This week, I realized I have a lot of old posts from a previous blog. So that they don’t go to waste, and to save me having to write new blogs I’m going to publish some of the more interesting ones.
This is from 2015….
Bolton was home to Fred Dibnah. He climbed chimneys and became a TV star. When he died a statue was erected in his honor. Bolton was home to Nat Lofthouse. He was one of the greatest English footballers. When he died a statue was erected in his honor. Bolton was home to Vernon Kaye. He presented the TV show which tried to drown celebrity’s – “Splash.” I hope he doesn’t get a statue for it!
If he doesn’t then he will, at least, get a mention in a remembrance book at Bolton Wanderer’s stadium. It lists all the Bolton fans that died that day….which is a bit creepy. Do they phone up the hospital and check who the recently deceased supported?
IronMan UK which is based at Bolton’s stadium. The race is a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and then a run of 26.2-mile.
Registration and Transition 2 are based at the stadium. It’s convenient for parking and easy to get to/from the motorway. The expo/merchandise is smaller than IronMan Frankfurt (which I’d visited a few weeks beforehand) so don’t wait until after the race to buy anything as it will most likely be gone by then.
You can request a special needs bag for the bike section but its not given out automatically.
We stayed in http://www.hiexpressleigh.co.uk/ which is next to the swim start but about 10 miles from Bolton. It was a good choice. We walked to the swim in the morning and they supplied an early breakfast and a pre-race dinner.
After registration we parked the car in a multistory next to the finish line. The car parks free at the weekend. After the race we’d only have a short walk from the finsish to the car park. We took a bus back to Leigh and picked up a race essential – a Subway sandwich for the special needs bag. I wasn’t going to spend all day racing without eating some real food.
Unfortunately the hotel room didn’t have a fridge so I created one from ice cubes and a sink. I suspect I was the only one racing who eat a Subway.
Our pre race rest comprised walking to the cinema to watch Ant Man. It was rubbish but watchable. I got to bed about 20:00 and set the alarm for 04:00
The rain was pelting down when I got up. The start was only a short walk away so instead of getting clothes wet I wore the wet-suit from the hotel to the start line. As I walked along I passed people in wetsuits who also were also wearing rain smocks! Why??? Surely they can’t be concerned about the wet suit getting wet!
The swim is a rolling start so you queue in a line and enter the water and start swimming. Where you stand in the line represents how quick you think your swim time will be. I queued towards the back.
The swim is two laps of the course. The queue start meant there was no getting battered and bumped at the beginning of the race. The second lap was trickier as the weather was abysmal which made it tough to spot the buoys. I was surprised when I got out to do so at the exact same time as my brother. I hadn’t seen him at all on the course during either lap!
There is only one tent. Other races have two (one for male, one for female) so if you want to get naked you have to do so in a corner of the tent that’s blocked off. Its pretty pointless as it’s not very well blocked off so you can see everything. I apologize to anyone who got an eyeful. I can only claim that the water was very, very cold.
It was still raining when we came out of transition. The forecast was for the sun to come out within an hour but I wore waterproofs. I’m glad I did because the weather forecast was wrong and it was mostly a cold and very windy ride.
The first section is a 14 mile urban ride to the start of a two loop circuit. The circuit has two hills on it. Neither of which is particularly difficult as we are used to Scottish hills. The support on both is excellent as a lot of people come out to cheer you on as you make your way up. The wind never abated on the laps and it felt it was more against than for me.
Nothing much interesting happened on the ride other than a man rode into the back of Andrew at the special needs section. Luckily neither Andrew or his sandwich were hurt. At another point we took a wrong turn but we weren’t the only ones who did so and it was quickly rectified.
In terms of organisation there aren’t many toilet spots on the loop and support vehicles seemed to be few and far between. It didn’t cause us any issues but its worth noting that help might not be immediately at hand.
This years bike split times are much slower than last year’s. This has a good analysis of it http://www.coachcox.co.uk/2015/07/20/ironman-uk-2015-results-and-analysis/
There was only one tent so a similar system of nakedness replied. Again, I apologize for anyone who got an eyeful.
The weather in Bolton was nice, the sun had come out (at last!) We had a strategy of running the flat/downhill and walking the uphill. After two minutes of leaving transition we came to the first hill. It felt strange to stop but a strategy is a strategy!
The first part of the run takes you into Bolton city centre. It’s pretty dull slog along a canal as there are no mile markers. I had to rely on a GPS watch to know how well/badly I was doing.
After this there were three loops of the city centre. The amount of supporters, or they may just be people who like to watch other suffer, lining the streets was unbelievable. At time I was running into a wall of noise. A wall that likes shouting encouragement. Unfortunately I do better with criticism so I just ignore the encouragement but I do appreciate the atmosphere. Without it the run would have been a struggle. One women did make me laugh as she shouted “two for the price of one” after spotting myself and Andrew.
The loop is surprisingly hilly. A steady climb out of town and steady descent back. As the hills were long I abandoned the hill strategy and replaced it with ‘the cone game’! I’ll share this wonderful game so you too can go slightly mental on a race.
It’s very simple. The course is lined with cones so pick a number of cones to run past and then a number to walk. On the way down the hill on the first lap we’d do a 4-2 strategy. 4 cones running, two cones walking. On the way back up the hill 3-3. The strategy would change depending how we felt so if we were tired we could drop to a 3 cones on 4 cones off etc
From this I learnt that Andrew has trouble counting as he’d say “was that the second cone or the third?”
I also believe I can now recognize every cone in Bolton! By the end they all had individual personalities. I might have gone loopy. It was a really good way to get through the run as we could always see where our next run or walk section was.
Their was a lack of toilets on the route but luckily neither of us had any issues on the day. We both just eat a little bit of everything in moderation and that worked fine.
The finish was excellent. Big crowds and the man saying “lain…you are an IronMan” but better than that was the free pizza in the finish tent.
A good experience that means I’ll never have do another one! I’ve always preferred shorter races and this didn’t change my opinion although I would like to know – If I did an IronMan abroad would they say “you are an IronMan?” or would it be”eres un hombre de hierro” or “vous êtes un homme de fer” or…