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Brutal Double Ironman

by / Wednesday, 23 September 2015 / Published in sport

I’m sat in my girlfriends house in Dublin relaxing after most prob one of the best experiences of my life. My body’s in bits but it’s somehow enjoyable in a weird kind of way, i’ve put it through hell and back and its enjoying its rest now.  After supporting my brother last year i decided to sign up for the Double Brutal this year and as most of you know i signed up with Mark Whittle (coach and ex GB triathlete) and started a training plan which started in January. Amphibia agreed to sponsor my challenge which was very kind of them along with Wingman who sponsored my support van. 

After 9 months of training and a month off running due to a knee injury the time had come to head north for Llanberis Snowdonia on Friday afternoon. Its mental how much organisation you have to have to prepare for this event. You get given a list of things i must have and things my support must have i.e compass, head torch, survival bag, whistle, maps blah blah blah the list goes on but its very important that you have the things listed for obvious reasons. To top it off you have to make sure you have all your kit along with enough nutrition to feed a small city. I decided to buy two huge tupperware boxes one full of potatoes and one full of pasta which will provide me with enough carbs to fuel my fire and keep me trucking. I’m not one for those sticky gels so i decided to go 100% organic and made a load of energy balls out of seeds, nuts, dates etc and they tasted bloody good.  I had everything in place or at least i thought i did. My head was doing summersaults hoping id remembered everything and if you know me personally you’ll know my brains on the dead side most of the time and I’m very forgetful so leaving my house as i was locking my door that feeling of “what have i forgot” was at 10 out of 10. 

I drove up with Rob who kindly agreed to support me for the weekend so we went to pick up my brother who was signed up for the triple brutal and headed north to Snowdon. We arrived at the heights pub where we’d be staying for the night had some food then myself and my bro went to register and listen to the pre-race brief. Good to see some familiar faces at it from the year before along with people we’ve met off twitter etc.  The butterflies were really starting to kick in so i told myself just 3 pints before bed to help me sleep but i ended up having 4 in the end………….yep thats right i even counted them he he. Kirsty (a good friend i’ve known for a long time who’s currently filming a documentary about me and my journey to the double) and Jade turned up loaded with camera equipment and at 10pm we decide it was time to get our heads down as we were up at 5am. We were all in one dorm room of bunk beds and started pissing about until we all passed out. 

 

I woke at 4am and didn’t sleep the best but at 5am we all got ready and headed down to park our vans at transition next to the lake ready for the 7am swim start. It was cold and dark but that was the least of my worries, i had a very long 2 days in front of me so i was trying to focus on my goal. I fueled up with bananas, Kaged Muscle Pre charge and a coffee and before i knew it i donned my wetsuit, i invested in a neoprene undervest with and attached hood from City Surf and i can honestly say it was a very sensible investment on my behalf. After experiencing how cold that water was in May when i did the Slateman Tri it really kept me warm and stopped that flushing down the back of my neck.  6.45am i shook my brothers hand and wished him good luck and into the water we went. Its hard to explain the feeling at this point but when you know you’ve trained for 6 days a week 9 months of the year and worked for this moment knowing there’s a long way to go and a lot to go through before you finish, the moment can get quite emotional. The waters full of people all in the same boat as you along with a grass bank full of their families and loved ones all there wishing them the best for whats to come. Its an area full of positivity and its a great to see, i love it. 

7am and off we go, 4.8 mile swim ahead of me and there’s a nice little chill to the water and like any Tri start it takes a while to get your bearings but as soon as you do your off. After my first lap i slipped into “the zone” and i had a good pace going and felt really good, the water had mist just hovering above it and i could see the sun about to come up over the mountain, the whole setting was unreal. My endorphins were pumping and i was loving the moment, 2 laps then out and over the timing mat and a quick feed to fuel my swim. It was 8 laps along with getting out over the timing mat 4 times before i could go to my bike. The whole swim i enjoyed, struggled a bit on my last lap but all was good and outta the water and into the van to change ready for my 224 mile 8 loop bike ride. It was blue sky and the sun was beaming down so it was perfect weather conditions for cycling. I heard my brother was smashing the swim and was way in the lead which was amazing.  I jumped on my bike and started my cycle and the course started to come flooding back to me (supported my brother on it last year) and was greeted with my first hill, the bike course has a few steep hills to start then its pretty decent until you get to the Pen-y-pass climb which is at least a 5 miles of constant climbing. don’t get me wrong, its a great climb but it really takes it out of you. As you reach the top its a full steam ahead descent into llanberis before you start it all again. My legs were still adjusting from the swim on my first lap then pulled over to my support vehicle and Rob had my pasta all cooked ready for me along with refills for my drink bottles and away i went for my second. I was on such a high on my second lap with all my endorphins kicking in i was loving it but at the same time reminding myself to keep disciplined as it wont be long before the distance, time and daylight will fade and its gonna get really hard and lonely. I tried to get as many miles as i could before it got dark and i think i got 120 miles in which i was happy about. each loop was an average of 2 hours but the later and the more tireder i got the longer the laps were. 

