Ironman UK 19th July 2015

In Which There’s No Happy Ending

Friday 17th July

Leaving it late as always, I chose two days before the Ironman triathlon to try on my wetsuit that Ironman Tony had given me. It was too small. At least I had plenty of time to find a new one, eh!

Today was registration, race briefing and expo day. Myself, Sarah, Tony and Susan made our way to Bolton with Tony driving. We parked up at Reebok Stadium (Macron Stadium now) and found the registration tent. (Wasn’t hard, it was quite big.) 

I handed over my I.D. and received my race stuff in this:


Awesome rucksack!

They also put this on me to mark me as an entrant:

  I went to the Scope stand (the charity that I’m racing for) and had a bit of a chat with them. They gave us a load of supporters tshirts and banners and stuff which was nice of them.

Tony had told me I’d be able to get a bargain on a new wet suit at the expo so found someone selling them and tried one on. The only changing area they had was a tiny, tall tent, probably around a metre square, with nowhere to sit and nothing to hold on to. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried on a wetsuit, but that wasn’t ideal conditions to put one on… Even harder when I took it off and I almost went over, with the wetsuit around my ankles! Anyway, it fit and I handed over £82. (Checked later on the website and the same wetsuit was £189, so it was a bargain!)

Bought myself a race number belt and an official Ironman UK 2015 tshirt with my name amongst everyone else’s.

After the expo it was time for the race briefing where they went through the rules and regulations and had a few guests talking about stuff. It went on for like an hour. 

After that we went for food and I had a mixed grill. Quite nice too.

Saturday 18th July

I woke up with a stiff back. Must’ve slept funny. Hurt a bit getting down the stairs but wasn’t worried. Spent the morning getting all my kit bags ready. They give you four bags, one to carry your stuff there, one for between the swim and the bike, one for between the bike and the run and one ‘special needs’ bag which you fill with anything you might need when in the bike. As the bike was two loops, you went by the needs bag twice. I filled it with gels, cereal bars, cans of coke and ham and cheese croissants. 

One of the coolest things they give you is race tattoos for your arms. I put these on too.

Then Tony arrived and we loaded up and set off back to Bolton where you needed to go rack your bike and hand in your race bags.

Went to Pennington Flash first where the swim would take place and the cycling would begin. I got out the van and my back was worse. It was a bit painful to walk. Ah well, I was sure it’d pass.

Here was where I dropped off my blue bag which contained my cycling stuff (helmet, gloves, shoes, gels etc) and racked my bike next to my number. 

Got my timing chip and then we went to Reebok stadium to drop off my red (run) bag. I was still stiff and sore so after dropping off my bag I took advantage of one of the masseurs (not like that!) Told her where the pain was and she concentrated on that area. It chuffing hurt. I told myself I’d be back to normal in the morning, but I wasn’t convinced.

Home, then, and an early night (half 7!) as I was getting picked up by Tony at 3am!

Sunday 19th July – Race Day

All the months of training had led to this day. All the hours or swimming, cycling or running instead of being in the pub or asleep had led me here. To today.

I didn’t sleep well due to the pain in my back. It hurt getting out of bed and when I was getting dressed it hurt so much I let out a cry of pain. Decided to see how I was when we got to Bolton.

Tony arrived just after 3am and I told him how I felt. Sarah saw us off and we drove the hour to Bolton pretty much in silence. Parked up at the stadium where there was a bus taking people to the start. They were taking athletes first so I told Tony I’d get there and find a medical tent to get looked at. The bus was full of nervous energy and anxious faces. 

Arriving at the swim start I went and had a word with a paramedic who prodded me a bit in the back of an ambulance.

“If you were just running a marathon today with this pain, would you go through with it?” He asked.

“Umm, probably not…” I replied.

“So you think you’ll run a marathon after swimming and then cycling 112 miles do you?”

“I… I don’t really know.”

He looked at me. “No, you won’t. You’ll end up causing lasting damage. I know it’s crap, but there’s always other races. Don’t do this one.”

I said “thank you” quietly and got out of the ambulance. I text Tony to say I wasn’t racing. I was gutted.

I met up with Tony, along with Sarah, Susan and Hannah and said I needed to go get my bag and bike. We walked back to the bus area as the announcer was shouting that Ironman UK 2015 had begun and everyone was entering the lake. It was a long walk back.

Busses weren’t transporting people back to the stadium until 9:30am so we asked at a hotel for them to call us a taxi. Not long later a minibus arrived with a taxi driving telling us to hurry up as, due to the road closures, he’d told the marshals that he had to pick up a pregnant woman so they’d let him through. On the way back he lied to every marshal to make sure we could get back through the road closures (bless him!) and he chatted friendly all the way. 

I approached the entrance to where I’d dropped my red bag the day before and it was pouring rain. I could see someone inside the expo tent so approached to ask about getting my bag back. A woman came out. This is actually the conversation:

Me: I’ve had to pull out of the race and am wanting to get my red bag back?

Her: What?

Me: (repeated the above)

Her: You’ll have to find a race organiser.

Me: Where is there one?

