St George, Utah

Leaving Kona my Shuttle Bus didn’t turn up and I was at the end of my road, so spent £6 on my phone, to no avail and, for some reason, my Revolute card declined to pay Uber. But, over the road a camper van stopped that, which I thought might be the Shuttle. But, it was just a bloke, turns out he was 76 also and an IM vet so guess what – free ride to the airport!

Kona airport was very quiet, only one bike box rather than a ’sea’ of boxes. No wonder some were delayed getting home.

Kona Airport

Flew overnight to Phoenix, then onto St George. At the last moment I decided to rent a car and thought I should have just taken a direct flight to Las Vegas and driven from there. Glad I didn’t as speaking to some Brits Las Vegas was a nightmare both getting their baggage and sori g out and getting their rental car, plus a drive in the dark. Phoenix to St George was a doddle, in my hire car with thirty minutes of landing!

St George Airport

So pleased I did get the car, no one walks and it really is not conducive, it’s BIG, lots of four or six lanes, even in the town centre, ’millions’ of gas guzzling cars and more like a sprawling industrial estate!

My ’digs’ are great, if somewhat quaint, enormous suite with kitchen, breakfast included (you make your own waffles!) and it wouldn’t be out of place in a Hitchcock film set in the 50’s. Chose it because it’s only one mile from the buses that take you to the start (not allowed to drive there) and a mile from the finish.

Day One – excluding arrival day

Put the bike together, road it several blocks down to registration – fabulous atmosphere and everyone very chatty.

Had a full body massage with Byron, who is here for a number of the professionals. Karlyn introduced me to him and he ’did’ my legs after the IM.

Drove out to the swim start and did a few miles on the bike, felt great.

Sand Hollow State Park

Roads are amazing, tarmac goes on for ever and they just roll up and down. Wasn’t till I cycled them, I realised how gruelling they were!

Day Two

Had intended an early swim. Didn’t set my alarm, woke up at 6, great, then next time I looked at my watch it was 7:55. Whoops, quick breakfast and 30 minute drive to Sand Hollow Reservoir. Queues of cars from all directions, overflow parking all over the show, long queues just to get into the water. I nipped in, along with a handful of others, away from the marked course. Didn’t need a long swim, just test the temperature of the water, which was fine but I will come out slightly chilled and the air is COLD. Will go and buy a ’beenie’ and probably do a complete change in T1 so I can make the most of the fabulous, fast undulating bike course. Last bit, five miles up Snow Canyon then down five miles on the main road and onto T2.

Sand Hollow Reservoir – swam from the jetty
Steady Climb
Snow Canyon
Last bit, fast back to T2

Parade if Nations, I just popped in and had a photo taken with the flag, when I noticed it was upside down. Found some officials who were mortified and got it changed.

Welcome Banquet, four miles from the town centre and again, just so many cars!! Approx 2000 female and 3500 male competitors.

Day Three

AWA breakfast, always good to meet others and hear the guest speakers, plus a cracking breakfast!

Down to T1 to rack my bike and bag, really cold wind! Got there early to avoid the queue of cars.

Afternoon down to Town Square to rack my run bag. Utah certainly embraces Ironman, no expense spared and it’s a BIG event, hoardings, walk overs, etc.etc.etc round every corner.

Day Four

Alarm at 4:00 onto the shuttle bus for Sand Hollow at 4:50 (no one is allowed to drive there), amazing logistics, 2000 competitors plus spectators, all bused in.

Once there we all asked ”Why so early?” Bitterly cold, 4 degrees, it soon looked like a refugee camp. Four of us Brits sat on the tail gate of a lorry for a bit of shelter. I’d bought a long, thick hoodie fleece from a charity shop to put over my only jacket, and to wear to the swim start, once just in my thin shortie, sleeveless wet suit.

I was looking forward to getting into the ’warm’ water, 17 degrees. We had the most spectacular views as the red hills lit up as the sun rose during our swim. The men had an even better sun rise.

Out of the water to freezing temperature, I thought they said 4C but I’ve seen a post that says 2C, apparently it drops another degree or so as the sun rises! Had considered changing, but had little to change into so towelled my tri suit as dry as possible, donned my wafer thin windproof and gillet on top. Had bought a beanie and stuffed the corners of a bin bag into my cycle shoes. Onto the bike course, shivering vigourously. I never really warmed up, occasional sun on my back was warm when sheltered from the wind, but no ’heat’, and in the shade and down hill it was freezing! Cycling with cold legs is not good, and I struggled to maintain the speed I had anticipated, with the long drags up the many, many smaller hills. Under normal conditions I probably could have made up more time on the down hills, but was conscious of my limitations and stayed safe rather than taking risks. My jackets stayed fastened up to my chin, but I did stop on Snow Canyon when I thought I had over a mile, and the steepest bit to climb and took off my beanie, turned out the top was just round the corner! Looked forwards to the last down hill section back to town, but it wasn’t as steep as I thought it would be and we had a cold head wind.!

Off the bike and onto the run, straight up hill for three miles, steady pace, about 10min/mile, felt good. Some little steeper bits through the golf course, walked them, then down hill back to town, round a few blocks and back up the hill, started walk running then, actually warmed up by now! They began to hand out ice, but I definitely didn’t need any. Would have liked to keep it under 11min/mile average but I was already heading to way over seven hours and knew I was in front of any competition, who eventually finished outside of the 8:30 time limit, and my legs were beginning to feel really tired………..

Job done, I came to get the World Title, I achieved that but not really with the performance I had hoped for.