The Incredible IronMan Journey…

Wow, wow, wow, wow!!!

Thank you to everyone who helped, supported, sponsored and cajoled over the last 6 months.

The idea was born, like most great/crazy ideas, after one too many glasses of red wine and surrounded by friends. To be exact, I was at Glorious Goodwood last year thanks to my old friend Kevin Sell.

I, Kevin and another friend, Tod Harrison, got talking about 2 marathon places I had secured for the prestigious London Marathon on behalf of the charity DELTA. Tod is a veteran of Iron distance triathlons so I floated the idea of turning the mere 26+miles into something a little more ‘spicy’. Tod thankfully agreed because I was hoping to tap into his experience.

Planning the event

The start of the Virgin Money London Marathon waits for no person; so I had to plan the event working backwards from a10:10 ‘Red’ start at Blackheath on Sunday the 26th of April. This meant a 22:10 swim start on Saturday the 25th of April and a midnight start on the bikes.

Training

From about October 2014 I upped the training, which peaked at an additional 20,000 calories a week burnt. This equates to a lot of eating. If I wasn’t working, sleeping, with the family, or training then you can guarantee I was eating. Actually, while I was doing all those other things (maybe not sleeping) I was generally eating. My colleagues at work can vouch for the constantly empty biscuit cupboard.

The hours spent training is really thanks to the patience of my darling wife, Rhian. Most weekends were disrupted by the call of the ‘triathlon’, but Rhi remained absolutely supportive. As some of you know I hit the landmark age of 40 last year and Rhi has always stated that there are worse ways to experience a mid-life crisis…

Tod’s set back and Pete

Early in the New Year Tod pulled out of the event because of a severe back injury (caused by an Ironman event) which required surgery. With literally days remaining before the entrants to the Marathon had to be finalised I was a man down. Pete Gray answered the call to step in and attempt the full Iron distance triathlon. Now Pete is a good runner and cycles a little, but at that moment in time he pointed out to me his ‘swimming needed work’. So not only was he at least 2 months behind in training, he also needed to learn to swim! He duly set about taking improvement lessons.

I can’t thank Pete enough for taking up the challenge and helping to make the event. I am also really pleased to say that Tod’s back is now on the mend.

The event

IronMan

The event started at the Didcot Wave 25m swimming pool on the Saturday night. We timed the start of the 155 lengths swim so that the 3 simmers would finish together. This went to plan and we all finished within 2 lengths of each other. The third swimmer in the pool was Aaron Batterby; Aaron is a colleague at Sophos and we regularly completed ‘mind numbing’ distances together at the Abingdon pool while others ate their sandwiches. Thanks Aaron!

IronMan
A quick change and we headed out for London on the bikes. I assembled a merry band to complete the 112 miles to London. This was a challenging ride because of the lack of sleep, the weather and of course the distance.

4 things from the ride will really stick in my memory:

1) How agonizingly cold it got in the first 2 hours of the ride in monsoon like conditions and at 3oC in Benson. At one point we were huddled around cups of coffee under the canopy of a BP garage.

2) This was the furthest one of our team had ridden ever (by a long way) and was his first century ride – well done Ashley!

3) It was fun trying to guess which part of Pete’s bike would fall off next; it was like riding behind a cartoon character with bits of bike flying past both ears. It was touch and go whether he would need to start the run early….

4) The latitude shown by the Met police; letting the support vehicles and bikes through 2 barricades as we approached the Marathon course.

Beyond me and Pete the cycling team was: Ben Morgan, Ashley Amies, James Chadney, Rhys Sharp, Joe Middleton and James Silvey.

London Marathon

After a quick shower at Metropolitan Electrical’s offices Pete and I headed for the start of the Marathon. It struck us when we arrived how fresh everyone else looked! Pete led the way from the start and I think he was trying to catch Paula. After 18 consecutive 9 minute miles fatigue finally caught up with us. We both then really had to dig deep to finish; we must have looked a shambles together and our shared conversation was far from lucid.

IronMan

Thankfully after 4hours and 31minutes we stumbled across the line together (Pete has said he wants to go back and beat the guy dressed in a blue wolf suit that passed us with just yards to run….).

Support team

We had amazing support for the event and 1000s even lined the streets of London to will us on. During the ride 4 great people in 2 (warm) vehicles drove with us to offer sustenance and importantly mechanical support. I can’t imagine following a group of lycra clad men through the night for 8 hours is much fun. Thanks and huge kudos goes to Dave Darrock, Nick Baum, Dan Middleton and Rhian Atkins.

Also thanks to Crossflight for providing a van for the evening.

Individual and corporate sponsors

Adding our offline sponsors to the JustGiving total we raised an amazing £8.5k. I’m sure I speak for the whole team involved in this slightly mad and unique caper when I say the scale of your generosity made a massive difference to the event. When pain levels reached new highs your support gave us the strength to dig deep and carry on.

I want to take this opportunity to also thank our corporate sponsors who not only gave money, but also resources to make the event possible and ensure every penny given by you can be used directly by DELTA.
– Sophos (Nick Bray)
– Cloudsense (Richard Britton)
– Crossflight (Ben Morgan)
– Metropolitan Electrical (Rob Warner)
– Didcot Wave Leisure Centre (Josh Roper)

DELTA

Rhi and I would also like to thank everyone involved on behalf of DELTA. We are both trustees of the charity and have seen firsthand the difference DELTA can make to the lives of deaf children and their families.

THANK YOU!!     Duncan (Ironman) Atkins