Ironman Wales; Outside Looking In

Simply put: 2012 was a year of no triathlon for me.

I opted to take a year out, focus a bit more on my MTB riding and hopefully finish my Ph.D. without being in debt. Triathlon is not a cheap sport in any stretch of the imagination. Trying to do so on a student budget while also racing cyclocross and the odd MTB race was a recipe for debt. Add in multiple root canals and car problems and this year something had to give. I pretty much couldn’t afford to race this year, so a year out was the perfect solution.

Overall its been odd. I’ve gone to two separate Iron distance races, multiple short course races and bits and bobs in between. All of which I have been a spectator at. It was rather strange heading down to Tenby for IM Wales knowing that A) I was not racing B) I’d still be getting up at a stupid hour.

The drive down was not as long as I thought from North Wales and the land of Griffins, mostly back-roads and a few nice villages, easy to drive, but not fast going. Tenby was a great location for the race and by all accounts the locals were 100% behind the event – more than can be said for some bigger city IM races. Nice camp-site was accommodating, great food in the town, perfect swim location. All was good.

Race briefing was a little earlier than expected so we didn’t get to it on the Friday. We just about managed to get to the pasta party as the organisers decided we didn’t need to have it signed, we’d all just know where it was. This was pretty much a common occurrence for all briefings, locations or anything that involved meeting up. Overall the only poor bit of organisation I noticed, but a massive one. The pasta party was the usual UK attempt….not a patch on IM Lanza sadly.

5am on Sunday and I was getting up with Pauline to head down to the start, pack all the things as she gets ready and head to the village. Park up in the worlds least expensive, £2 for 2 hours, carpark and check the bike. Then waddle off to the swim start with all the other people. Wonderful morning, warm and calm. The water looked perfect. It wasn’t until this point that I wished I was racing.

Nice fast swim for Pauline in 1:03 before heading out on the bike. While I had breakfast and re-packed the van, the weather turned and it got windy and wet. I rode out to Saundersfoot and watched people struggle up the climb and realised it was going to be a long day for many. Wave and shout as Pauline rode past before heading back into the village to watch the leaders come in and then try to not get hypothermia waiting for Pauline.

Shivvering after shouting I changed and put on most of my clothes, weather had taken a turn and I knew that I’d have suffered badly on the bike. Running would keep others warm, chippy for me. The next few hours were spent cheering on people in the marathon, drinking coffee and generally wandering about before heading to the finishers chute to watch Pauline finish in 12:11.

Was strange to be a spectator at an IM event, but I can see why people come out and watch us race. People were all enjoying themselves, chatting and just relaxing as the spectacle rolled by. There were things to do, tat to buy and places you could relax. We may pay a lot for these M-dot events but they do deliver to more than just us the athlete. Quite a nice thought for the next time I’m plodding around one.

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