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Race Reports 2011

Ironman Wales - Sunday 11th September 2011 (Charles Whelan)

Yesterday I completed Ironman Wales and thanks to your sponsorship we have raised c.£3,600. Enough to train and equip three lifeboat men.


Event Summary

Boy was it RNLI weather. The wind was a force 5 to 6 gusting 7 to 8 and the swell was >3 meters (well it is the remnants of Hurricane Katia). Fortunately the RNLI advised that the organisers move the swim from the surfing south beach to the comparatively calmer North Beach so the 1,500 starters could all get into the water before we met the really big waves. This combined with a favourable tide actually made the 2.4 mile swim fast so I got a PB on this of 1.10.

Unfortunately the change of beach venue meant that we had a very long (1km) run to our bikes through the streets of Tenby in our wetsuits which added about 5 or 6 minutes to times and extra effort to the legs. This transition took 10 minutes.

The cycle included some of the most spectacular scenery and exciting riding as we had tough climbs and 45mph decents, made all the more interesting with the very strong winds blowing people off their bikes as we went round. This was, to quote a veteran of 13 previous Ironmen I spoke to as we cycled, “the toughest Ironman cycle course I have been on”. The course cost me (and the rest of the field) up to an hour on our bike PB’s but we knew that before we arrived. The time 6:30 for the 112 miles. The great news was that I got the nutrition right so I finished the bike ready for the run unlike when I did the Iron distance race in Roth 9 weeks ago.

The second transition required a short break and then after 5 minutes I was off on the run.

Four 10.5k loops out of Tenby up the hill to the top of Saundersfoot and then back down, round the castle, through the streets and back up again. A total of 1,500 feet of climbing over 26.2 mile. This was going really well and I was looking at about a 3:45 marathon time until the start of lap 3 when I realised I had taken on too much food and drink in lap 2, I will spare you the details but needless to say I could not really take anything else on board till halfway through the final lap. The consequence of this was that my final lap in particular was really slow as I all but died on my feet due to lack of energy. I moved from competitor to completer as all I could do was to put one foot in front of the other for the last 2 miles, but I still ended up with a time of 4.05, another PB for an Ironman Marathon.

So all in all apart from the small hic-up in marathon nutrition (and nearly every competitor has some issue or another) the race went really well. I ended up 62nd out of 302 in my age group and 333rd out of 1,500 overall with a time spot on 12 hours. Whilst the time was not a PB the overall position certainly was.

Alison and the children had all travelled up to watch the race and gave me loads of much needed support, without their commitment over the last 8 months this would not have been possible. They even waited till I finished at 7pm before heading off home to get ready for school today. They got home at midnight. I got a massage ate some food and retired to our dry warm tent to enjoy a breezy night cosseted under canvas.

Thank you all again for supporting the RNLI, it was very helpful in getting me off my lazy backside and heading out for those final training rides, and more importantly the cash will make a real difference. Hopefully none of us will need their assistance in the near future, but I for one feel assured that when we or kids head out for a day’s sailing they are there if we need them.