Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire

We did it…on the hottest day of the year!

Staffs has been our combined A race for 2017 and one we signed up to circa 10 months ago. Jenni’s first middle distance and Helen’s second.

Bikes racked and kit packed we headed to Staffordshire early on sat. Registered, attended the race briefing and started setting up transitions. This took all day due to it being a split transition set up and the crazy heat made it a sweaty job. There was a huge emphasis on the temperature and everyone was advised to forget their race times and listen to their bodies.

After checking out the swim course and driving some of the bike route we hit the local pub for a much needed dinner and retired to our rooms for an early night.

4am breakfast. Great set up by the Holiday Inn as pretty much all guests were competitors but it was a struggle eating so early.

Then we headed off to the Shugborough Estate, boarded the Athlete bus and started driving towards Chasewater. Everyone was relieved to find tyre pressures were ok when attaching nutrition to the bike, massive relief!

Gathered on the grass everyone was waiting until the last possible moment to get into wetsuits as it was super hot even at 7am. Quick change before our wave was called and we were off.

8am the swim started for us. No acclimatisation so a bit of a shock diving in. The course consisted of one lap. The water was pretty murky and with dazzling sunshine I was glad to have mirrored lenses. Bit choppy compared to some of the smaller stiller lakes we’re used to swimming in but we both got through in circa 50 mins.

Long run to transition, quick change and out onto the bikes. The route was pretty technical in the first few miles; very narrow lanes that had sharp concealed bends. We came across an accident early on  and knew it was necessary to slow the pace down to ensure safe riding. Beautiful bike course, undulating hills and amazing scenery. There was a long gradual hill towards the end which was quite tough and slowed everyone down but more so because of the heat. Then we were done.

T2 we took our time to apply suncream etc and headed out on the run. The support was amazing from spectators and a really great atmosphere. So many had rigged up hoses to spray water over us to keep us cool and bands were playing outside of pubs. The run was a disaster. Everyone was walking or adopting a very slow shuffle. The heat was just incredible and the casualtys started to come thick and fast. Lots of people collapsing, being sick and suffering with cramp. At this point I think everyone knew it was better to be safe than get a great time so we’re running very short distances and certainly walking up all of the hills. Great opportunity to chat to fellow athletes and really enjoyable.

Overall a great day. Helen did amazingly given she’s only a few months post op. We are both happy to have finished in such challenging conditions! Bring on the next one!


Chase the Sun

Last night was my first event since my ankle operation and I headed to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford to join my friend Robbie and take part in the Run Through Chase the Sun Event. I’d never done a Run Through event before so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. But it turned out to be a really good race!

It started under the ArcelorMittal Orbit There were options to run either 5km or 10km with the course being a loop of 2.5km, so 2 laps for 5km and 4 laps for 10km.

We arrived nice and early, collected our numbers easily and sat on the grass enjoying the sunshine whilst all the other runners arrived. It was a nice organised but relaxed atmosphere and the marshalls were wandering in and out of he participants asking if anyone had questions and checking that timing chips had been correctly fastened.

A quick group warm up and then everyone was lined up in pace order, then we were off!

I had opted for the 5km as I am only just starting to run again following my operation, Robbie was doing the 10km, so we set off together but separated after about 1km.

The route was really well marked with tape, cones, marshalls and signage for turns and km markers, in addition to a few motivational slogan signs too!

The marshalls were awesome, most had some kind of musical instrument maracas or tambourine and they were very cheery and encouraging! One Marshall ran along for a bit cheering everyone on and I recognised him from the Run Tatton race I did last year, I was unsure at first as surely a Marshall from a race in Cheshire wouldn’t be at a race in London but I asked him and he was indeed the same person, full of boundless energy!

It was a really hot evening but the organisers were well prepared, there was a water station at the lap point, so it was possible to take water every 2.5km if you needed it! I wouldn’t normally need water on a race of 10km or less but I did this time! A combination of the heat and my body having to work harder as I’m not as fit as I used to be, I genuinely needed a drink and the water was a welcome treat!

A very reasonable 31mins later I crossed the finish line. I was really pleased with that for my first race back! The medal is awesome and they had water, bananas, flapjacks (really really tasty flapjacks) and Pip n Nut Almond Butter at the finish line!

All in all a fab race, I will definitely be doing another Run Through event!