considering the terrible stress and worry caused by an RTA a few days earlier, this is a result to be proud of.

Claire did a good swim of 1:20 and completed all but the last few kilometers of the cycle. The cycle had become really tough for Claire because of a nasty soft-tissue strain/tear/injury of the leg. Claire would have made the cut-off time for the cycle completion but there was no way she could have run with that leg problem.

Claire had no choice but to withdraw from the race. She had nothing to prove, having previously completed an Ironman. Best to get the injury healed and compete another day. Commiserations. Rotten bad luck that could have happened to any one of us. 

Beyond the Race

Those of us competing are so lucky to have had the opportunity, thanks to the great support of family, friends and our hosts at the terrific accommodation. Well done to several people at MSTC who put in a lot of effort to make all this happen.

Biggest thanks go to my lovely wife, Helen, for giving me her blessing to do this event.


place AG place name Swim Trans 1 Bike Trans 2 Run Total
855 187 Goodhead, Jamie (GBR) 01:06:40 00:02:40 05:33:30 00:02:50 04:08:19 10:53:58
904 115 Dr. Graham, James (GBR) 01:16:59 00:03:06 05:37:03 00:02:58 03:57:06 10:57:11
1633 381 Grey, Anthony (GBR) 01:17:06 00:06:27 05:57:50 00:04:18 04:33:54 11:59:34
1817 332 Webster, Jonathan (GBR) 01:13:00 00:03:18 06:31:36 00:03:42 04:30:48 12:22:21
1869 340 Mcmenamin, Steve (IRL) 01:00:05 00:03:37 06:12:00 00:03:33 05:09:47 12:29:00
2043 438 Birchall, Stephen (GBR) 01:08:08 00:04:55 06:04:56 00:03:17 05:31:34 12:52:48
0 0 Cresswell, Claire (ENG) 01:20:44 00:04:40




Race Reportby Jim Graham


ETU Championship 2012


Over 3,200 individual participants and 650 relay teams from 62 nations will take part in the "best old race". They will be cheered on by 180,000 spectators along the course and at the Triathlon Stadium. The race starts at 6.30am with the 3.8km swim in the Main-Donau-Canal, and continues with a 180km bike and the final 42.2km marathon run. 

You can follow there day at: http://www.challenge-roth.com/en/index.html 

The Challenge Family app is available for free download by searching for "Challenge Family" at either http://play.google.com for Android phones or from the Apple App Store through iTunes for iPhones. 

Live race updates, athlete tracking, race maps, results and images are all at your finger tips and any number of athletes can be added to the watch-list function to quickly check for current standings split times and even where to be to support them out on the course. 

There is also a cool app on Facebook that when the athlete signs up to it their splits will automatically be written to their wall.

Number                                                           Start

853      Cresswell, Claire (ENG)              W35      06:45

1482     Goodhead, Jamie (GBR)            M40      07:10

1737     Dr. Graham, James (GBR)         M45      07:15

1941     Webster, Jonathan (GBR)          M45      07:20

2350     Mcmenamin, Steve (IRL)            M45      07:30

2747     Birchall, Stephen (GBR)             M35      07:35

3124     Grey, Anthony (GBR)                 M40      07:45

Ant is raising money for Sussex Autism Support through Kangaroos. He would be really grateful if you were able to sponsor me for this event. Donation link is: www.JustGiving.com/AnthonyGrey


