Ironman UK (Bolton) Spectator Re-Cap


In Which I Become A THREE TIME IRONMAN…………….. event spectator

3rd August

With Ironman Lanzarote not being enough of a challenge in May, Father In Law Tony had also entered Ironman UK. Two in three months.

Everyone went over to Bolton to check into the Premier Inn sometime on the Saturday afternoon. I was working until six, so made my own way there via Manchester and McDonalds. I thought everyone would’ve eaten by the time I got there, but they’d been waiting an hour for a table in the restaurant so Sarah text me pictures of the menu and I then text Sarah my food order. (Technology is MARVELOUS!)

Everyone was fed, I had a few beers, then it was off for an earlyish (not at all) night.

4th August – Ironman Day

We got up early. And I mean EARLY. When we watched Iron man Lanzarote the event began at 0700. That meant we got up around 0600 – 06:15 and had a short walk down to the beach to watch the swim start. For what ever reason, Ironman UK starts at 0600. And we were staying nowhere near the swim start. Luckily, the events organisers put on coaches for the athletes and supporters. The coach left at 0515. Ugh.

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Going In

The Ironman UK swim course is in a lake thing called Pennington Flash. It’s a two x1.2mile lap course, and the athletes have to start in the water. Before the gun goes, they have to tread water for 5-10minutes or so which must use some much needed energy. After the first lap, they have a run of about 80m before doing the second lap. Pretty much every athlete that ran out of the water slipped on the mats. Not very safe.

Coming Out

Coming Out

Tony came out of the water in just under 41minutes then got straight back in for his second lap. After we’d cheered him on, we moved up the course towards where the bike part would start. We got a good spectator spot and waited for him to run passed. We were also keeping an eye out for another family(ish) member. I think he’s my Wife’s cousins cousins husband. Or something… Anyway, while we were waiting for Tony, we heard “And coming out of the water, Martin Stoney!” and because that’s my wifes cousins cousins husbands name, we looked out for him. I think he’s done marathons and such, but this was his first Ironman event. A minute or so passed, and then he ran passed looking strong.

Martin

Martin

Not too long after, we saw Tony running up towards us and he stopped for a quick chat before running up to Transition 1 (where they get changed) and then he was off on his bike.

Sarah Helping Get The Wetsuit Off

Sarah Helping Get The Wetsuit Off

It’d be AGES until we saw him again due to the course set up. We got on the free bus back to the hotel, and we all had breakfast. (Which was our Transition 1.)

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After about an hour we made our way to the train station and got on a train (obviously) to the centre of Bolton. Only took about 10minutes and so that wasn’t enough time for the conductor to come round and sell us a ticket. When we got off they had a couple of guards checking tickets so we went up the counter next to them where you could buy a ticket for the journey you’ve already done. I think if they’re too lazy to come round with tickets, it should be free. But it’s not.

When we were waiting a scruffy lad tried to run down to the platform but Guard 1 stopped him because he didn’t have a ticket.

Guard 1: “Tickets please.”
Bloke: “My f***ing trains there, I don’t have time for an f***ing ticket.”
Guard 1: “You can’t go passed without a ticket.”
Bloke: “That’s f***ing stoopid. My f***ing trains there.”
Guard 1: “You still need a ticket I’m afraid.”
Bloke: “F***ing F***ing F***ing F***ing.”
Guard 1: “The ticket counter is over there.” (Bloke goes to ticket counter, f***ing all the way)
Guard 2: “He could use the machine, no ones using it.”
Guard 1: “He’ll be too stupid to use a machine.”

The bike course for Ironman UK starts where the swim finishes, but ends about 6 mile away from the centre of Bolton. This meant that we could make sure we were in plenty of time to see Tony and Martin on their run. The bike course is a point to point 14 mile ride, before then going into a three lap route that starts at Adlington in Lancashire and takes in quite a few hills and villages. It then finishes at a high school where Transition 2 is waiting, after a total of 112 miles riden on the bike.

Our Transition 2 was the pub.

Finishers Chute

Finishers Chute

There were plenty of splits on the bike course so it made it easy for us to track Tony and Martins progress on the Irontrac App. (Lanzarote only had one split so had to be more vigilant.) Plenty of splits on the run course too, which makes it much easier as a spectator. Looking at the App, we saw that Tony had finished the bike section in 6:44 and Martin in 7:11. The Marathon for Ironman UK is a six mile run into central Bolton, followed by a three lap course for the other 20 miles. The first split the app tracks is at 10k, but then they’re every 1-3k or so. We thought that the first split was near where we were stood, but it wasn’t. We were expecting them to run passed us at anytime, but it turns out that we were closer to the 4th split, so didn’t see them for almost an hour later than we expected. And it poured down.

