Alan Minister, one of our Link members, recently completed a sponsored "half iron man" challenge, raising a very significant amount of money for the Link in the process. Here is his report and some photos:

After having taken part in a few Olympic distance triathlons (at far from Olympic timings) myself (Alan Minister), Tim Styles and Neal Coles decided that we needed a different challenge, so we hit upon the idea of doing an event which sounded a bit harder - a half ironman. As channel 4 put it the other day when televising it, there is nothing 'half' about the event where you swim 1.2 miles and cycle 56 miles as a warm-up to a half marathon! Unfortunately, We did not research all of the half ironman events (yes there are more than one in the UK every year) to find the easiest one, oh no, we picked the one which was a new course and so had no write-ups of past events. This meant that there was no warning for us that on the bike ride there were over 50 hills on the bike section (more or less one every mile, although several felt much linger than that!). The organisers were very kind to us though and borrowed a road sweeper from the local council to clean the route!The start line
Tim had booked a pitch on the campsite alongside the startline and I shared the tent with him to get that extra 30 minutes of sleep on race morning. Neal opted for a night in a comfortable bed at his Aunt's. All that said we got up at 4:30 for a quick breakfast and a cup of tea and then a walk to the start line barefoot and in a wetsuit to the start (see photo). The lake did not look very inviting, however, it was warm and as calm as a mill pond. We all started at different times and Neal was lucky enough to have his bike next to the eventual winner, Chris McCormack, who had time for a chat

Once we started the first hard part (apart from avoiding all of the kicks & punches from wayward arms and legs at the start) was staying on our feet after over half an hour in the water and then getting the wetsuit undone (why are the zips down the back!) followed by having to run up the hillside to change into our cycling kit. The bike leg was not so bad, although I confess to walking up part of the steepest hill on both laps having decided that this was better than going too slowly to be able to keep my balance and falling off as several others did (there is a downside to shoes being clipped to the pedals). the best part of the bike was getting off at the end and not falling over (wobbly legs seem to be part of the effect of a triathlon). The run leg was three laps along the shore of the lake/reservoir, which meant that after the first lap you knew just how bad the next bit was, however, all three of us managed to see each other on the run, which was reassuring.We finished!

Tim completed the race in the fastest time of 6 hours 7 minutes (he then went on to do the full ironman event in August in just over 12 hours - yes that is twice the swim, cycle and run!), I completed it in 6 hours 25 minutes and Neal (whose knee nearly gave up on the last lap of the run) finished in 7 hours 40 minutes (hence Tim & I are holding him up in the photo). Having finished the race (and got out breath back) we then spent some considerable time eating lots of really bad (but tasty) burgers, sausage rolls and Coke! The event has since been cited as possibly the hardest course (evidenced by Chris McCormack's time being 20 minutes off his best time - he finished in 4 hours 18 though!

All in all a good day (or two) out and with the added benefit of raising over £3500 for the Chernobyl Children Life Line (we raised £1755 in sponsorship, which our employer, BAE Systems, matched). Just got to plan something for next year - there was idle talk of cycling between all of our offices, now where is that map...


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