Outlaw Ironman 1st July 2011

The Journey

Why I decided to do an Ironman?  Many many people asked me this question, but the best answer I can find is, 'Why not?'  After reading a few books about inspirational people (Rosie Swale Pope to name one) and how far you can push your body, mind over matter etc I wanted to put this to the test.  I'm from a running (I use the word 'running' loosely) background, starting running in 2008 I did the Great South Run, then progressing in 2009 to a few half marathons, and Tough Guy, onto 2010 and some Marathons, Tough Guy and a couple of Olympic Tris.  I think you can see a pattern emerging here, I enjoy challenging myself and pushing myself to new and ultimately longer distances.  After going on Runners World and speaking to the pirates (a group of lovely likeminded people on the forum who love triathlon, and helping others on their journey) I fell in love with their crazy ways, and their fantastic attitude to Ironman.  Not only that, but to have friends along the way and out on a course which ultimately is a lonely sport, gave me the push to sign up for the Outlaw...why not eh?  I told my Mum and Dad, they thought I was mad, supporting me all the way but I could see they thought I had gone bonkers and was potentially going to kill myself!  I told my ex, and many friends, who also thought I was insane, but know me well enough to know what I'm like, and that I would do this regardless.  So in January my training started in earnest.  Apart from my 25 mile rides for the Oly distances, I was rubbish on a bike, so I decided to sacrifice most of my run training to get out on the bike as much as possible... this turned out to be exactly the right thing to do.  Plus with 5 marathons under my belt by April this year, I knew I had it in my legs to do one (or at least I was mentally prepared for what I would face on the run).  Swimming I was slow but comfortable with, but I knew I needed help so I joined Mid Sussex Tri Club, who have been amazing.  Supportive and helpful, but also and maybe most importantly just as crazy as me.  When I told them I was doing an Ironman, they didn't have that 'your crazy' look in their eyes that everyone else did, instead they gave me valuable help and advice (Steve Mac and Phil Knock to name just a couple who gave me so much invaluable information)  So with a not too structured training plan (and nutritional plan of pot noodles and bananas) I was good to go.


The Build Up

The week leading up to the race I was really excited, but when I got to HPP on Friday and registered, I started to become terrified.  I just couldn't bring myself to even think about it, as I thought I might hyperventilate.  On Saturday I racked my bike, put my bags into transition (after checking them several million times) and went back to the campsite.  Later on Mum, Jess the piratedog and myself went to track down some pirates.  We came across a lovely circle of pirate folk , and chatting to them really calmed my nerves.  When I got back to the tent I read a couple of race reports, but it was a verse taken from a book at the end of Steve Macs race report from Switzerland that completely calmed me down and made me think 'Just enjoy it what will be, will be'.  So I slept solidly from about 11 to 3.30, result!  I even snoozed the alarm a couple of times.  Lots of porridge and a banana and I was all set.  Calm on the outside, complete bits on the inside.  I took my mp3 player down to the lake and amongst the chaos I put my earphones in, shut away the world for 7 minutes 19 seconds, closed my eyes and listened to Muse 'Citizens Erased'.... I was ready to race.  Hug to Mum, and as I'm about to go through to the starting bays my Dad arrives and gives me a big hug too!  Its great to know they are both there to watch.





The Race

Swim 1.32.40

I stay at the back of Bay 2, which turned out to be a great idea, as everyone swam off ahead I had no kicks or punches.  As everyone met before the first buoy it became a little more crowded but again no problems, and even a few feet to follow.  My aim was just to relax, enjoy it, and use it as a warm up...expected time 1.30-1.40.  It took me until about 1000 mtrs to settle down (there are signs with the distance all along the lake) and the cramp in my right calf was actually a blessing, as I then stopped using my legs completely, stretched out my stroke and really relaxed, the turn around point came quickly, and with it I even overtook a few people!  On the leg back my mum, dad & Jess were following  me along the bank (Jess even jumped in the lake at one point!), It was great to see them every 6th stroke, and when I had to clear my goggles I would give them a little wave, and get shouts of encouragement back.  Out of the water in 1.32.40 and chuffed to bits.


T1  9.28

Nothing special, change of clothes, arm coolers on, toilet stop and out to bike.  Probably would have saved a couple of mins if I hadn't faffed about with arm coolers but it doesn't really matter.


