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Got a late entry to IM Wales via Nirvana Travel. A triathlon addict's impulsive last minute decision to race. Paid only a small premium for getting a place this way after the race had sold out. Would use Nirvana again if need be, because the package included a great hotel (a stone's throw from race start) and free cancellation insurance. The Nirvana rep organized a cycle course tour by car with a local cyclist as a guide.

Everything (Hotels, Expo, Registration, Briefing, Transition, Swim) is in one place at Tenby. Straightforward drive from Sussex. Totally hassle-free. The locals are super-friendly and take great pride in hosting the race.


The Swim

Near perfect conditions with calm relatively warm waters in the beautiful Bay. Mass beach start then an unfussy 2 lap swim, punctuated by a short dash along the beach between laps.

The run to T1 is 1.3km through the centre of Tenby. Longest transition run of all ironman races. An extra transition bag for shoes is racked at swim exit in order to do this 1.3km run. Last year an elite competitor lost his Kona slot because he handed his wetsuit to his girlfriend on the way to T1 and therefore got DQ'd after he had finished the race.


The Cycle

Very scenic ride on mostly closed roads in a coastal National Park. Some opportunities to make the most of a TT bike during the first 50 miles, but after that the course is particularly hilly and technical with some very steep winding downhills. My brakes were inadequate in the wet on those steep sections, so lots of time was lost by having to be over cautious.

Biggest mistake of the day was leaving my nice warm jacket in T1. It rained several times during the ride and by mile 50, I was freezing and shaking uncontrollably. To have accepted outside assistance might have risked a DQ. Fortunately, I discovered that I had got a plastic cape in my pocket (as you do), so I put it on to get warm. Ruined the aerodynamics somewhat. During the ride, I heard onlookers shout "go batman". After the race, I heard people chatting about a cyclist wearing a bin bag who had become known as "the bubble".

Tenby has a "heartbreak hill" that is almost as good for crowd support as Challenge Roth. Tenby has half the competitors and less than half the crowd numbers but the vibe is superb.


The Run

Barely a flat section on the four lap course. Lots of lively crowd support through the town, passing pubs and hotels. Plenty of walking uphill and running downhill. Good banter between athletes and plenty of switchbacks to keep spotting people. Lots to take one's mind off the usual drudgery of the ironman run. Ideal cool temperatures and dry conditions for this part of the race. Got a bit confused at the end of the third lap and took a wrong turn towards the finish line. Had to double-back a few hundred metres to restart the fourth lap. Great joy visiting the finish for the second and final time.


  • 20 DQ'd for dropping litter
  • 10 DQ'd for drafting
  • 4 DQ'd for failing to serve a penalty

Not a fast time for me (almost 2 hours slower than my Lanzarote effort a few months earlier). Not surprising, considering the neglect of training during 3 weeks backpacking in Sri Lanka (got home just in time to taper 2 weeks before IM Wales).

Loved the race and loved the location. Usually, as I cross the finish line I swear I'll never do another ironman. This time I immediately rebooked the hotel for next year and paid the registration fee as soon as entry came on-line a few days later. Upgraded brakes and a warm cycling jacket should make Tenby 2014 even better.



Overall Rank:582





AK M50-54

















Jim "Bubble" Graham