Double Enduroman (New Forest) - 11 & 12 June 2011
Two members of the club John Liebers and newbie Jim Graham have just completed the Enduroman double IronMan event in the New Forest which took place on the 11th & 12th June at the same time as the Deca Ironman event. Here are both their outstanding race reports:
Author 1: Jim Graham
The Enduroman Ultra Triathlon Championships at Avon Tyrrell in the New Forest was held for the first time. It was an intimate friendly small event compared to Ironman UK. The organisation was very good. The medal, finisher's shirt, food, drink, energy gels and goody bag (including t/shirt, beanie and buff headwear) were all first rate.
The location was good with a pleasant lake for the swim and a challenging hilly cycle course. Cattle grids, pot-holes and New Forest horses added to the difficulty. The run was hilly on soft ground that turned into a bog during the heavy rain that fell throughout the final day.
It seems that Enduroman like their events to be a bit tough, so it was never going to be an event for PB's. This course evidently turned out harder than anticipated as only 4 out of 20 entrants completed the deca-iron and the average finishing time for the single-iron was 16 hours 49 mins.
John Liebers completed the double-iron brilliantly in 34 hours 54 mins. John achieved consistently excellent times in all disciplines to finish 8th (despite coming off his bike to avoid a horse in the road).
Jim Graham did manage to register the fastest bike lap, as if ignorant of the fact that another 19 laps were required in addition. Jim finished 18th with a time of 37 hours 52 mins. A bit tired and wet by the end, with the last mile taking over 30 mins of trudging through swampy conditions in the dark. Only 25 of the 42 double-iron entrants completed the course.
The Enduroman organisers and marshals were fantastic. Recommended but best take the morning off work next day.
Don't even think about doing this event unsupported. Jim and John had a superb support team of Helen, Dave and Ben who all deserve medals for a massive effort. Much appreciated.
2ndAuthor: John Liebers
"30 seconds to the start...." Steve Hayward, the race director calls out from the jetty.
That's close enough... I set my watch alarm on 15min repeats then change the display back to chrono ready for the start.
I'd got up at 0430 that morning feeling fairly relaxed but without any certainty about how the next couple of days would unfold. However as I slipped off the jetty into the water and waded out something like a big electrical relay switch went 'CLUNK' in my head. I breathed in deeply.... "I'm here, let's get this done".
"5...4...3...2...1..." the klaxon sounds and we're off - Double Enduroman 2011; swim 4.8miles, bike 232 miles, run 52 miles.
I find my groove and slowly count off the swim laps. Each lap is just less than 300m round a small picturesque woodland lake. We come through a funnel system next to the jetty each time for the marshals to record our laps.
"71" I call out my number each time past. "71 confirmed". And a second marshal ticks off the lap.
The "20 laps completed" call agrees with my own mental tally and that of my support crew... only 6 to go. I was feeling good and a renewed energy anticipating the "last lap" call as I approached the jetty 5 laps later.
"2 laps to go..." What?... you're bloody kidding, I thought. I'm on my last lap you tosser.
I politely challenge the marshal. My race crew, who were race using a tally counter, question the marshal as well but to no avail.
Oh well... I got to swim 5 miles.
Okay, bike leg - not 232 miles but 20 laps. I refused to let myself think in distances... '232 miles followed by a double marathon'. I tried to banish these measurements of distance from my mind. Stay in the present and just count laps... 1 to 20, that's not so bad. For the same reason I'd taken my garmin off my bike... I didn't want a constant reminder about how far I'd gone and still had to go. Heartrate?... well I'd just try to keep the effort steady and comfortable. Besides I didn't want to be carrying any extra gear over that distance and the battery wasn't designed to last long enough anyway.
Late in the day, standing out of the saddle working my way up a short but sharp incline a car of young girls slowed to pass me, cheering and leaning out of the window. "Corrr... you've got a fit bum!" one of them called out.
Well that was a better lift than any sports gel. I had a shit-eating grin for the next couple of miles and amused myself imagining retelling the episode to my wife..."Yeah, they probably said you had a fat bum!"
The New Forest ponies though often standing adjacent to and sometimes in the road seemed pretty docile and for the most part ignored both cars and cyclists. Although initially wary when passing them I began to get complacent as the day went on.
Sweeping round a downhill bend I was suddenly faced with several horses trotting along either side of the road. I tried to scrub off some speed but not before a couple of horses veered across in front of me. Instinctively I jammed harder on the brakes... my back wheel skidding out beneath me. Shit... I was going to hit that horse in front of me. I released the pressure on my brakes to regain control of my bike and somehow managed to miss the horse but only by riding onto the embankment at the side of the road. As I came off my bike I thought my race was over.
I took the impact on my left shoulder and upper arm but thankfully onto soft ground. I'm okay...saddle's twisted about 70' but my bike seems okay...wheels good. Easton wheelsets are renowned for being bloody bombproof. In my haste I get on my bike and carry on. Thank goodness for that - I must concentrate.
The road sweeps downwards along a fast section of the course and I make the most of it leaning into the bends. Johnny - you arse! You've just crashed your bike and you haven't even checked it over properly. I slow down and pull over and give it a proper once over. Wheels true, quick releases secure, callipers aligned, chainset and derailleurs good, bars and headset secure. Okay... now get back on your bike and take it steady.