Bike 7.09.28

Loved the bike!!  This was the part I was most worried about, as I felt least experienced, and so much could potentially go wrong.  But for some reason, whether it was all the training, I was just having a 'good day' or the reason I most like to think...that my granddad was giving me a big push from up above, whatever it was it worked!  I had done two laps in training and found Oxton bank a bit painful the second time round, but on the day I powered up it, laughing my head off at the pirate signs (It's not a knitting club being my favourite...so true!) and was just really really excited to see the pirates for the first time, they didn't disappoint, with their big smiles and cheers...legends!!  Down to Southwell and was so excited to see Mum and Dad... scanning and scanning all the crowds and fantastic people cheering, turn right at the mini roundabout..and there they are, YAY!!  I REALLY want a banana...my Dad is holding out a sandwich, I keep shouting banana, banana!! but no banana appears, incredibly amusing, poor Dad left holding a sandwich, and my Mum taking photos of me shouting banana, love it!!  No problems, was amazing just to see them, and I'll get a banana at the next aid station.  At this point I should point out that I'm eating Cliff shot bloxs every 30 mins, but my poor stomach is not in a good mood, and every time I swallow them I puke them back into my mouth (nice!) I force them down but it's not pleasant, at one point some poor fella behind sees me puke half a chocolate mini roll up onto the floor (sorry!).  I get to the next aid station...banana please!  I fly past at 20mph and drop the banana, darn it!!  Lesson learnt!!  Luckily the pirates save the day on loop 2, not only do I get banana from them, but also banana from Dad (he's well prepared this time) and even sandwich and banana combo on the 3rd loop.  My stomach settled down about halfway round the bike course, and I then I knew I would finish the bike.  Many people, including some of the really fast people gave lots of support on the bike which was gratefully received, and I shouted as much encouragement back as possible.  With my lack of real experience on the bike I didn't know how my legs would hold up.  I expected to average 14/14.5 mph, and decided to just go at a pace I felt comfortable with, not looking at my garmin except the check the general time/distance.  I realised I was going faster than this, but as I felt comfortable would just go with it.  Coming in at 7.09 (15.6 mph average) and well over half an hour faster than expected was amazing.  Mum and Dad cheering me into transition gave me exactly the boost I needed to get those trainers on and out onto the run.


T2 6.04

Change of shorts, compression socks on, trainers & cap on, off I go...


Run 5.04.41

In my 'dream plan' I was to run a 5 hour marathon, never did I ever imagine I could do it (ok nearly 5 mins slower but I can cope with that).  It was hot on the run, and I knew I would not be able to push as hard as maybe I would on a cooler day, and had to be super aware of my hydration.  I started running, and although I felt a bit shattered my legs felt really fresh...work that one out!  I started running 10 min miles, which I was just happy to be able to sustain without any discomfort.  Walking though the aid stations and stuffing my face with crisps, flat coke, water, oranges I was happy, and even happier when I went through 6 miles in just over an hour.  My aim would be to run for as long as I was able to, walk the aid stations, and hopefully only have to walk the last few miles at worst.  My Dad ran a few of the river parts behind me, and also a bit of the lake.  This was lovely, and great to have him there, but I felt awful that I couldn't really hold much (any) conversation.  I just had to concentrate and stay in the zone to keep those legs turning over... but I think he understood!  There was so much amazing support on the run, you couldn't help but feel humbled by it all.  I also had to run past the finishing chute three times before it was eventually my time to turn down there...some might say this is slightly cruel, but the cheers from the grandstand were enough to lift the spirits, and watching others finish gave me the boost I needed to keep strong.  On Lap 3 I really had to dig deep, but instead of walking like I thought I might, I just kept at a steady pace (12 min/miles).  So with my determination I'm now at the last turnaround point and I guess around three miles to the finish.  I say well done to every single person I pass, and am smiling so much... I'm nearly home!  I round the lake for the final time, I can hear the man and lady on the loudspeaker shouting everyone home... name, you are an outlaw!  I smile every time I hear this, and all the other crazy stuff they are saying, I think they even sing happy birthday to someone.  I go past many men walking on the last loop, and give them as much encouragement as I can.  As I get onto the final straight I can hear the loudspeaker clearly again, someone has got less than a minute to get under 14 hours... I can't be hearing correctly, there's no way I've done it so fast, the loudspeaker again, 'Well done, you did it in 13.59 something' oh my goodness, I wasn't hearing things, I'm only a couple of minutes away now.  My Mum appears by the lake and starts shouting that I'm her hero, she is so proud and I can't believe I've nearly done it, I turn down the finishing chute and see my Dad, we high five, and everyone else wants a high five too, it's brilliant, I run down and lift the tape above my head and hear the announcer JADE, YOU ARE AN OUTLAW!!!!!   


Finish time 14.02.20


It still feels like a surreal dream, but it really was the best day of my life.  And I'm so glad I could share it with my Mum, Dad, Uncle Ali, Jess, the pirates, and know I had an amazing network of friends following and supporting me from their homes or on the live feeds.  My hard work and training really paid off.  My time was amazing (for me), and better than I could have ever imagined, but the best bit was that I enjoyed every moment of it, and got to share it with some very special people.  When I finished it I said I would never do it again, but my name already seems to be down for next years event.  I have a feeling the buzz of that finish line and the adrenaline is just to hard to resist......

Author: Jade Overy