2011 Ironman UK

Dave Mawhinney and Martin Goodlad took to the start line of one the biggest races in the UK with 1300 athletes toeing the line. Dave has raced this event twice before and both times obtained World Championship qualification by winning his age group and was hoping to repeat again. This was Martin’s first attempt at Ironman UK, but as a seasoned athlete and previous World Championship racer, he was hoping to win his 3rd world championship qualification. Both have produced reports on their epic journeys…

Dave: Is it really a year since IM UK 2010? Prior to this year’s race my aim was to break 11 hours for an Ironman race for the first time and after all the training going well up to the event, I was feeling confident.

The afternoon before the race, with a mixture of excitement and pre-race nerves, we were all off to rack the bikes in transition. As usual, the Merida Time Warp and associated TORQ equipment attracted the usual crowd of people with admiring glances. It really is an eye catching bike!

Dave exiting the swim

At 5am on race day I arrived in transition after the usual sleepless night, feeling relatively calm and eager for the race to get underway. It was with relief we were greeted with perfect race conditions; warm, light wind and good cloud cover. After loading up the Merida with my TORQ nutrition consisting of a mixture of TORQ gels and orange energy drink and making sure my Lake shoes were attached to the pedals, it was on with the 2XU V2 wetsuit. It was then time to join the queue to get into the water. And after a few minutes treading water we were off. The start was the usual mix of thrashing arms and legs, but after 600 metres I was able to get clear water and concentrate on getting onto someone’s feet to draft and save energy. After two comfortable laps, it was back to the start after a good swim for me of 1-01-37 (2.4miles).

Dave riding the Merida

On the bike I felt really strong and started to push my speed and cadence, but at the same time trying to keep my heart rate below 85%. Immediately I started to overtake people on the undulating stretch of road up to the start of the 3 laps. It was then on to the hillier section up Sheephouse Lane, which we had to go up 3 times and I had to ease back up the tough ascent to stop my heart rate going too high. Then it was over the top and down the fast descent at over 45 mph. Followed by the fast section of the course which (unusually) had a tail wind. After about 90 miles, both to Martin and my surprise, I caught up with Martin. We spurred each other on for a few miles before he started to pull away. Over the last 10 miles I was starting to feel tired and my quads were really starting to tighten so it was time for my last TORQ forest fruits gel with guarana to pep me up a bit. I was relieved to arrive at T2 in a fast time of 5-38-05 (for 112miles).

Off with the helmet on with the running shoes (only a marathon to go…) and it was onto the run hoping my legs wouldn’t stiffen up more. After taking it easy to begin with to let my legs recover from the bike, it was into a steady pace keeping my heart rate around 75%. The run consisted of an 8 mile stretch which took you near the finish, followed by 3 loops of 6 miles, which involved a tough initial climb that became harder as my legs started to tighten up.

Luckily I was able to keep a steady pace and it was a relief to hear the announcers at the finish line and to enter the finishing straight to be greeted by the noise of crowd and to reach the finish line in a time of 10hrs 29mins 42secs, a new Ironman pb. Finishing 91st overall and 3rd in my age group to book my place for the 2011 Ironman World Championship in Kona Hawaii in October, where I shall enjoy testing the Merida on the Kona lava fields.

Dave taking 3rd overall in his age group

Martin: After 7 months of preparation, the day finally came to step back into IM racing after almost a 2 year break. IMUK had been promptly entered back in October 2010 after staying up and watching the World Championships in Kona.

The UK course is known for the tough hilly cycle, therefore training had focused on this and after a pre-race cycle round the course I was confident that all would go well.

The swim was in Pennington Flash, a large reservoir/nature reserve and therefore flat water. I positioned myself on the front line ready for the off. The first few minutes of the start were the usual all-out thrash to get into clear water. After that, I settled into my steady pace and had a fairly uneventful swim. I increased the effort in the second lap to break-away from a few round me, and was pleased to be out of the water in 52:30 (an IM swim PB) 32nd overall.

Martin exiting the T1

Buoyed by the excellent swim, I had a superfast transition (19th best on the day) all thanks to the Lake tri shoes, and headed out onto the bike. I started off steady; as the Ironman is such a long day, and then built into my target power zones.

However, by halfway through the final 3rd lap, I was having a real low point (the pace was still there but horrible thoughts were going through my head), and then a guardian angel appeared! Well actually it was team mate Dave Mawhinney flying past me telling me to get my arse in gear. This was the turning point in the race for me, which gave me the focus to get going again. For the remainder of the 3rd lap we paced off each other (probably more like raced each other) to transition.

Into transition and another fast one (free time if you work at it…). I wasn’t sure how I was going to muster the energy to run a marathon. After the first 5minutes I was pleasantly surprised how the legs were performing and I had to hold myself back for the first 12k. I held a steady pace targeting a 3:15 marathon; which I hoped would give me chance of a Kona slot.

Martin IMUK run

Once the first 12K was complete, it was onto 3 x 10K loops from Bolton town centre on an out and back course. Great for mentally breaking the run down and also keeping an eye on where everybody else is. The laps went by fairly quickly and by the turnaround point on the last one I was still feeling good and saw that an IM run PB was on the cards. I upped the pace and posted a 45min 10K to round off the marathon. To finish in 9hrs 55min (Splits 52:30, 5:47, 3:10)

Feeling very happy that I had left everything out on the course, it was left to fate regarding the Kona slot. Unfortunately the competition was tough this year as I finished 9th in my age group and there were only 6 slots available. Obviously very disappointed!

I wasn’t down for long. By 9am the following Tuesday morning I had my entry in for Ironman Wales on the 11th September, a flatter bike course and sea swim which should suit my strengths and keep the Kona dream alive (although for 2012 now!).

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