Long Haul (Updated)

Last weekend Joe Hurley, Ian Hosley and Stuart Blofeld all went off to compete in riduculous events! Most people these days are familiar with Ironman triathlons, but only a few actually contemplate doing one and then even less set-off from the start line.

Joe Hurley has now done six of these events that consist of a 2.5 mile swim, a 112 mile run and then a marathon just top it all off! His sixth and most recent one was Ian’s debut and it took place in the only official UK version of the Ironman series up in Bolton in Lancashire. I did e-mail to ask for a comment from the man himself, but he has so far declined to comment!

Joe was hoping to complete the course somewhere in the region of eleven hours, but his total time of 12:02 is still a crazy amount of time to be exercising and was split into 1:11 in a lake, 6:17 sat on a bike and a 4:17 pounding the roads! Overall it gave him a finish position of 275 out of 983. Ian meanwhile was learning how to approach the event and started with a 1.27 swim before spending nearly 7.30 on a bike! He clearly was feeling fresh in the end though as he completed the marathon leg of this epic effort in 3.43 and was extremely chuffed.

While Joe and Ian were off doing that, Stuart decided that running around a 10K loop for 24 hours was a much better option! He was hoping to complete over 100 miles in that time, which for those of you not too quick on the maths, means 16 10K’s on the same course, back to back! With absolutely no knowledge of ultra running and complete incomprehension as to why you would do it, I don’t really feel in a position to comment. However, I do offer many congratulations to Stuart on a remarkable race and urge you to read his blog, which gives far more insight than I could ever offer here. Yes, I know it’s a get out!

Since writing this originally, Joe has sent across a more detailed report…….

Following two days of heavy rain in the area, Bolton was treated to a dry but cloudy dawn on 1st August and the 2010 Ironman UK started on schedule at 6 am.  The 2.4 mile swim passed fairly to form and I exited the water after 1 hr 11 minutes.  Following a fairly speedy change out of my wetsuit and into cycling kit I headed off onto the bike course more or less on schedule.   The roads were extremely wet and I found that traction, especially on the bends, was not to my liking so I stopped briefly to let a little air out of my tyres.  This did the trick and handling was pretty good for the rest of the course even when I overcooked it on one of the fast descents and locked up when trying to make a sharp turn at the bottom of a hill.  Overall the 112 miles of the bike course was fairly testing with almost 7,000 feet of climbing and a number of sharp turns which made it impossible to get into a good steady rhythm; the effort certainly ended any chance of a fast run.  I was quite pleased with my ride time of 6 hr 16 minutes and after a change into run kit I set out on the marathon course. The first 3 miles were on muddy, rocky trails through woodland and the recent rain had left quite a bit of surface water to contend with.  Once this part of the course was negotiated and I was on firmer ground I managed to churn out a fairly steady pace for the next 6 or 7 miles.  I was still close to my schedule for a 4 hour marathon and my target time of about 11.5 hours for the course but by now the effect of the bike course was starting to take its toll and I slowed to walking pace through the feed stations and a very slow jog on any inclines.  The 11 mile point takes the competitor to within 50m of the finish line and while the elite athletes were already enjoying the post race hospitality, the rest of us mortals had to turn around and head back out for another 15 miles of ‘running’.  It was on the outward section of the run at about 16 miles that I saw Ian Hosley; he was over an hour behind me but looking extremely comfortable.  I saw Ian at more or less the same place on the way back (20 miles for me) and he was still running well whilst I was reduced to a walk / shuffle.  At the 23 mile marker I finally managed to pull myself together and ran in the last 3 miles actually increasing pace along the way. The crowd support all along the course is tremendously enthusiastic and really gives you a lift; at the finish the noise is amazing and the commentator calls out your name along with a few stats and points of interest (particularly if you have completed the event before).  I crossed the line in 12 hours 2 minutes after a 4 hr 18 min marathon.  15 minutes of transition time (changing kit and getting from finish line of one discipline to the start of the next) accounted for the balance.  I believe that Ian finished about an hour behind completing his first Ironman and recording a fantastic marathon time of 3 hr 44 min. We got-together afterwards for a few well-earned beers and to swap ‘war stories’.  All in all, we concluded, a great day, an amazing experience and one to recommend to anyone who wishes to challenge themselves in arguably the toughest single-day endurance event around.  I have already booked my hotel for next year!