I planned to do this race last year as I had lived in Manchester for 3 years and a lot of my friends from Manchester triathlon club were also taking part, and I knew the support along the course would be fantastic, it certainly didn’t disappoint.
I traveled up on the Wednesday before the race and was staying at Paul Savages house. It was great staying with Paul and he was an absolute legend, he took me round both the bike and run course, chauffeured me around to training, and to the numerous trips to the Reebok stadium and the transitions, also thank you Kelly for letting me stay. I had a great time and you were both perfect hosts. And the offer still stands if you fancy a little break in Lowestoft!
I knew before the start that all the quick swimmers such as Dan, Harry, Steve, and Fraser were going to want to try and push the pace and put as much time into me, Scott Neyedli, and Joel Jameson. Actually it’s quite funny as since the race has actually now been aired and you can see Harry and Dan talking about working together in the swim and holding 1m 10 pace for it, which I think is precisely what they did as them two and Steve swam round 44 minutes with Fraser 30 seconds off the back of them. I trailed them by 5 minutes 30 which I was kind of expecting to be honest.
I got out onto the bike in 9th place and just settled into my own rhythm and soon caught up with Scott Neyedli and a couple of others. Once I got out onto the main circuit which we had to do 3 laps of I could see another rider and we managed to catch him t the roundabout after all the descending. We were now riding in 5th, 6th, and 7th place. All was going well at this point with the leaders around 6 minutes up te road so they weren’t pulling away but we weren’t making any in roads into there lead which to be honest with I wasn’t that bothered at this point in time as I didn’t feel as though I was pushing very hard and I thought once we get to around 3 hours in I will start ramping it up and try and reduce there lead. However at some point on the first big lap I got a puncture, I didn’t realize at first as I had some slime which I had put in the tire and that sealed it so it wasn’t completely flat. I really noticed it the second time up the hill as when we went over the cattle grid I felt my rim hit on grid and I thought oh shit I’ve definitely got a puncture, before that I thought it was just hard going. At this time I wasn’t sure what to do as I was able to stay with these guys who I was riding with and I thought if I stopped I might not catch them back up and that could see me loosing lots of time and effectively be the end of me achieving any sort of good result so I carried on. Towards the end of the second lap a guy on a motorbike came passed and I asked him where the SRAM service station was, he said it was at the feed station, excellent only about 3-4 miles. I told him I needed a front wheel and he radioed through and told them I would be coming in so to expect me.
When I got there I shouted front wheel, front wheel, I heard them shout back so went over to them quickly undone my quick release expecting a quick change. However they literally had no idea what they were doing, they were asking me what type of front wheel I wanted, I said any just a front wheel, and then they asked me again what type. Now to my knowledge there is only one type of front wheel and that’s a round one so I have no idea what they were going on about and so just carried on.
The guys I was riding with were probably about 30 seconds ahead now with one ascent of the big climb to go, I rode hard up the climb and then just as I caught them I quickly got my CO2 cartridge out and tried that, luckily it worked and my tyre stayed at high pressure. In hindsight I should have stopped before but I was told the previous day that if you did get a puncture and used the CO2 it would just go backdown to the pressure it was t previously, I really wish I hadn’t been told his as I would have stopped instantly and used it but you live and learn and next time I will stop straight away.
I couldn’t believe the difference this made and I flew up the rest of the hill and caught the guys before the left turn and ended up putting 2 minutes into them. In fact my power was quite a bit lower on my second lap but yet my average speed was higher including the 2 stops I had. I managed to catch harry Wiltshire with about 4-5 miles to go of the bike and with Fraser going the wrong way I ended up in transition in 3rd place 10 minutes behind the lead two.
I wanted to average around 6m 30mpm pace for the run and I knew from my training that this should be possible. I started and was holding around 6.15-6.20 pace for the first bit and this felt comfortable, I did feel quite hungry though so didn’t want to push it any quicker then this as I thought I might bonk if I did. After 10 kilometres you have to go up some big hill to get onto the course, I’ve uploaded it onto strava and its 1 kilometre at an average gradient of 5% so you certainly notice it. Then once on the course it literally feels like 3 laps of half a lap gradually down hill and half a lap gradually up hill. I got to the feed station on Bark street to start 3 laps to go and saw that Scott Neyedli had took 2 minutes out of me already and I wasn’t hanging around, I couldn’t believe it I think I said to Paul Savage in the feed station how the f**k has Scott took 2 minutes out of me already. I felt I was running well and was running at well under 2 hour 50 pace at this point. I knew by the way I was running though and that as Scott was running so much faster he wouldn’t be able to sustain it and at some point he would have to slow down. You have to believe that the guy in front of you is going to slow down otherwise your head goes and as soon as you lose your head that’s it, its race over, any chance of a decent result is gone.
Over the next lap Scott kept pulling away from me and I think he gained a maximum lead of around 1 minute 30, while at the same time Stephen Bayliss was blowing up and his lead was coming down dramatically. At the start of the 3 laps he had around 10 minutes but with 2 laps to go his led had dropped to around 6 minutes. I was holding my pace around 6 minute 30 per mile.
Onto the penultimate lap and Scott was not pulling away from me anymore, I was actually starting to reel him in a bit, it was so motivating as all the spectators were giving me time splits and lads of encouragement which really helped. I just tried to put my head down and chip away at both Scott and Stephen. When we started the last lap Scott was only 25 seconds ahead of me and Stephen was only 2 minutes, I knew if I could hold my pace then I had a very good chance of coming 2nd as I was moving the fastest out of the 3 of us. Going up the last hill after the Bark Street aid station I could see Scott just in front of me, this really spurred me on. I did have a few thoughts running through my head like how am I going to pass him, should I go by straight away and try an up the pace (normally you would probably go for this but with 20 miles in your legs and feeling pretty nailed it’s hard), should I sit on him and wait for the sprint finish (I thought I could take him in a sprint so was contemplating waiting to the last 100 meters). In the end I decided to just go for it, I went past him an just dug in and hoped that he wouldn’t be with me. Luckily he wasn’t and I was now in 3rd.
It was now all about really digging in and seeing if I could catch Steve Bayliss, I got him down to about 1 minute at the feed station at the far end and I actually thought I would get him. I thought it could end in a sprint finish and was getting ready for one. Unfortunately for me though my legs were absolutely killing me after this aid station and even keeping the pace going was hard work. I managed to dig in though and keep the pace going but I wasn’t sure if Scott was catching me, I remember saying to the guy on the bike “where’s’ Scott?” “can you see him, how far behind is he?” I remember them saying they couldn’t see him and I thought god is he catching me! But no he wasn’t catching me but nor was I catching Steven, I ended up in 3rd place. My god my legs were shot after I crossed the line. It actually put me in tears; the pain they were in was like nothing I’ve ever experienced, the muscles just felt absolutely screwed!
I just want to thank everyone who came out on course to help cheer me on and especially Lee from Mail Big File, Jay Lingwood, and Lee Cook, and my Dad for coming up from Lowestoft to cheer me on and offer support, and also Paul Savage and Kelly for letting me stay at there house leading up to the race, chauffeuring me around and just being an absolute ledgend. Also thanks to all my sponsors Huub for the great wetsuit which got me a sub 50 minute swim, Starley for the great T2 bike, and On running for the shoes which got me a sub 3 hour marathon.
Now I’m recovered I can’t wait for Florida now and getting a fast time, I just hope I can push myself harder then at Ironman UK!