A lot of people would baulk at the idea of doing an Ironman, Dave has now done 11 including the World Championship numerous times. Rather than chasing another championships, this race was about the challenge on home turf…
After the terrible weather conditions in Tenby for last year’s race (they had high winds, rain and cold temperatures caused by the back end of a hurricane which had hit the USA) and having watched last year’s race, I was inspired by the challenge to enter this year’s event, albeit hoping for calmer conditions come race day.
The race was a 7:00 am start and before the start all the wetsuited athletes were led from transition though the town and down to the swim start to the cheers of a very large crowd which was a nice touch. At the sound of the gun we all headed into the sea (all +1300 athletes – JE) which thankfully was calm. The first turn buoy was only 250m from the shore so there was a mass pile up and finding clear water was difficult.
The sea current was against us for the first 800m which made swimming difficult, but then for the rest of the lap the current was with us making the swim much quicker and after a swim time of 1 hour 1 minute, I was making my way up the ramp from the beach. Being able to get my Zone3 wetsuit off really quickly in spite of it being covered in sand really helped, so I managed start the 1 km run to transition without any problems.
With the wind having picked up and rain and cooler conditions forecast, I decided to take a bit more time in T1 putting on arm warmers and my cycle top, which later on was to prove a good decision!
The bike course is noted for being tough and hilly and it was hard going out into the westerly wind for the first 25 miles, but you were able to make time coming back before the main climbs of the first lap started. I made sure I took care with my nutrition taking regular drinks and gels. There was fantastic crowd support through all the villages, which was really encouraging. From the 40 mile mark, the route became very tough with numerous climbs – one near the end of the first lap at Wiseman’s Bridge with a 16% gradient, which was really energy-sapping, before the steep descent into Saundersfoot where the large crowd of supporters helped as you fought your way up another long hard climb out of the town. We then headed back into Tenby to begin the shorter second loop. After 70 miles it started raining, which made some of the tight descents very difficult and made me grateful that I’d put on my cycle jersey in the cooler conditions. The second climb out of Saundersfoot was very tiring and it was a relief to get back to Tenby and enter transition with a time of 6 hours 5 minutes.
After a fast T2, I was onto the run quickly and soon into my stride. The run course consisted of 4 laps, the first part being an outward section with a steep climb to the first turn, around point followed by a steep descent and a run through the winding cobbled streets of Tenby, before starting the next lap (a tempting 200 metres from the finishing line). Being cheered on by the large crowd was inspiring as I headed towards the finishing line after a 4 hour 2 minute marathon and to complete my eleventh and possibly hardest ironman to date in a time of 11 hours 24 minutes.
After a hard season, it’s time for a well earned rest!
With thanks to our sponsors:
www.wilier.it – Triathlon Frames
www.ffwdwheels.com – Aero Wheels
www.ritcheylogic.com – Aerobars, Saddles and Finishing Kit
www.cycleops.com – Power Meters
www.racezone3.com – Wetsuits
www.limarhelmets.com – Helmets & Glasses
www.lakecycling.co.uk – Cycling Footwear
www.jagwireusa.com – Cables & Housing
www.scott-sports.com – Running Footwear
www.shimano.com – Groupsets
www.triathlonspecific.com/Sable/Sable.html – Swim Goggles (Sable Water Optic)
www.max-mediagroup.co.uk – Team PR
www.amphibia-sport.com – Transition Bags
www.schwalbe.com – Tyres
www.lezyne.com – Pumps, Tools
www.champ-sys.com – Custom Trisuits and Cycle Wear