On 19th September 2021, I took part in Ironman Weymouth 70.3. This was originally scheduled for 2020, but it was unfortunately cancelled because of covid. In 2020 we still came to Weymouth to enjoy a long weekend, and we loved it so much, we were always going to come back. I have never officially taken part in an Ironman 70.3, although I have completed 4 Ironman. My first Ironman was actually Ironman Weymouth 2016. This was the inaugural event for Ironman and the only year they had the full and 70.3 alongside each other. Since then they have just had the 70.3.
This weekend is much more than taking part in an event for me. Weymouth is a lovely location, and we stay in a Caravan at Haven. The good thing is that Haven is only 2 miles away from the bike racking and swim start, so ideal. We arrived on the Friday, and I tried to minimise the amount of impact the event has on our family time together. I am very aware that with events like Ironman, there is a lot of bits I have to do, and I want to balance that with ensuring my family have fun too.
I had dramas trying to get my bike to Weymouth this year. Long story short, I had to hire a bike last minute. It was far from ideal, and a bike that is no where near as good as the bike I am currently riding. But it had two wheels and I was grateful to be able to get hold of one a short notice. I ran 2.4 miles on Saturday morning to pick up my bike, then cycled it back to where I was staying. I then made my way to Registration, which was nice and easy. As standard with Ironman you get your bag as part of entry, along with your bib and swim hat which you both use for the swim, and get to keep. I always pick up a new visor and a top, as the top always has the Mdot on the back made up of the names of everyone taking part.
Once I had all my stuff sorted I then packed all my kit into the bags provided for transition, then cycled to rack my bike. Again, racking was nice and easy, and we leave our bags in transition. This year they allowed us to access our bags on race morning, which isn’t always the case, but something I appreciated. This meant I did not need to leave my trainers, and also meant I could bring fresh water for the bike and also one for my run, on race morning. When you leave racking you are given your timing chip ready for race day.
I arranged to meet my family at Fantasy Island so we could have lunch and the kids could have a play. Timing was perfect, I did all the organising needed in the morning whilst the kids had a swim at Haven and everyone else got ready, so it didn’t interfere with everyone’s fun. On the walk to Fantasy Island I went past the set up for the swim, and the sea was beautiful.
We had a lovely day as a family, then a lovely meal, with just a little bit of pre race hydration. But then it was time to get serious. I planned to leave at 05:00 in the morning, and so an early night was needed for me to get up at 04:30. Of course I could have left a little later and got a lift to the start, but this is the benefit of staying about 2 miles away, there was no need to wake anyone else up, as it was just a gentle walk to the start. To be honest, they say get there about 90 minutes early, and I was there just after 5:40 for a 07:20 start, but it really isn’t necessary. I would always rather be early and prepared, than risk being stressed and running late. I put my bottles on my bike and checked the tyres, everything was fine. I added my trainers to my run bag and a bottle filled with electrolytes. Then I was done.
I took a stroll to check out the sea and it was calm. I had over an hour to wait, so I decided to lie on the grass for half an hour. I rested my eyes and just relaxed. It was nice just laying there. At about 06:30 I decided to get my wetsuit on, and drop off my street clothes bag. I took a wonder and seeded myself between 40 minutes and 50 minutes, as I was hoping for 45. Obviously 40 would be nice, but I thought 45 was more realistic. We waited a long time in the start queue, and some people were going for a pre race swim. It was cold in the morning, and the last thing I wanted to do was get wet then stand in the cold. The race was delayed until 07:30, they didn’t say why, but with my watch ready to start time seemed to take forever.
Swim – 49:01
But then it was time, we were off. It took a while to get into the water, but I placed myself on the outside. The route was a large triangle keeping the buoys on our right. The water was surprisingly nice, I had expected to to feel cold, but it wasn’t. It was also calm, but it didn’t stop my swallowing half the ocean. I went intentionally wide as I didn’t want to get crowded. The last Ironman I completed I had a panic attack, and although in general I’m a strong swimmer, when I the water with with group of triathletes, I’m really slow in comparison. Confidence is something I lack on the swim, so a lot of time is wasted when I could just put my head down and swim stronger. I am hoping it will come in time. I stayed pretty much on my own for the entire swim, and I probably should have stayed more in the pack. At 1900 metres I had taken just over 40 minutes, which I would have been super happy with, but I swam about an extra few hundred metres, so finished in 49:01. It’s not what I wanted, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not too far off. I’m not the fastest, and I’m towards the back of the field on the swim, but I’m ok with that, room for progress.
