Ironman UK Bolton

[Mon 23rd Jul]

 

On a very warm sunny morning I dragged myself, my partner and the kids out of bed at 03.00hrs to head to Pennington Flash Lake to begin my Epic adventure. Weetabix times 3 and a large green banana followed by some extra strong high5 4 in 1 energy drink consumed and off we went.

 

Text Box:  We arrived at the lake at 03.45 along with 1500 other potential Ironmen & women and you could feel the fear and suspense. Everyone either stone faced and silent or queuing nervously to use the portaloo before donning the wetsuit for the start of the race. At 5.30 the announcer called for silence while the national anthem was played and it made me feel proud to be here. Once this was over he announced a group of athletes called TEAM TRUE SPIRIT who are soldiers that have been injured on Operations around the world and have undergone rehabilitation Text Box:  
Ready for the water
at Headley Court. These injuries vary from PTSD to triple amputees and these men and women have already more than gained the right to be called Ironmen just for being here today. It brought a tear to my eyes.

 

We then entered the water, all 1500 athletes cramped into a 200meter starting line waiting for the horn to start the 2.4mile swim. I knew that due to the numbers and the fact that everyone would be fighting for a space that it would be a brutal start but I thought this would fade as the race progressed but this wasnít the case and at each large orange buoy we were channelled into an area of confrontation. None of this is intentional but unfortunately due to the mass start itís an inevitable part of the swim. I exited the water in a respectable time of 1hr 13mins. I ran a few hundred metres up a bank into the first transition area, T1.

 

Forget about the swim thatís over and youíve got a 112mile bike ride to do next. Cycle shoes and helmet on I left T1 with my bike and off I went. The route was 14miles to a loop, which we did 3 times, climbing 7,500 feet. This lovely undulating course Text Box:  
Darren's medal
has the infamous Sheep House lane placed right at the start of the loop so you have to climb this 2.2mile hill 3 times. Itís feared by most competitors but not by us Northumbrians who train week in week out at Rothbury and Otterburn (REAL HILLS). By this time the temp was heating up and at one stage during the bike it was 25įC and very windy. Both conditions Iíd have liked to avoid. The bike segment is about getting around as quick as you can but remember youíve still got the marathon to come so you need to avoid lactate build up as much as possible. You need to get your nutrition right on the bike and thatís something I practised every weekend. A high 5 gel every 20mins being topped up with Jelly babies and Ride shots, 8litres of Gatorade. 6hrs 22mins and the cycle part is complete. Into T2 and get your head ready for the Marathon.

 

Trainers on along with my sun visor and out the door and onto the Marathon. We all know how demanding Marathons are but putting it at the end of the 2.4mile swim & 112mile bike is just cruel. Off I trundled in the sweltering heat again following an 11mile lane to join a 3 lap loop of Bolton Town centre. People told me you will hear the word canít in your head through out the day but you donít have to listen and in the words of Sir Winston Churchill if you are going through hell, keep going. Both sayings stayed with me throughout the day and spurred me on. The pain is immense and you need to focus on everything, except pain, and itís hard. Seeing my Family on each lap was wonderful and the crowds were amazing and they lined the complete loop in their thousands. I finished the Marathon in 4hrs 12mins to cross over the finish line in a very good time of 11hrs 57 and I heard the words Iíd been dreaming of during the last 6 months of training, DARREN NOBLE YOU ARE AN IRONMAN.

 

Looking back at the day and some of the sights I witnessed have inspired me to do it again. Iím off to Austria next June for IM Klagenfurt. Team True Spirit moved me in such a way that Iíd like to urge you all to look who they are and what they do and remember the Ironman Mantra, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

 

Darren