Today marked the 5th year that the IronMan has come to Bolton in Lancashire. This year came with some spectacular athletes as everyone could fight for age group qualifying slots to represent their own country at the world championships in Kona Hawaii.
The race started at Pennington Flash near Leigh where athletes completed a 2.4 mile swim circuit. Next, the 112 mile bike course took in some of Lancashire’s greatest scenery over Rivington and Belmont. Riding over Belmont provides a challenging climb which needs to completed 3 times before the riders dismount to take on a full marathon. The 26.2 mile run course goes from Horwich into Bolton town centre, where athletes are cheered on and congratulated by hundreds of spectators. Around the closed roads of the 140.4 mile race circuit, an organiser at a feed station estimated that a good few thousand people were out and about to see these
crazy psycho’s athletes race, many of which will be spectating for around 17 hours.
I went over to the Euxton railway bridge to catch a glimpse of a few members of my triathlon team who had entered. I had never expected so many people and so much positivity and encouragement. Spectators were shouting, ringing bells, blowing horns and clapping every rider that passed. Just off the road was a number of food stales and music vans to keep the spectators motivated and full of energy. By the time I arrived the racers were already on their second lap of the bike route. Some riders looked better than others, many riders were keeping inside their own zones, and others appeared as though they were about to collapse.
Having seen the athletes come around the sweeping right turn I got to thinking ‘I could do this’. I think anyone could do it with the right training and some entry level equipment. There is probably only 20% of athletes who would place themselves in the competitor/elite category whereas the other 80% are simply aiming to finish. Even though I have had a little success in the shorter distances of triathlons, the IronMan distance is something I would be happy just to finish. However, having thought about it in more detail, racing for 10, 11, 12 hours is not something that attracts me too much. The one thing that these IronMan athletes will always have over me is that phrase in a conversation…’I have done an IronMan’. That phrase is probably the only reason I would like to complete one.
All in all, it was such a buzz to see so many different types of people taking part in this race, and for that, I am inspired. And, as I type this blog, I am thinking of those people who are now on the running course, because it has just starting raining.
Maybe i’ll do this in a year or two, when i’m more of a