Her: At the swim start.

Me: Is there anyone here I can talk to?


Me: What?

Her: (actually ushering me out with her arms stretched out) PLEASE LEAVE THIS AREA.

Nice woman. (Is not the phrase Tony used to describe her.) We went round to the far side of the baggage tent to see if anyone was inside. There was, as it happens, a very friendly Welsh lad. I explained it to him and he said he’d ask his supervisor. I asked if it was the woman in the expo tent and he said ‘ah, you’ve met her then?’ I looked back at the expo tent and could see her looking over at us. 

He told us that she’s told him we have to wait until about 12 o clock for my bag. 5 1/2 hours away. While we were chatting her voice came over the radio.

Her: ARE THEY STILL THERE? (She could see us.)

Him: Yeah they are.


Him: (confused) No?


I thanked the Welsh guy and we went back towards the van. As we got around the other side, I saw a woman enter the tent area. She asked if we were ok and I explained. No problem, she said, I’ll get your bag. Before handing it over she checked it against my wristband and that was that. 25 minutes trying before she arrived, took about 2 1/2 minutes for her to sort it out. Cow from earlier watched us the whole time. Wish I’d stuck my middle finger up.

Drove home and updated my Facebook. Got lots of nice messages of support. Soon as it was an okayish time I started on the beer.

I was expecting to end the day as an Ironman, not recording a DNS (Did Not Start) but it wasn’t to be this time. So what now? Well, York marathon is just under 12 weeks away and I have no triathlons on the horizon. I want to start running again but my back is still killing me so can’t do that. Having a lazy few days. 

Thank you to everyone for your support throughout this journey, all the comments and likes I get seriously motivate me, but obviously now it’s not ended yet.

It won’t be ending until I’m an Ironman.


(Cue Rocky-esq training montage)

White Rose Classic Cycle

In Which I Ride And Ride And Fall And Ride

The White Rose Classic is a cycle sportive organised by the Ilkley Cycling Club, and therefore starts (and finishes) in Ilkley. There were three options of route: Short (50 miles), medium (84 miles) or long (114 miles).

I chose the medium route, and it turns out so did John (Sarah’s uncle) and Peter (Sarah’s uncle, not the same uncle as John, obviously) whereas Ironman Tony opted for the long route. (He changed for the medium route on race day to ride with me and his brothers.)

Tony picked me up Sunday morning and after we’d loaded up my bike we drove over to Ilkley (Ilkley rugby club to be precise). There are two feed stations on the medium route, but just incase I’d put two extra bottle cages on my bike behind the seat to make sure I had enough energy drinks.

(Race number 333: Number of a half Beast)

We could get going anywhere between 7:30-9:30 and we were on our way just after 8am. 

This report will be quite rubbish because all the hills and stuff kinda blur into each other. There was a decent hill around mile 10-12 where I had to have a breather halfway up before getting on with it and getting to the top. I think it was not long after this that there was a beautiful downhill section looking down on a reservoir and woodland area, which then led us towards Grassington and the first feed station. (This isn’t my pic of the reservoir, but it is A pic of the reservoir…)

The feed station was a welcome break as my right knee had been complaining quite a bit, but it wasn’t gonna stop me. They fed us up on pork pies and pasties, along with sweets and crisps and the chance to top up drinks bottles. Before long we were off again.

A steady section followed, and we followed the valley floor. Went by some massive rocky hills with people hanging off them (or climbing up them) and then we turned left into the rain and uphill, deep in the Yorkshire Dales. 

Thing about Yorkshire Dales is there’s plenty of cattle, so plenty of cattle grids. For the inexperienced rider, this might mean you’re out of the saddle on an uphill climb, and might mean your back wheel spins on a chuffing cattle grid. You’d then unclip, lose your leg down the cattle grid and go over with your ankle at a funny angle and wait for a snapping sound. 

This all happened, of course, to me. (Luckily all apart from the snap. But it was close!) John came to help me but slipped down the cattle grid too. Eventually we both got up with help from Tony and Peter, but I had to walk to the top of the hill from there to test my ankle. Seemed ok. The pain in my ankle took my mind of the pain in my knee at least!

Before long we arrived at the next feed station and the sun had come out. Filled up on more pork pies and pasties and had a coffee, then went and did the last third of the ride which I found tough. Plenty of big hills where I had to get off and push, but I kept going forward. Eventually Tony told me we were at the top of the last hill, and the last few miles were downhill or flat. Then before I knew it, we were done.

84 tough miles done. (Well, 80 tough miles and 4 easy). At the end we got a food voucher each so I had cottage pie. It was proper nice.

Massive elevation though! No way I’d’ve gotten through the ride without the support of Tony, John and Peter, or without the support of the pork pies. Also the support of Norman and Peters wife (Sarah) and daughters (Rachel n Mellissa) who cheered us on from a few different places. Oh wait! We got given a snood too at the end!

That’s pretty much all I can do with it…

Still looking for sponsors!! 12 days til Ironman UK!!! Argh!!!

Only time for one more blog update before the big day… Oh dear!