Ironman UK 19th July 2015

In Which There’s No Happy Ending

Friday 17th July

Leaving it late as always, I chose two days before the Ironman triathlon to try on my wetsuit that Ironman Tony had given me. It was too small. At least I had plenty of time to find a new one, eh!

Today was registration, race briefing and expo day. Myself, Sarah, Tony and Susan made our way to Bolton with Tony driving. We parked up at Reebok Stadium (Macron Stadium now) and found the registration tent. (Wasn’t hard, it was quite big.) 

I handed over my I.D. and received my race stuff in this:


Awesome rucksack!

They also put this on me to mark me as an entrant:

  I went to the Scope stand (the charity that I’m racing for) and had a bit of a chat with them. They gave us a load of supporters tshirts and banners and stuff which was nice of them.

Tony had told me I’d be able to get a bargain on a new wet suit at the expo so found someone selling them and tried one on. The only changing area they had was a tiny, tall tent, probably around a metre square, with nowhere to sit and nothing to hold on to. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried on a wetsuit, but that wasn’t ideal conditions to put one on… Even harder when I took it off and I almost went over, with the wetsuit around my ankles! Anyway, it fit and I handed over £82. (Checked later on the website and the same wetsuit was £189, so it was a bargain!)

Bought myself a race number belt and an official Ironman UK 2015 tshirt with my name amongst everyone else’s.

After the expo it was time for the race briefing where they went through the rules and regulations and had a few guests talking about stuff. It went on for like an hour. 

After that we went for food and I had a mixed grill. Quite nice too.

Saturday 18th July

I woke up with a stiff back. Must’ve slept funny. Hurt a bit getting down the stairs but wasn’t worried. Spent the morning getting all my kit bags ready. They give you four bags, one to carry your stuff there, one for between the swim and the bike, one for between the bike and the run and one ‘special needs’ bag which you fill with anything you might need when in the bike. As the bike was two loops, you went by the needs bag twice. I filled it with gels, cereal bars, cans of coke and ham and cheese croissants. 

One of the coolest things they give you is race tattoos for your arms. I put these on too.

Then Tony arrived and we loaded up and set off back to Bolton where you needed to go rack your bike and hand in your race bags.

Went to Pennington Flash first where the swim would take place and the cycling would begin. I got out the van and my back was worse. It was a bit painful to walk. Ah well, I was sure it’d pass.

Here was where I dropped off my blue bag which contained my cycling stuff (helmet, gloves, shoes, gels etc) and racked my bike next to my number. 

Got my timing chip and then we went to Reebok stadium to drop off my red (run) bag. I was still stiff and sore so after dropping off my bag I took advantage of one of the masseurs (not like that!) Told her where the pain was and she concentrated on that area. It chuffing hurt. I told myself I’d be back to normal in the morning, but I wasn’t convinced.

Home, then, and an early night (half 7!) as I was getting picked up by Tony at 3am!

Sunday 19th July – Race Day

All the months of training had led to this day. All the hours or swimming, cycling or running instead of being in the pub or asleep had led me here. To today.

I didn’t sleep well due to the pain in my back. It hurt getting out of bed and when I was getting dressed it hurt so much I let out a cry of pain. Decided to see how I was when we got to Bolton.

Tony arrived just after 3am and I told him how I felt. Sarah saw us off and we drove the hour to Bolton pretty much in silence. Parked up at the stadium where there was a bus taking people to the start. They were taking athletes first so I told Tony I’d get there and find a medical tent to get looked at. The bus was full of nervous energy and anxious faces. 

Arriving at the swim start I went and had a word with a paramedic who prodded me a bit in the back of an ambulance.

“If you were just running a marathon today with this pain, would you go through with it?” He asked.

“Umm, probably not…” I replied.

“So you think you’ll run a marathon after swimming and then cycling 112 miles do you?”

“I… I don’t really know.”

He looked at me. “No, you won’t. You’ll end up causing lasting damage. I know it’s crap, but there’s always other races. Don’t do this one.”

I said “thank you” quietly and got out of the ambulance. I text Tony to say I wasn’t racing. I was gutted.