I felt good during the night although the temperature dropped quite a bit... down to 4'C according to the race organisers and occasional drizzle. Stopping for the odd hot drink or bite to eat the laps count down and soon the sun was coming up. Ironically that was the first time I really wanted to sleep and I was struggling to keep my eyes open. I found myself cycling with my eyes shut...just a few moments would be okay?
"C'mmon Johnny!" I shouted out loud to myself "Stay with it."
The urge to sleep passed and soon I was back in transition preparing for the run. My uber-efficient support crew were like a Formula 1 pit stop team. You could almost hear the high pitched "ZZZZiip...ZZZiip" of electrical power tools as they undressed and re-dressed me, changed shoes, handed me food and massaged my sore back - all at the same time. Pat on the shoulder; thumbs up; ready to go.
The run course was a short loop on a woodland trail passing round the lake we'd swam in yesterday. Soft underfoot but undulating and plenty of trip hazards. Soft underfoot eventually became ankle deep mud in many places as the weather turned for the worse. Relentless sheeting rain and gusting wind; a couple of marquees and the race control tent were blown over.
I'd changed kit twice during the run and had no more dry clothes left. I was running in my club bike jacket which I can testify is definitely not waterproof.
I'm soaked through and my core temperature is dropping. Just stopping long enough for a hot drink I get colder...I have to keep moving. Just over a marathon to go... (don't think of those distances Johnny) ...but I'm shivering badly; teeth chattering. I need to sort myself out... I go into a toilet block adjacent to the run course to get some temporary respite from the weather and think. I remove some wet clothing and repeatedly use the hand driers to blow some warm air over me... that feels good.
As if fate Jim Graham, the other mid Sussex tri club competitor, is in there too ...in the closed cubicle diligently reducing his racing weight. I haven't seen much of him since the bike leg but he's doing good. Jim gives me a spare space blanket... Yea Gods! And to think I had been taking the piss out of him on Friday for bringing so much kit! But the space blanket alone wouldn't do the trick. Back on the course I shout out to Ben (race crew) to bring a dustbin liner, small plastic bag and duct tape. I was annoyed with myself for not thinking to do this earlier. Sheltering among some trees we duct tape the space blanket round my torso next to my skin and use the bin liner over the top of my bike jacket. A small plastic bag taped over my head completes the ensemble. Great - I was more waterproof and had the means to trap some heat. After another couple of laps I was warm again.
The finish was sweet; not just the end of two days racing but the culmination of eight months training. I crossed the finish holding hands with my children. But I will remember the race for these other things as well:
My support crew:
Ben my eldest son, Dave brother-in-law and Helen, Jim Graham's wife. What a solid crew-able to anticipate our needs and keep us going. They got little sleep and spent the whole of Sun- cold and wet but never complained. Like Jim said don't even think about doing a race like this with-out a support crew. Outstanding!
Running miles 50 & 51 with my wife alongside me and Friends turning up unexpectedly having driven 2hr and standing in the rain for another 5 to help me finish.
Both other competitors and Enduroman organisers. Take Rev Graham - Enduroman staffer and Buddhist priest. Gold tooth, bone earring in a stretched earlobe - kilt, army boots and wearing his buff pirate-style. He helped keep me running with hot beef stock drinks - it was if he was offering me the Holy Grail full of the elixir of youth.
Craig Spring, Royal Navy, eventual winner of Double Enduroman. Such composure; his face a study of complete determination and focus. Walking up an incline together we reached the point to start running again when he barked out "Right legs...move!" and off he went already 20miles ahead of me. Amazing.
Fabian Pwi, Singapore Army. He was wobbling all over the road on his bike some 20hr into his race seemingly exhausted but still completed his triple another 44hr later.
Monique, the only female attempting the deca (10x daily iron dist format). One of only 4 remaining competitors on day9 (20 started on day1) she had to be pulled out of the water due to cold injury. It seemed her race was over but after 30min in the medical tent she was back at the jetty getting back into her wetsuit and into the water. "Whatta you lot staring at!" she harangued the crowd of awestruck onlookers.... Hard as nails!
Jim Graham for having the grit to finish the run well into the second night in foul weather...cold,wet,muddy and hungry...but getting the job done.
Everyone was hurting, but everyone still had a ready smile and a few words of encouragement for each other. Most didn't know the meaning of 'giving up'. I like being in the proximity of these kind of people
Why do it? ....
It seems I have a button somewhere inside that requires an occasional 'press-to-test'.. ...Besides you get a great t-shirt.
42 started the Double, 25 finished (including both MSTC competitors)... I came 8th in 34h54 (cutoff 39h) having had no sleep on a course where the average time for Sunday's single Enduroman was 16h49.
Swim 02:44:34 (13) Cycle 17:43:44 (11) Run 14:25:54 (7) Finish Time 34:54:14 Overall : 8
Swim 03:16:29 (23) Cycle 18:03:07 (12) Run 16:33:14 (17) Finish Time 37:52:52 Overall : 18