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Before long though, we saw Tony running up towards us and he stopped for a few words. Then he was off again. With part of the run being 3 laps you see the person you’re cheering on six times. (With the last time being the finish.) We figured out which splits were which and made sure we were at the road side in time to cheer. (Inbetween was a combination of McDonalds and a pub. Or two.)

When they were on their final laps we made our way to the finishers chute and got a place in the stands. Again, using the Irontrac app, we had a good idea of when they’d be finishing. Martin came passed first to finish in a time of 14hours 17minutes. As we were waiting for Tony, the big screen broke and didn’t get fixed until after he’d crossed the line which was a shame as you could’ve got a brilliant picture of him finishing. Maybe next time.

Tony came down the chute and we all cheered. Susan had made her way to the front of the barriers and Tony stopped to give her a hug, before going over the finishers line in a time of 14hours 24minutes, (almost half an hour quicker than Lanzarote) and becoming a Triple Ironman.

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5th August

After breakfast we went and had a look at the Ironman Expo. It was a LOT better than Lanzarote, with loads on sale. I bought myself an Ironman training book as motivation. Hmmmm……

Tonys Medals

Tonys Medals

When we got home we went and got this:

Tiger Lily

Tiger Lily

Our new kitten. Indy seems to be tolerating her so far, so that’s good.

Mad Dog 10k Recap


In Which I Have A Great Race and a Great Weekend

Cast:
Sarah – The Wife
Rob – …..Rob
Claire – Mrs Rob
Ironman – Tony, Sarahs Dad
Susan – Sarahs Mum
Hannah – Sarahs Sister
Indy – Our Cat

The run was on Sunday 10th February, but as it was in Southport and we live in Bradford, decided to stay over night on Saturday the 9th so we didn’t have to travel early.

We met Rob and Claire in the train station on the Saturday morning where we needed to catch a train to Manchester, then onto Southport. Myself and Sarah got there about 15 minutes before the train left, Rob and Claire got there with about 10 minutes to spare. Claire went for a coffee but the girl in the coffee kiosk was VERY slow at making coffee, so me and Sarah ended up convincing the train driver not to set off yet, with Rob stood in sight of us and sight of Claire shouting in both directions, and Claire waiting on her coffee. All worked out fine though, and a few minutes later we were off.

An hour later we got to Manchester, changed trains and went onto Southport on a train that was about as old as the first ever train. Another hour passed and we arrived at Southport train station with a rough idea of which direction to head for the hotel. GPS on Robs phone came to the rescue and after a LONG walk on a COLD pier we got to the Premier Inn. Because we booked about two months in advance, our rooms were only £29 per night. Excellent.

A short while later, after two lovely bottles of non-alcoholic beer, we hit the amusements and played on 2p pusher machines, Rob won Claire a teddy (I wasted about £10 trying to get one for Sarah, no joy…) and we had a very nice meal in an all-you-can-eat world food buffet restaurant place. It was then an early night.

On the Sunday morning myself and Sarah went down to breakfast and met Rob and Claire, and I had some porridge, a slice of bacon, a bit of fruit and a yoghurt.

We then walked the mile and a bit walk along the seafront to where the race organisers had arranged for free buses to take all the runners and their supporters to the start of the run. We met up with Ironman, Susan and Hannah who had driven over that morning for Tony to take part in the race.

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Rob, Ironman, Me

There was a queue for the buses but within ten minutes or so we were on our way, and ten minutes after that we were at the start. You could get your race t-shirt either before or after the race and decided to get them before to save time afterwards. There were girls giving out pens and shower gel and energy lemonade so we got a bit of everything, along with our t-shirts. The race was delayed by half an hour, but the hall where the t-shirts were collected from was nice and warm. (Also, where a bloke was giving his two kids energy drinks. Bet they’re still awake now.)

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Brilliant T-Shirt!

The race is called Mad Dog as it was named after a member of Southport Hesketh Round Table, who died suddenly (Tony McWade, whose nickname was “Mad Dog”). This is only the third year it has been run, but both the previous races have been voted the best in the country and it’s easy to see why.

The start line was a few minutes around the corner so went to the toilet on the way (for the second time since arriving) and then lined up with everyone else. (Obviously, the music blarring out was ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’) Didn’t take too long before the race was under way, and Ironman shot off. Rob started a bit behind me but within a few seconds he pealed off too. I had Rob in my sights the whole way around, but never caught him. I got within about 50 metres at one point but no closer.