I met up with Tony, along with Sarah, Susan and Hannah and said I needed to go get my bag and bike. We walked back to the bus area as the announcer was shouting that Ironman UK 2015 had begun and everyone was entering the lake. It was a long walk back.

Busses weren’t transporting people back to the stadium until 9:30am so we asked at a hotel for them to call us a taxi. Not long later a minibus arrived with a taxi driving telling us to hurry up as, due to the road closures, he’d told the marshals that he had to pick up a pregnant woman so they’d let him through. On the way back he lied to every marshal to make sure we could get back through the road closures (bless him!) and he chatted friendly all the way. 

I approached the entrance to where I’d dropped my red bag the day before and it was pouring rain. I could see someone inside the expo tent so approached to ask about getting my bag back. A woman came out. This is actually the conversation:

Me: I’ve had to pull out of the race and am wanting to get my red bag back?

Her: What?

Me: (repeated the above)

Her: You’ll have to find a race organiser.

Me: Where is there one?

Her: At the swim start.

Me: Is there anyone here I can talk to?


Me: What?

Her: (actually ushering me out with her arms stretched out) PLEASE LEAVE THIS AREA.

Nice woman. (Is not the phrase Tony used to describe her.) We went round to the far side of the baggage tent to see if anyone was inside. There was, as it happens, a very friendly Welsh lad. I explained it to him and he said he’d ask his supervisor. I asked if it was the woman in the expo tent and he said ‘ah, you’ve met her then?’ I looked back at the expo tent and could see her looking over at us. 

He told us that she’s told him we have to wait until about 12 o clock for my bag. 5 1/2 hours away. While we were chatting her voice came over the radio.

Her: ARE THEY STILL THERE? (She could see us.)

Him: Yeah they are.


Him: (confused) No?


I thanked the Welsh guy and we went back towards the van. As we got around the other side, I saw a woman enter the tent area. She asked if we were ok and I explained. No problem, she said, I’ll get your bag. Before handing it over she checked it against my wristband and that was that. 25 minutes trying before she arrived, took about 2 1/2 minutes for her to sort it out. Cow from earlier watched us the whole time. Wish I’d stuck my middle finger up.

Drove home and updated my Facebook. Got lots of nice messages of support. Soon as it was an okayish time I started on the beer.

I was expecting to end the day as an Ironman, not recording a DNS (Did Not Start) but it wasn’t to be this time. So what now? Well, York marathon is just under 12 weeks away and I have no triathlons on the horizon. I want to start running again but my back is still killing me so can’t do that. Having a lazy few days. 

Thank you to everyone for your support throughout this journey, all the comments and likes I get seriously motivate me, but obviously now it’s not ended yet.

It won’t be ending until I’m an Ironman.


(Cue Rocky-esq training montage)

32 thoughts on “Ironman UK 19th July 2015

  1. I reread this and next year you got this

  2. sorry to read this but glad you pulled out before hurting yourself more.. i have done that before and it is not fun

  3. Haven’t blogged for ages, hence not caught up on how you did! So sorry to hear you didn’t do it! Here’s to the York marathon! Good luck and look forward to the next ironman!

  4. Just caught up with this – so sorry to hear about your DNS. Was bad enough for me at Manchester Marathon last year, must have been much worse for you. Hope to see you at York, if my dodgy hamstring allows me to do enough training!

  5. Oh, so, so sorry you missed out on your Ironman agony, but you totally made the right choice. I should know: I trained most of the summer for a 49K race, got sick the day before, tried to race it anyway and ended up flat on my back in the medical tent at mile 25.
    There are always, always other races and the training is never in vain (the joy of the pain, eh?). Take care and good luck on your next race.

  6. Hi…just found your blog. It was a nice post about a sad subject. Sorry you trained for it, then missed it! Hope you can get back at it soon!
    If you have a chance, maybe you could check out my new blog. I have just started a travel/run blog.

  7. A tough decision to make, but definitely the right one. It’s awful not being able to start a race you have been building up to, but at least by making the sensible choice, you’ll be able to come back stronger next time.

  8. Sorry you missed out, but definitely the right decision. I had to take that decision with Edinburgh Marathon in 2014 after running a half marathon before it and sabotaging my sciatic nerve. Gutted to miss it, but got over the injury, got much fitter and ran Chester 6 months later.