T1 – 7:42
T1 is long. You get out the water on the pebble beach, then have to run perhaps 300 metres to get to transition, then change wetsuit and get bike gear on, before collecting bike and heading off. Overall easily 500 metres to run, so I don’t think I wasted much time at all in transition.
Bike – 3:27:50
I jumped on the bike and got off to a good start. The bike is heavier than mine, and my bike is aero and more aggressive. This does not play to my strengths, as I have a habit of plodding on the bike, so have to concentrate to keep the effort on. So this bike made it much easier to plod rather than push myself.
I got a lovely surprise only a couple of miles into the bike. I had forgotten that I went past Haven and my family were there waiting to cheer me on, such a lovely boost. I spent the rest of the ride doing fairly well I thought. I could make lots of excuses about the bike, and to be fair this bike was noticeably slower than my bike, but I did the best I could. It’s not classed as a hilly course, and only has one major hill around the 38 mile mark. But it is undulating, and it feels like you are constantly going up or down. I don’t make as much time up on the down as I lose on the ups, so it made for a slower ride for me.
I had wanted to try and get sub 3, and think I’m in shape for it, but I realised early on it wasn’t going to happen, and 3:27 isn’t what I wanted, but I was happy that I got through and rode strong. Again, I finished low down in the field, but slightly better than the swim, so I will take that as a success.
My kids went with the grandparents to Monkey World, I thought it would be nicer for them to go and have an adventure (secretly jealous that I couldn’t go), meanwhile my wife was on Cheer duties with the dog. I must say, I’m impressed with how much we saw each other. She had managed to get to the bike finish in time to catch me finish.
T2 – 3:47
Transition 2 is nice and easy. I probably could have gone a little quicker, but happy to take my time to make sure I’ve got everything.
Run – 1:46:09
I entered the run thinking I would try and hold a 7 min mile. I stopped for a wee to start, as although I could probably have held it, it was uncomfortable. It was a hot lovely day. Too hot for running, but to be honest it’s usually cold and wet, and I would take the sun any time. The run route is 2.5 laps, and flat. I just didn’t have the desire to stick to the 7 min mile plan. It would have been hard and wasn’t worth it, so instead I decided to stay with 8 min miles.
Kirsty and Teddy saw me twice in every lap (out and back) and it was great looking out for them. This and the frequent aid stations which were every couple of miles, helped break up the run.
I think Teddy had a lovely day, but will definitely sleep well tonight after all that walking.
There isn’t a lot to say about the run. The seafront was packed and the support was amazing. Literally people cheering you every step of the 13 miles. I held a steady pace which meant I spent the whole race overtaking people. My finish position for the run was significantly better than the swim and bike, which is to be expected. The best thing is, I wasn’t on full throttle. Its the swim and bike I need to improve, and when I do that justice I will absolutely have a go at hitting the run hard, but I don’t see the point when it’s not going to make a huge difference. Instead I enjoyed the run, and enjoyed spotting my family on the way.
Overall – 6:14:28
I had wanted 5:30, but certainly sub 6, but you know what, the time doesn’t always tell the story. I have had a lovely time in Weymouth with family, and the 70.3 was fantastic.
I can’t fault the organisation of the event, it went smoothly from start to finish, and couldn’t ask for more.
The medal was awesome, how often do you get a dinosaur on your medal. You also receive a quality running tee at the finish. As I approached the finish I was flying, I am always mindful not to get in anyone’s way for their photo so either sprint ahead or ease back. There were a couple of people who remained in the finish in front of the photographers so hopefully I’ve got a good finish photo.
I am not sure why they changed the finish process as I remember going into a big hall last time. Perhaps it’s because of covid restrictions. I turned the corner from finish line expecting to get a photo with my medal, but I just joined a long queue which took 20 minutes, and we queued to get our tees and bags. We were also given some snack items and pizza, although the pizza had ran out when I arrived. This was a shame, and a few around me had been looking forward to it. I didn’t mind about the pizza, but improvements to the length of the queue would be good. Apart from that queue, everything was perfect, well done Ironman.