Elliott Ward took part in his first Ironman event in Copenhagen on 18 August. Here is his race report on a fantastic achievement.
I started running in 1993 and did my first Great North Run the following year.
A half marathon was definitely my limit – how could anyone possibly run a marathon? That would be insane!
I ran my first marathon in 2009 taking just under 5 hours. I walked the last 10 miles and was absolutely exhausted by the end. I had definitely reached my limit and was never going to put myself through that again!
By 2017 I had run 16 marathons and improved my time to 3 hours 39 minutes but my recent runs had been getting slower. I needed to change things. I needed a new challenge.
I remember talking to Miv, Matty and Elaine on the train home from the London Marathon 2017. Whilst I’d ran well, I’d trained for a better time so was quite despondent and I think this is when I decided to give triathlon a go.
Fast forward to 2018 and I’d learnt how to swim, bought myself a bike (or two) and had entered some events. I did some Go Tri’s, Sprint Distances and one Olympic Distance that year and really enjoyed the atmosphere of the events.
By 18 August 2019, I found myself at 7:15am in a public park in Copenhagen about to start my first Full Distance Triathlon.
My friend and mentor David Levison had just decided to withdraw from the event due to a wrist injury sustained in training 3 weeks earlier and whilst I was devastated for him I knew I had a big day ahead of me and had to focus on my race.
I felt strangely calm as I gave Lorna one last ‘good luck hug.’ I had no nerves and felt really excited for what lay ahead of me.
My 2.4 mile swim started shortly after 7:30am. We were set off in groups of six every six seconds so there was no mad scramble at the start and I got into a steady stroke pattern immediately.
I loved the swim and came out of the water 4 minutes ahead of my target time, which was a great feeling.
I saw Lorna as I ran through transition and managed a ‘high five’ on the way past!
The bike section was next and David, Sarah and Lorna were all there to cheer me on as I left T1 for 112 miles of cycling.
I was hoping to complete the course somewhere between 6hrs – 6hrs 30m so I was delighted to complete the first lap in 2hrs 55m.
I got a huge lift when I saw my support team cheering me on in T2 and before I knew it I had my trainers on and was hobbling out onto the run course to start a 4.5 lap Marathon.
The run was tough but still strangely enjoyable.
I got to see Lorna, David and Sarah twice on each lap, which was a massive help. They kept my spirits up and ran with me for a while when I got tired.
My pace was slow and got slower but I didn’t mind. I knew I was going to achieve my goal and the time it took me to run the marathon was largely irrelevant.
There were a few testing moments on the run but before I knew it I was on my final lap and the finish was in sight. I’d ran past the finish chute three times during my run so it was with immense relief that it was now my turn.
As I rounded the corner to the finishing straight, I saw David and Sarah cheering me on. What a feeling of exhilaration as I gave them a high five and made my way to the finish line to hear the announcer proclaim “ELLIOTT……..YOU – ARE – AN IRONMAN”!
I’d done it! What a relief. What an effort. What a feeling!
My whole journey from Go Tri to Ironman has been brilliant.
Like Ponteland Runners, the group at Ponteland Tri are a fantastic bunch of people and their support, encouragement and belief have been invaluable.
Triathlon is a great event to get involved in and I would encourage anyone who is thinking about it to give it a go – I’m sure you won’t regret it!