It was about 1am and i was really starting to struggle, i was finding it really hard to get food down my neck as i was so exhausted but i had to get it down to fuel my rides or i wouldn’t make it around so every stop was made up of pushing pasta or potatoes covered in Dolmio sauce down my neck just to give me that energy to cycle. Id leave my support vehicle and most of the course would be really tough and just as i started the Pen-y-pass climb the food kicked in and got me to the top every time which was great. At about 4am and 180 miles in i proper hit a dark patch, my body was f**ked, i was freezing cold and my mind was playing tricks with me. So much so i was cycling with Kirsty and Rob in the support car behind and i was tripping my face off, i could see geese on the road and every tree and all the walls had faces looking at me. I tried and tried to shake it off but it wasn’t happening so i took 10 mins just to sit down for a rest before i started cycling again. Fair play to Rob and Kirsty, if it wasn’t for them i could be still there talking to a rabbit or something haha. I forced a little more food down my neck and got back on my bike then up came the climb again and i got to the top again. My last but one bike loop i felt ready strong and got a really good time considering my last lap, but i knew these things only last a short while in endurance racing and i wasn’t far wrong. My last lap of the bike was ok to start with then the last half of it was a killer. Kirsty still behind me in the car for support but i made it to the top of that mountain for the last time knowing it was all downhill to the support van before it was time to hit up Snowdonia. That feeling of knowing i passed another major hurdle in the triathlon was pretty special. 

 

I got to the van and had to get changed into my running stuff ready to climb snowdon but i started to have my second dark patch. I turned the camera on on my phone to see how wrecked i was and realised my face was grey along with that i got really paranoid and thought everyone was looking at me for some stupid reason. Lets be honest, they most probably were thinking “look at the state of that thing” hahaha. I felt bad but i had to get up that mountain before i could start my run to the finish. 52 miles of climbing and running ahead of me i went to get the all clear off the medic to tell me i was fit enough to climb Snowdonia and he agreed……….he needs to go to specsavers haha.

On top of the World

On top of the World

 

Rob had 4 bananas with him and a few bottles of lucazade to get me to the top, it wasn’t enough so had to pinch a medics food half way up. The weather was ok at the bottom but it was windy and wet up top but we slowly but surely climbed it bit by bit until we reached check in at the summit. I’ve been up and down Snowdon many a time and i love the mountain so i know going down is harder than going up especially when my legs have been through what they’ve been through.  We made it up and we made it down and all i had to do now was 8 laps of running the lake before i could call myself a double Brutal finisher.  Just before i went on my run my brother came driving up in the van with his support Paul both not looking very happy. It suddenly dawned on me that my brother was driving and that wasn’t right. He got out of the van and said he had to quit due to complete exhaustion. I was gutted for him, really gutted for him. i knew how much he wanted it and I knew he was gonna beat himself up for it and I’m sure we all would but to be honest my brother doesn’t quit that easily so he must have been really bad. He was first out of the swim and was leading the bike all the way up to the 9th bike lap until he had to retire so if you ask me he rocked it. His first bike lap was 1 hour and 40 mins too hahaha. He’ll come back stronger you watch.

 

My support for the run loops were Paul, Rob and one of my friends from back home Warren who was up filming a surf event for Red Bull up at that new surf place. The first loop was all good and my plan was to run the first half of the run as it was flat but the second half of the run goes up into the forest and is more of a trail run so i would walk the hills and shuffle about the rest until i got back to base and start another loop. The first 20 miles went pretty easily considering and i think that was thanks to having someone to run with and talk to and have a laugh with so it takes your mind off the pain. 

If i kept up my pace it was looking like id finish at 11.30pm so i tried my best to keep it up but the further i got the harder it got so i slowed up a bit. It started to get dark so i put my head torch on and went for one lap on my own which ended up being quite interesting as it was pitch black in that forest and i kept thinking someone was following me and once again started tripping a little from lack of sleep haha.  It came to the last lap and i could smell the finish, its amazing no matter how f**ked you are when you know the finish is round the corner you all of a sudden perk up. I could see the finish in sight my legs like lead, my body in a absolute mess and my mind racing knowing it was all about to finish. 

The glorious finish line

The glorious finish line

I crossed the line in 41.08 hours at about midnight.  I’ve never done anything as hard as that in my life, i put myself through a huge physical and mental challenge and i’ve never felt such a feeling of achievement when i crossed that line, i was proud of myself as many a time i felt like giving up but battled it and I’m still buzzing now 3 days later and i think it’ll continue for a while. I went to my hotel room and went for a well deserved sleep saying never again. I woke up feeling different, i want to do a Triple so i phoned my brother when i got home as i heard he was trawling the net for another triple ironman. It looks like were both signing up for the Enduroman triple ironman next June 2016. Bring it on

 

A massive thanks to all that followed my journey, to Amphibia, Brutal events, wingman, Agile therapy cardiff for looking after my knee and flushing out my legs whilst training. All that supported Rob, Paul, Kirsty. Jade and Warren. Well done to all that day, what a great weekend that was.

Happy Man

Happy Man

 

I did do the event for charity but my web site’s in the process of being made and there’ll be a link on there if you like to donate.

 

P.S if you think your gonna do a double without gels like i did then you’ve got another thing coming haha

Ed: Congrats and thanks Pritch, its been an amazing journey following you for the past 9 months and delighted you finished with a smile. Get a bit of rest in before June 🙂

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