The event couldn't really have gone much better for me. The swim
was beautiful, a little choppy in places and I spotted a couple of
jellyfish low down, but you couldn't have hoped for much better
conditions considering it's the sea off Wales. I was really happy
with 1hour 13mins.
My bike speed isn't the best so I was worried about cut-offs but
I rode in the moment and enjoyed every part, even the hills,
amazingly, due to the incredible support from the hundreds of
spectators lining the sides. Adrenaline is an amazing thing. It's a
hard bike but seeing people sat in front of their houses or on a
sofa on a flat-bed farm trailer in a lay-by or banging pots with
wooden spoons really helps and they stayed put for even the slower
riders on their second lap so you feel as special as the fast
competitors. Again really happy with my time, a great feeling
knowing you're not going to be cut off and you'll be allowed to do
The bike has a deserved reputation for being hard but the run
lies in wait, quietly gloating, as it knows it's actually harder.
It heads out of town and then steeply uphill for probably a couple
of miles. Then back down the way you've come and winds round in a
maze through the crowded streets of Tenby. Four laps. Supporters
even on the further reaches of the run had music systems set up in
front of their houses.
I was determined to do the first two laps with no walking, hills
and all, except for water stations. Rose was in Personal Needs on
the run so I saw her every lap and she supplied what I needed
most... love and belief in me. I can't thank her enough for
selflessly supporting for over 15 hours, exhausting in itself.
She'd even walked out to Saundersfoot on the bike course to cheer
at the top of the hill for a brief moment as I passed and then
walked the 3 miles back.
Lap 3 of the run was dark. Literally it was getting dark, but
mentally too. My poor quads were shot from the bike effort. I took
the last painkiller and salt tab. My adaptive nutrition plan which
had worked wonderfully on the bike and until now was starting to
crumble. I developed a weird 'scratch' on the back of my throat
that made me cough to the point where I thought I might be sick. I
think it was the build-up of the intense flavour of the Powerbar
gels or a scratch from the one and only Dorito I had had at a Feed
station. I had to breathe through my nose to control the cough
reflex for a while until it passed. No gels from now on, for now
water for a bit and flat coke.
Loads of people were walking the long, long, long hill now but
I'm a bit bloody-minded and decided to run. I knew for me that to
alternate walk / run would be the start of a downward spiral to
just walking everything. I was like a slow snail creeping past
fractionally slower snails! Some of the slower snails sped off on
the downhill but others didn't. It mattered not as I wasn't
battling them... I hadn't walked… an internal fight won.
So no gels but I need energy still so it's tiny bites of banana
and tiny sips of coke and energy drink. I had to pop up a dark side
road for a wee so I'm OK hydration-wise so no more water, that will
Back in town on the second half of the third lap and Tenby was a
disco. The bike shop literally had disco lazer lights strobing the
street. In fact it was becoming a bit overwhelming. Once more past
the finishing chute seeing people enter it... but you're peeling
off for another lap.
But there's Rose again and it's the LAST lap! What a mental
pickup. I tell myself it's a lap of honour. I thanked every
supporter that I passed on the bike and now I thank these ones
doubly. It's raining and they're still out. Every tiny child on the
run wanting a high five has got one. Their excitement at that small
act is such a positive buzz that I feel like they transfer a small
bit of energy to me.
I'm running slow but OK. I'm not an Ironman yet but my quads
feel as hard as iron. My knees hate the downhills. ITB pain is
bearable due to the taping. I'm so happy it's the last lap,
everything's good now. There's even some chats to be had with other
last lappers and a few laughs. We're on the way home.
The finish chute is loud and red and a blur. I high five Paul
Kaye, he tells me I am an Ironman. I search for Rose, she's
there, but too much music and faces to see her so I cross the line
arms raised. I see Rose on the other side, there's hugs and a few
A long, long journey, four years since not finishing Bolton but
absolutely worth it. The last lap was definitely the last lap, it
doesn't get much harder than Wales, no need to do it again!