It was a very flat course, but due to the time of year, a very cold one. We ran down the seafront that we had walked up an hour earlier, then past a band of drummers and passed the staff of Chiquitos who were cheering from under their own tent. With my marathon plan in mind (run 5k then walk through each water station in the marathon) I decided to run 5k, then walk through the water  station. Reaching the 5k point, there was no water station, but it turned up at about 5.5k so I didn’t cry or anything.

I had a steady run back, but stopped at 7k and also 9k for a drink of water due to my head over-heating a bit. When I was having a drink at 7k, a lad ran passed me and slapped me on the back saying ‘Coming on mate, you’re almost there.’ But he said it really smuggly so when I ran by him after my drink at 9k I slapped him on his back and said ‘Come on mate, you’re almost there.’ Bit petty, but served him right.

As I mentioned earlier, I had sight of Rob for the whole way and so I saw him cross the line, and it helped me find everyone after I finished. On our race numbers there was a QR Barcode thing to scan, and it turns out I got a brand new PB of 56:50! That’s over three minutes knocked off my best time! VERY chuffed with that.

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Tired

With Ironman setting off ahead of Rob, Rob knew that he was close to Ironmans finishing time. I scanned Rob’s code first, and it came back as 55:32. (A new PB too!) I scanned Tony’s and his came back as… 55:15. Rob was gutted, 17 seconds away from beating the Ironman! (The trash talk started straight away, and didn’t stop for the rest of the day.)

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Fantastic Medal

The organisers were giving out medals, goody bags and fruit so I got one of each. (I had an apple.) I put on my medal and had a look through the fantastic goody bag.

It included:
Money off vouchers for the restaurants opposite our hotel.
A can of Mad Dog Energy Lemonade
A bottle of Recovery Gatorade
A pack of sweets (Lovehearts, fruit salad, blackjacks and more)
Some Rice Biscuits
Some shaving gel
Few other bits!

Brilliant!

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Great Goody Bag

Afterwards we waited less than five minutes and got the bus back, then everyone got in the car to the hotel but as there were 7 of us, me and Rob walked back and talked tactics.

After a shower, we all met in the hotel bar/restaurant and had some food and a few beers. (No beer for Rob, being too healthy.) Tony, Susan and Hannah drove back and the rest of us used our return tickets and went for the train. (After visiting a few clothes shops and stuff for Sarah and Claire.)

It was a fantastically well organised run and everything ran smoothly. The crowds were brilliant along the route, as were the entertainment. I didn’t even mention the female singer on the way back, or the Elvis on the way out!

Already looking forward to next years ‘Mad Dog 4: The Good, The Bad and The Pugly.’

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Indy ‘Mad Cat 10k’ finisher

Train, not Training


In which I get annoyed, and am forced to run

Today I was working in our new shop in the Lowry Centre, in Salford Quays, just outside Manchester. I normally work in Bradford so it was like a little holiday for me.

I got up early, got the train (an hour) followed by a tram, then another tram, then a quick ten minute walk and arrived with minutes to spare.

So far, so good.

After I finished work I did the same journey, but in reverse. A quick ten minute walk followed by a tram, then another tram, then… Hang on… I can’t see my train on the board! It was 18:15 and my train left at 18:21!

I approached a station guard and asked where the train left from.
“Bradford?” I said.
“Bradford?” he said.
“Bradford” I said.
“platform six” he said.
“platform six?” I said
“platform six” he said.

The other side of the station.

I jogged over, plenty of time, and reached platform six. I looked at the board and it didn’t say Bradford, or any town that i could locate on a map. I approached another guard.

“Is this where I get the Bradford train?” I said.
“Bradford train?” he said.
“Bradford train!” I said.
“platform five.” he said
“platform five?!” I said
“platform five.” he said.

18:19. I ran to platform five, no train. I went up to a bloke and said:
“Is this the right platform for the Bradford train?”
“No”
“Oh.”

18:20. Legged it back to the barriers and saw two more platforms. I approached yet another guard and said “is this where the Bradford train goes from?”
“Yes.” he said! “You just missed it.”

Gutted. “What time’s the next one?” I asked. He told me they were once every hour after six. I asked if there was one at ten to, I was sure there was, and he said “No, after six they’re once an hour, at twenty past.”

Only one thing for it. Station pub. Bought a beer. Sat down and started messing on my phone to make it look like I had friends. The last app I’d been on came up, the National Rail train finder. Decided to double check the times and it came up with 18:48. Even though the guard said 19:20.

I’d like to say the app was wrong and he knew what he was on about, but obviously didn’t because I’m currently sat on the train that left for Bradford at 18:48.

Asked three members of staff a question, all three got it wrong. After posting this, I’m going to copy and paste into an email and send them it. Not this bit though, because I want to put their reply up too. Probably reply to the wrong person.