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Ironman UK, 19th August 2007

Big hole plus 50mph equals big damage
Crack - £700 please
Start of the run


Just before 6am and I'm standing next to the lake in my wetsuit, cap and goggles ready to jump in for a swim. Announcer said all competitors must go into transition for the walk down to the lake so I wander back to transition as they asked. Got there and was told I couldn't just hop over the line of tape they'd put across to hold everyone back and I'd have to walk all the way around the change tend and transition to join the back. A short argument later and I hopped over the tape. Standing there they told us the start would now be delayed 15 minutes because many people hadn't arrived yet, I assume it was because we'd been asked to park outside the grounds to keep the castle grass looking nice.

Fifteen minutes later we were lead down to the lake side through loads of mud then into the lake. It was cold, cold enough to give me a dizzy head and cause me lots of breathing problems. For some reason I seemed unable to take in a breath but it's about a 600m swim out to the start so plenty of chance to warm up and get used to it. By the time I was out there I was OK and felt ready for the off. Problem was they kept us treading water for about 20 minutes so I got real cold. The bones I'd broken a couple of years ago were getting very sore and my hands and feet were complaining a lot. The announcer said the starter was about to be collected from the shore and taken out to the start line, I have no idea what the reasons behind this were but there was plenty of shouting and moaning going on in the water.

After what seemed like a long-long time the hooter went off and the race was on. The usual scrum went on for the first few hundred metres then things settled and spread out. It was all uneventful other than to say it seemed there was a bit of a current in the water, making it harder to swim out to the turn buoy and easier to swim back (as this is the direction the water flows through the lake). Got out and walked back through the mud to T1, composed myself and took things very easy then set off for the bike.

Swim: 1:29:14 – Position: 1113th T1: 8:35


The plan for the bike was to take things very easy and plod it out with a HR in the 130's and once over Sherborne Hill I calmed things down and settled in for the ride. Everything was going to plan with feeding going well until the first descent off of Giants Head at about 30 miles or so. At 52mph I clouted a pot hole and my wheels let of an enormous clang. I knew straight away something had happened so fearing I'd punctured I eased up and kept things under control, stopping in someone's front drive and investigated the damage and saw this: Checked the front and the same thing but a little smaller. Various waves of emotion went through me, firstly anger and breaking my wheels, then rage that the year wasn't getting any better then sadness that the race was over, can't continue on dangerous wheels with 80 miles to go. Knowing there's no point in waiting for the sweep van I decided to slowly coast back to the castle and watch the race around me. The leaders went past at this point, first Rhodes then about 15-20 minutes later Neyedli and the others. They were flying and I was coasting very slowly.

I asked at the next feed station if there was a bike mechanic but unfortunately there wasn't. I wanted to ask if the crack made the wheels very dangerous and if they'd collapse from under me. But without advice I carried on and eventually made it to the turn point where you'd turn right the castle but found it all blocked off with hundreds of supporters cheering me on. Yes me, I was the only one on the course and they were all cheering me, that made it very hard to stop so I didn't, I carried on and rode past them starting my second lap. Once the crowd thinned out I stopped and asked a supporter if he knew anything about carbon wheels. Luckily he was a Zero2Hero chap, inspected the wheels and said he'd carry on if it was him. He was pretty brutal with them and showed me how strong they still were. So I carried on with the intention of getting to Lyons Gate and chatting to PaulL about it. Not sure how he could have helped but he's wise so worth chatting to, he was also at a turn off point where I could cycle back to the castle around the back lanes away from the crowd.

On the way down to Middlemarsh I cycled up to a woman balling her eyes out, really crying a lot. I rode beside her and asked what was wrong. She said she's not going to make the cut off, it's taken her to long to ride the first lap and allowing for fading she'd not make it back. She was also coughing a lot but I put that down to her crying. We chatted a bit about her feeding and other possible reasons for her emotions and it turned out she'd had bronchitis a few weeks earlier and because she couldn't find anywhere to stay in Sherborne she had to camp. Because of the really wet weather it bought a return of her bronchitis. She said she wanted to turn back to the castle but there were to many people cheering so she carried on. We had a laugh as that was the only reason I was still on the course and I advised her to seek out PaulL if she wants to go back to the castle down the back roads then left her to it.

A few miles later we got to Lyons Gate and, very luckily for me, Andy (redbiker) was taking photos. I stopped and asked him about the wheels, he inspected and said the same as my zero2hero friend, that they're broke but they'll not fail before the end of the race. So with this I set off full of adrenalin. With a tail wind I thought riding to Dorchester fairly hard would be OK, heart rate around 155bpm which is my 100 mile time trial pace. Once around the back of the course I continued with that pace then starting the last lap I increase the pace again, heart rate now up in the high 160's. I must admit, it felt really good to be going so fast amongst slower riders (obviously the other people were pacing themselves wisely and not hammering out their anger). Eased off on the final bit of the course in readiness for T2.

Bike: 7:19:40 – Position: 980 T2: 4:40


I expected to get a drafting penalty in T2, a car with a video camera had filmed me slowly over taking someone going up the climb to Giants Head, I was probably in the box for to long so expected a penalty. I'd spent most of the last lap rehearsing what I was going to say, it's wrong to moan at the marshals but someone was in for an ear bashing and I said if I got a penalty I'd DNF and tell them what I thought of the race. But my bag was where I left it the day before so I collected my things and put my runners on. Exiting the change tent I saw Michele standing just outside so stopped and told her about the wheels and we discussed the various options about fixing them and the cost. Not sure how long I was there but set off for the run expecting my legs not to work as I'd pushed quite hard on the bike.

To my surprise they worked but after the first mile or so they went numb. I suspect this is a result of my recent back/hip problems and I'd taken a couple of pain killers at the end of the bike leg to allow for this. I didn't expect my legs to go numb so decided I'd see how things went while I was within the castle grounds and if it was still bad at the turn to leave the grounds I'd stop. But again, things settled and there was no reason to call things off as I left the castle and headed for town. I was actually feeling pretty good even though I wasn't putting in much effort. I run the flats and down hills and walked up the worst of the hills and was averaging around 11 mins a mile if you included the times I'd stopped to chat.Got to the 13 mile marker at 2:32 which I was happy enough with. Met up with RobT on the duel carriageway and spent the rest of the run larking about and chatting about this and that. For the last lap I thought I'd see if I could catch Ray but he was to far in the distance and I only made two or three minutes on RobT so hardly in hunter-kill mode!

Run: 4:47:30 – Position: 884
Total Time: 13:49:48


A personal worst Ironman time but a personal best marathon split. A very strange race and I'm not sure how I feel about it. I couldn't be bothered with any of it but circumstances led me through the course and to the finish line. I covered the course with relative ease and didn't experience any hardship all day. Maybe that was because of the slow pace for part of the first bike lap or because I wasn't anxious about it. This is the first race I've used gels which worked very well and I proved to myself I can hold a hard pace and still run as long as I feed properly (even though I didn't eat for the part of the lap I coasted). The repair bill for the wheels is set to top £700 which stings a lot but I thank my lucky stars that I wasn't on clincher wheels and the wheels/tyre held together. Although it's a lot of money the alternatives aren't worth thinking about and £700 seems a small price to pay to avoid crashing at speed. There's still a lot wrong with the race and I can't be bothered to go on about it, there seems little point and although I said I wouldn't do the race after the 2005 race this time I really mean it.

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