Great report from Andy Hutchinson on Ironman Bolton.
I had a couple of excuses for signing up to this event; the main reason being that it was my 40th this year and the other was that I had managed to rope my friend Paul into doing it too.
So I, perhaps naively, thought why not?
As a bit of background this was my first Triathlon season, before this event I had only completed the Alnwick Sprint and Northumberland Standard. So my main goal was simply to cross the finish line.
Chris H told me I would be going from Sprint to Ironman within one season, Tina said it was half a season. Both of these observations had me slightly concerned as to what I’d signed up for. To be fair this time last year I couldn’t really swim front crawl properly, so these concerns were probably very valid!!
Thankfully Tri4u got me through this with their Monday night sessions along with a few QE2 open water swims and lots of advice from others.
As I signed up early to the event I was sent through a training plan from Ironman themselves. It was far more intense than they had advertised on their website before committing, starting at 10 hours per week.
The training went well except for the month before the race. My knee began to hurt so I had to miss a few sessions on the last 2 weeks of the plan. Before this I had never experienced any knee issues, I think the problem was the volume of cycling/running and bad technique on the bike.
Pre-event I hadn’t realised, but there are a lot of potential fails before you even put a foot into the water which added to the last minute stress…!!
We had to register before 13.00, rack the bike by 17.00, hand in the run bag by 17.00 and attend the Race briefing. Thankfully all of that went to plan. The race briefer stated that no one gets any sleep the night before an Ironman, but I made sure I did by having 3 pints.
Race morning began with a 3am alarm, followed by breakfast then off to queue for the bus in the darkness and rain, at which point I was thinking “what am I doing this for?”…!
The swim was a 6am rolling start which I thought went pretty well except for the following:
1. A couple of guys in the 1hr 20mins section were trying to swim breast stroke and ended up getting swam over resulting in them having their hands up for help within about 2 minutes.
2. I started to panic as someone kicked my Garmin and I thought they’d stopped it or switched it into T1 state.
3. I had a couple punches to my goggles which made me re-think my drafting strategy on the second lap.
I was dreading the bike section but it turns out the Bolton course is much easier than trying to keep up with Mark Kelly for 106 miles on the Cyclone. I took the bike steady allowing lots of people to pass at the start and didn’t push at all, thankfully no bike technical issues or punctures. I felt like I made back a bit of time at the end. It also included a 20 minute queue for a toilet as I wasn’t doing the toilet thing on the bike that I’d heard & read about, not a chance!
I really enjoyed the run as I knew if I could make it to that point there is no way I wouldn’t finish.
My overall finish time was 12:55:44, which I’m really pleased with considering how stressed I was about not completing the bike section in the weeks leading up to the event.
The support on the Bolton course was incredible. I’ve not experienced anything like it. There were wrestlers at the top of sheep house lane, people on the streets in fancy dress, lots of alcohol and hundreds of cowbells. I totally milked it all, high fiving people on the bike and the run… someone had already high fived my face on the swim..!
I’d highly recommend the Bolton Ironman, I’d even do it again myself.
I’ve also really enjoyed my first season doing Triathlon and will continue, there’s certainly lots of room for improvement.
PS All my daft triathlon/Ironman questions will stop now and thanks to everyone who gave me advice, it all helped to get me through on the day.