IRONMAN 70.3 UK Exmoor
‘Held in Exmoor National Park, one of the most picturesque areas of England, Wimbleball Lake has been host to IRONMAN 70.3 UK since 2006. With many athletes choosing to camp on site, it has a unique atmosphere. The reputation of the event has been set by its rural location and the challenges of the bike course’.
‘The swim course is one lap, clockwise, starting 20m from the shore. The IRONMAN 70.3 UK Exmoor bike course is a tough two lap course right in the heart of Exmoor National Park. The course leaves Wimbleball lake and follows an anti clockwise loop through hilly terrain in a picturesque part of Somerset. The run at Wimbleball Lake is a three loop course on a mix of terrain including tarmac, hard pack trail and grass. The course remains firm underfoot even during prolonged bad weather. There is one short sharp climb in the course which is tackled three times’.
Blackburn Harriers Brian Fogarty, Paul Guinan and Paul Slone along with Ian Cox were competing in the Ironman 70.3 for the Fitt Team held in Exmoor National Park at the weekend an event which finished up with an amazing one thousand and eighteen finishers.
Brian Fogarty is in excellent form and is building up for the UK Championships being held in Bolton which is three weeks away. That form held up in Exmoor as he just missed getting onto the Podium by six seconds after competing in the Swim, Bike Ride and Run for a total time of 4hrs 35.16 – the third placed athlete finishing in 4hrs 35.10. Brian spoke to the Club after the Race had finished telling us that the “Uk 70.3 Ironman Wimbleball is regarded the hardest in the world, i can certainly see why. I went into this race high on confidence and really looking for a big performance. A had a good decent swim which helped me get into contention on the bike early. By 20 miles i lived a dream… i was actually leading an Ironman race!! i decided to roll the dice and push things for the second half of the bike. This worked well and i went into the run with a 2 minute lead. I ran to form and was holding good pace on a very challenging course. Unfortunately i was being chased down by 3 very fast runners and got past by 2 after 4 miles. My pace didnt drop and i felt 3rd place was secure until very late on when i got passed by another and got beat to 3rd by 5 seconds. This was very disappointing but i can take lots of positives from this race going into the big Goal of Ironman Uk in 3 weeks time”.
Paul Guinan was the next athlete home behind Brian in a very good 63rd place with an overall time of 5hrs 17.22. Apart from a couple of Half-Marathons recently, Paul hasn’t been able to compete that much after having to overcome a number of injuries over a pretty long period of time. After the event Paul told the Club that he was “Really pleased overall, but like any athlete always want a bit more, exited the water in 6th place after a solid swim, which did actually put a smile on my face and a bigger one on my daughters !! Unfortunately l could not hold that place on the Bike but held a decent place going into the run, solid enough throughout and finished strong, great to be part of FITT who all performed really well. Ian Cox had a great race and so did Paul Slone who is new to the sport, both very well done, but my admiration goes to my training partner and fellow Blackburn Harrier, Brian Fogarty, l have been with Brian right from the beginning, witnessed his first win some years ago and now leading an International race for a considerable time, quite amazing really, the talent and raw power he produces is quite incredible, taking lumps of time out of very high calibre athletes on the Bike is a special talent to have, and he has it, he was caught on the run but with some more work and good coaching over the winter hopefully he can hold that top place and win a major race, not only for FITT but also Blackburn Harriers”. Just over two minutes behind Paul, with another good performance, came Ian Cox in 76th place with his overall time being 5hrs 19 .55.
Paul Slone is an athlete with an inspirational story and an example of what can be achieved with mental toughness and a positive outlook. Paul came home in 424th place out of a field of 1018 finishers in the event with an overall time of 6hrs 16.12. What few people know about, is the battle that he has gone through, just to get to the point where he could race. When he responded to the Club for a comment about his Race experience he told us that it was “Such a tough course. Bike and run. Absolutely no let up on the bike course. Wimbleball is supposed to be the toughest 70.3 in Europe and for me proved that it is. For a beginner at 49 yrs old it was a real eye opener. Learnt a lot from this completing this race. Took advice and treated it as a hard training excercise rather than a race and I’m glad I did! Not for the faint hearted. Great warm up for the full IMUK in Bolton in a few weeks”.
It was only later than the Club found out exactly what he had endured in terms of his health, which for a lot of people would have been enough for them to call it quits. This is how Paul described his unbelievable journey in getting to compete in the Ironman “Twelve months ago I could only stand for short times. I have psoriatic arthritis and it manifested in chronic plantar fasciitis, double tennis elbow, double golfers elbow bad knuckles etc. Basically it’s psoriasis in each tendon where it attaches to the bone. Hadn’t ran for four years since my maiden marathon. Getting treatment now but got told off the docs to take up scuba diving! Zero impact. I told them I wanted to train for a marathon again. Doctors laughed as they do. So ironman it is! So tough in the body. I’ve also ruptured a bicep tendon two weeks ago swimming is a nightmare. My right arm swells like a rugby ball. Tendons in knee are agonising on the bike and in bits on the run. As they say in ironman. Anything is possible! Hopefully after this, the Bob Graham round penciled in for next April on my 50th!! Don’t think I’ll ever be on a podium but when you realise things are out of your grasp and you get a hint of a chance it becomes precious”.
JWK Morecambe Half Marathon – June 26th
Shaun Livesey (V40) and Paul Clarke (V55) were out at this relatively local Half-Marathon held in Morecambe at the weekend.
It turned out to be a pretty good decision by Shaun as he went on to win the Race comfortably by two and a half minutes and commented that he “decided to race on Sunday up at Morecambe over the half marathon distance. Had a look at the course on strava and there were a few quirks, there was a stretch on the beach that lasted for 300m and there was also a footbridge going over the railway line. Apart from that it looked like a flat fast course. I signed up on the day and at the start I looked around for any familiar faces (contenders) I didn’t see any and thought to myself it might be my day. The gun went and I went straight to the front. I had company for the first mile then that was it, I was by myself for the rest of the race. My focus was to try a keep a good pace but not have to work too hard, this proved difficult as the route turned back and into a slight headwind, but it was enough to slow my pace. There was also a section along the prom which was still under construction and I had to duck and dive around dogs and people in motorised scooters. I crossed the line in 1:18:06 5:59 pace reasonably pleased with my effort and my second race win of the year. I won a picture some bathroom scales and a nice bottle of wine for the wife”. Paul came home in 34th position overall with a time of 1.49.08.
Nearly two hundred athletes finished this tough Triathlon held in the Lakes last weekend and among them two Blackburn Harriers – V40’s Mark Bleasdale and Matt Nuttall – who were competing for the FITT Team.
It was a brilliant performance by Mark who finished 4th overall in the Race and 1st V40 in a time of 4hrs 46.15. Matt who has battled with injuries now for quite a long time, came home in 43rd place with a total time of 5hr 19.16 told the Club after the Race that he had no problem with injuries and felt good, running strong but a wrong turn on the Run cost him dearly and meant he had two miles further to run.