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!