    Motto is, you’ll get there and do it!

  9. Shame you missed out after all that prep, but it was the right thing to do. As the man said, there will be other races, and a year will pass in a flash for the next Bolton ironman. Onwards and upwards!

  10. You have all the training and you are fit for fight (well, not exactly right now, but surely soon from now)..
    Hope you will get better and this back of yours will be fit soon.

    Have missed all my races planned since January. Had to accept that running on a bad foot would probably have the worse consequences ever. So yes, it was five days before the race and not on race day, but I kind-of understand the feeling. Keep up the good work and your funny updates. They cheered me up much during my recovery


  11. Sorry to hear about all this but you did the right thing. The guy was right. No good doing lasting damage.

    There will be other races and I’m sure you’ll be an Ironman one day my son!

  12. The battle was lost but the war is not over!

  13. Damn, that’s a hard decision to make. Hope your back starts to feel better now. But it is probably easier now to accept it, since it’s passed. I always feel anxious knots in my stomach about a race I can’t run until it’s passed. There is another race for you, really like the closing statement. Have a good time prepping for your marathon! You’re more than ready.

  14. Tough call, really admire the way you have written about all this. There will be another opportunity xxx

  15. So sorry, but you did the right thing – you wouldn’t have lasted the bike section. Back pain is a terrible thing and you need that sorted. If you haven’t already, get yourself to a physio and get the cause diagnosed and hopefully sorted out so that your fitness doesn’t go to waste. Really feel for you.

  16. I am so sorry to hear about this. I was always worried about a random injury or illness cropping up at the worst possible moment. I was in tears reading this blog post. I am glad to hear that you will be coming back to finish what you started. That is part of what being an ironman is all about…overcoming adversity (even if that means having the courage to fight another day). Keep us posted. Are you thinking about the same event next year?

  17. You did the right thing – the smart thing, even when it was incredibly hard. You’ve probably just saved yourself months or years of injury and heartache. There will always be another chance, bro.

  18. I feel your pain, I love your posts, always make me laugh. Can’t wait till you start up again. Glad you kept your health a priority even though it’s still a disappointment.

  19. Unlucky dude. DNS’s are hard but it sounds like it is for the best. I am sure you will be back out there soon

  20. That’s really horrible, but definitely the right call! I had to pull out of a half marathon earlier this year due to illness but went on a month later to take 4 minutes off my last PB so it was worth it in the end.
    Hope the back sorts itself out quickly, but enjoy the lazy days in the mean time!

  21. Tough luck. Stay strong, and I’m sure you’ll kick ass in the York Triathlon!

  22. Take it from someone who came back too soon from injuries and surgeries. It’s a minor setback, but in the long run you’ll be much better off.

  23. Good decision. Hard but sensible.

  24. You made the right decision, however sickening. Did you consult a Dr about your back?

  25. Boo, sorry to hear about that! I hope your back sorts itself out ASAP!

  26. Hope your back gets better soon Marc. can’t imagine how you felt having to pull out of the race. Do they let you defer your entry to next year?

  27. Mate, don’t give up, always feeling inspired after your blog, gutted for you but you took the advice and now there’s the next time, might not have been if you’d gone on with it.

  28. You made a difficult decision, which was the right one. Imagine how bad you’d feel with a dnf, or worse if you’d injured yourself seriously. There will be another day, another iron man.

  29. That’s a sick bag!! I hope mine is that cool at IRONMAN Canada this weekend 😀

  30. You hang in there, and don’t let it get you down! I missed a marathon this spring thanks to an injury, and I was so upset! But now that I’m healed up and training for my late summer/fall races, I’m glad that I skipped it. Had I went through with it, I might have ended up missing out on a summer of running, and many future races! Hang in there, you made the right choice.

  31. Jaysus that’s rough, and that last pic is really poignant. Fair play for taking the decision; I would have probably started and pulled out and done lasting damage, most likely. Brave call. What was the actual diagnosis in the end?

  32. Gutted for you, after all the training so hard to have to pull out, however sensible!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s