Booked in 2019 and postponed for 2020, the weekend of 18th July saw 4 members of Wight Tri travel to Eastbourne to take on either the full Ironman distance or the Half Ironman (70.3) Triathlon.
Daniel Morgan and Craig Wilson ventured for the longer distance, with this being Dan’s first (and in his words, the last!) ever Ironman Distance Triathlon. Neil Cooper and Paul Webb took on the half distance with Paul completing his first-ever half distance.
The 2 laps, 3.8km swim started with a jump off the end of Eastbourne Pier into calm waters that featured a strong current. Competitors initially swam along the bay before turning into the strong tide to swim back under the pier, which saw many competitors being carried past the turning buoys. Craig exited first of the 2 long course triathletes in 1:09:09 with Dan posting 1:14:22.
With a short run into transition, they then had only the 112-mile cycle to contend with. The course was split up with initial fast sections in A roads and dual carriageway before a return back into Eastbourne through small country lanes filled with potholes – and not forgetting the climb over Beachy Head at the 107-mile stage.
Being strong cyclists, both Dan and Craig made good progress passing many competitors and completed the route in 5:50:15 and 5:57:39 respectively. Although Dan was disappointed with his time, which was affected by the tough course and the 30c air temperatures, he posted the 37th fastest time on the day.
Posting the fastest bike to run transition, Dan headed out to the unknown as this was the first time he had attempted to run the full marathon distance. Craig knew what was in store as he has completed several Isle of Wight marathons.
By now the sun was at its hottest and with the seafront promenade offering no shade or chance to escape the heat, it made for a very tough run for both triathletes.
After the first 1/2 hour, Craig had to run/walk after feeling dizzy and realizing he couldn’t keep up the current pace in the heat. However, even with a very long slog of a run, improving towards the end when the heat subsided, he finished the 26.2 miles in 4:56:22.
Dan was experiencing a similar feeling with his desire to quit very strong, but with true grit and determination and with a combination of walking, shuffling and praying, Dan got over the finish line in 5:40:32.
Craig finished in 11:57:63 overall and Dan in 12:42:59, and achieved 46th and 75th overall from 221 competitors. Craig achieved a fantastic 5th place in the M50-54 age group and Dan 18th in 40-44 category.
Starting after the Ironman distance wave, Neil and Paul completed the Half Ironman Distance and even though it was shorter, they still experienced the same heat and tough conditions as Craig and Dan.
Being a strong swimmer and cyclist, Paul posted a very swift 30:46 for the 1900m swim, which was 1 lap of the Ironman course and 2:54:21 on the bike. With 2:54:41 for the run, he completed the course and achieved his first ever Half Ironman in 6:28:44, 26th in 45-49 Age Group and 194/281 overall.
Although Neil has completed this distance before, he still found the course tough due to the hot conditions. He was happy with his swim (41:49) and bike (3:11:19) and struggled on the run but still posted a very creditable 2:20:37 to take 23rd place in the 50-54 category and 179th overall.
Staffordshire 70.3 Ironman Triathlon
On the same day, Wight Tri member Russ Mellor travelled to the West Midlands to take on the 70.3 Ironman Triathlon.
The 1900m swim took place in Chasewater Lake, which Russ completed in a steady 49:38. Amazingly, Russ loved the 90km hilly bike route around the Staffordshire countryside as it was on closed roads throughout, making up lots of places with a 3:06:53 bike split. However, the 2-lap lumpy run, which took the runners along the River Sow and uphill towards Stafford Castle, was brutal in 32c temperatures; more of survival than posting a PB time!
He completed the run in 2:09:51 and was hugely glad to get around in 6:25:34 for 524th overall and 62nd in 50-54 AG, which was well into the top 1/2 of both categories.
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