Triathlon; Ironman 70.3 Wimbleball

Before you gasp and ask, "did she?!", I certainly did not. My boyfriend along with 2 of our friends/ training partners did however. Before I write anything, I have to say a huge well done and congratulations to all of them because they were absolutely incredible. I mean seriously amazing! Here's a little recap of this weekend's Ironman 70.3 Triathlon in Wimbleball.

First let me just say that Exmoor National Park, where the event is held, is probably one of the most boring places on Earth. If you can find a phone signal there you must have some kind of direct line to God because I couldn't get one for love nor money. There is nothing. N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

For the uninitiated, an Ironman 70.3 consists of,

Swim 1.9k / 1.2miles 
Bike 90k / 56miles
Run 21.1k / 13.1miles

It's called a 70.3 because the distance is 70.3 miles in total. It's not for the faint hearted.

Friday, Pre-Pre Race
My boyfriend registered on the Friday as we got there a day early. Once signed on the dotted line he received his welcome bag. The welcome pack consists of a colour coded swim hat depending on your starting wave, temporary tattoos with your race number on and a few other bits all wrapped up in a nice Ironman backpack! I'm more of a Mulberry handbag kinda gal but i have to admit, they did look pretty cool!

There was also an opportunity to do a practice swim which was a good idea to get a feel for the water and shake off a few nerves. The support crews/WAGs/HABs (I think that works!) were so friendly and chatty. I was there alone so having fellow WAGs to share stories of our other halves temperamental ways with, was most welcome!
We also took the time to have a drive around the bike course. As we hadn't been to Wimbleball before (nor will we go again) it was our first opportunity to scout out the route. To be honest- I fell asleep. As a non-competitor this is quite boring and being in the car for so long is very sleep inducing. I was told that it was "ridiculous", "unbelievably hilly" and that it "just goes up and up and up and there is no downhill". Judging by the look on his face, I took his word for it.

Saturday, Pre Race
Back to the lake, this time for the all important Race Briefing. This was competitor only so I can only report back what I was told. It seemed like a really friendly, fun introduction which I thought was nice as more
than 50% of the racers where doing this race for the first time. I heard a lot of laughter and clapping from my position sunning myself on the grass. They were given warnings about a few sharp turns on the bike and told to ensure they had perfected their finish line celebrations for the all important photo finish!
The racers were also told how to pack their transition bags. From what I know, transition bags are an Ironman thing. I'm going to write a more detailed post about that coming soon so keep a look out!

Briefing done, the bikes were racked ready for Race Day.

Sunday, Race Day
So I complain about triathlons starting around 7am, for this race I got up at 3.30am!!! I was not happy! Not only that, it was bloody cold! As the day before had been so hot, most of the racers had let down their tyres so that they didn't burst in the heat. Given this, first order of business was the pump those babies back up! This done, last minute toilet dashes were made. Walking past, there was the distinct smell of fear. Grim.
Wetsuits were put on alongside supporters who were trying to apply sun-cream, anti-chafing cream, wetsuit glide and a manor of other lotions to their loved ones! I gave my boyfriend a kiss good luck and made my way down to the lake for the start of the swim. This was really exciting as all of the competitors walk down the same path so standing on the side, you see everyone. Klaxon sounded and they were off. A mere 22 mins later, some of the pros started running out of the water. They were already stripped to the waist of their wetsuit and were running up to transition. My boyfriend wasn't far behind being one of the first few out of the water (proud girlfriend moment!)

I sprinted up to transition just in time to see him, this time with bike shoes and a helmet on, running over to his bike. I shouted for him to safe and saw him run off to climb the vertical hills. With that, I went back to the car for a sleep. I needed it.
3 hours later, I walked back to where the racers would come out of transition and start their half marathon. The competitors all have their names on their race numbers so it's nice call out and cheer them on. It's unfortunate that the race belt sits on your hips though because I had to look at the racers' crotches in order to get their names. A lot of the soon-to-be-Ironmen dropped their energy gels and nutrition coming out of transition. An enterprising runner wouldn't have brought their own and would have just picked up what was dropped as there was a shop full on the floor!!!

The run was the best part from the spectator's point of view as it was all close together. They ran the loop 3 times and there was loads of opportunity to see your friend/family and cheer them on. The music was playing (loudly) and the MC was great, really riling up the crowd and getting them to cheer enthusiastically. After 6 long hours and 28 mins, my boy crossed the finish line.

I have never felt prouder. I got a sweaty kiss and he headed off for this finisher's hog-roast and massage. I went for more sleep.

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