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Ironman Uk 2018 (Bolton) - 15th July

27 Jul 2018 18:48 | Deleted user

By Alex Cole

I will start with one of the questions I was asked most in the lead up to the event...had I done a half Ironman before? The answer is no and I don’t think I would have learned anything more than I had done from standard distance Triathlons so don’t let that put you off! The basics are the same, you just need to train with longer distances.

One of the hardest parts is signing up, finding a realistic time frame and of course, a glamorous location!

We travelled up to the slightly more glamorous Harrogate where my Aunty lives for 5 days of relaxing before heading across to a Bolton hotel.  I thoroughly recommend this bit as I turned up to the start line the most relaxed I have been at an event.

The registration, bike racking and bag drops were seamless, a really well organised event and you realise that you are not the only “Ironman virgin”, in fact over half the pack were aiming to “become one”.

On the Saturday after racking the bike we drove away from T1 and followed the bike route loop to discover the more glamorous parts of Bolton...trust me! The roads led up to the moorlands surrounded by stone walls and scattered with sheep and cattle and I soon discovered that the elevation was more intimidating on the route map than in real life, nothing that really dwarfed any of our regular training spots on the forest.

The next challenge was getting an early night and some sleep but I did ok with this, the alarms went off at 2:30am and the hotel were serving breakfast from 3am to cater for the many athletes staying there so I ate far more than I normally would on a race day before heading to Pennington Flash nice and early for the 6am start. Tip - get there early, use the toilet facilities before the queues start!

The swim was a rolling start at 6am and you lined up based on your predicted times, again be ambitious with this as the last thing you need is to get caught up in traffic so i put myself in between the 1:10 and 1:20 posts. The water was clear and 23 degrees at 6am but still wetsuit compulsory and I kept myself relaxed and swam really well, a few whacks in the goggles and it got busy at the buoys and the Aussie-exit before jumping back in for the second 1900m loop.

I came out of the water after 1 hr 21 mins before taking a bit of extra time to make sure my feet were dry and I had fuelled up on some flapjack before heading out on the bike.  I was buzzing by this point to be honest, the sun had come up, the crowds were lined up from the swim exit and for the first couple of miles on the bike already and I started to get the feeling that I was going to do this…  

I felt good on the bike, I knew this was the longest discipline and probably my least strong so I went hard, I always seem to find a bit extra on race day and before I knew it I had taken on two of the big hills, shared high 5’s with some fancy-dressed crowds and was enjoying the inevitable descents. 

The 30 mile marker was a bit of a burst to the bubble as it meant two-thirds of the shortened course remained but with my head down I carried on and was soon at the start of the second loop and by then there were no surprises, just slightly more tired legs!

As the day went on the crowds got bigger and louder despite the course being so long, there must have been tens of thousands of people out supporting in the 25 degree heat.




I didn’t really have any concept of times but I felt that I had given everything I could to the hills of Bolton as I pulled in to T2, racked my bike and ran in to change footwear, a quick refuel and out on to the hot streets for 26.2 miles over 4 laps. In my mind this was a good thing as it broke the run down in to smaller chunks but after coming to the first hill in the park, it dawned on me that it meant we had to do that 4 times. There was a long stretch up Chorley Road which was covered in crowds and feed stations and you could see athletes heading back looking more tired than you which is reassuring but also a little disconcerting as I was yet to reach that point! 

I got chatting to fellow first timers as our runs became slower and the can do attitude got stronger, each lap you flirt with the 
finish line and hear those epic words being spoken as many crossed it.  This was the first sign of a clock too so I could see that my first lap was reasonable, second slightly slower but I could work out that I could afford to slow down a bit more and still achieve a good time so I kept digging in, starting to walk to the feed stations to get more fuel in the peak heat.

I got to stop and chat to my support crew too, the lovely Sarah who had supported me throughout my journey, putting up with the training hours, the early nights, the negative moods and turning them into positives and without her I would never have got to this point so I had to finish for me but I owed so much of it to her too.


And here we go, the magic carpet was just around the corner, spectators could count my wrist bands and see I was on the last straight and their cheers were louder and that inner reserve tank seemed to top me up for the final 800m, every hair stood up on my body and 

I heard the announcer say those words “Alex you are an Ironman”. An amazing personal achievement and I am so delighted but I honestly couldn’t have done it without the support of the club, my family and of course back to Sarah..one last surprise I had lined up was a proposal and I’m pleased to say she said yes! To getting in two years time married and to me doing another Ironman next year, result! 


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