I like to think that Mandy’s quest for success over the ironman distance was mainly driven by the desire to give me the opportunity to use that pun and now […]

I like to think that Mandy’s quest for success over the ironman distance was mainly driven by the desire to give me the opportunity to use that pun and now the day is here……..:-)

So here’s the thing……… Ironman is hard enough as it is. 17hrs limit to complete a 3.8km swim, 180km bike and a marathon is challenging enough on any course. But most athletes now recognise that Ironman Wales with it’s ludicrously hilly bike course, tough run and unpredictable weather probably presents the toughest Ironman challenge in the world.

So, up step the loonies……. Mandy, Mark Julier, James Sealey and Ed Britten all put themselves on the startlist for this years event. More on Mandy later but first the boys….

The sea conditions were very choppy to say the least and Mark’s excellent 1hr07min split (definitely worth a sub 60 on another day) put him in an excellent position heading out onto the bike. All the training kicked into place a shade over 6 hours later he was back in transition. So you know what i was saying about loonies…… just a few weeks before Mark had keyhole surgery on his knee – I’m guessing that his specialist didn’t say ‘I suggest attempting an ironman in Sept’ but what do I know. Anyway, suffice it to say that some common sense prevailed as Mark eased his way through the run to finish in a very quick 12hr1min given the knee situation. When Fran started working with James in January even I was faster than him in the pool. So a 1hr15min iron split in the conditions at Wales is a massive testament to the training his been doing! He followed that up with a strong 6.45 on the bike and after a few problems on the run he came home in a shade over 13hrs – a brilliant performance for his first Ironman race…….. but I thnk there will be more. Ed’s big challenge was always going to be the swim but he beat the cut off, biked in 7.25 and came home in just over 15hrs.

And so to Mandy. This time last year Mandy had just competed in Ironman Wales for the first time. In tough weather conditions, she approached the final feed station on the bike only to be told that the officials projected finish time for her was outside the cut off and that her race had to stop there….. 160km into the 180km bike after a massive effort. The cut off for Ironman Wales is that you have to be on the run 10hrs 30min into the race – this is tough given the nature of the bike course! To say that Mandy was disappointed would be a serious understatement! So what would you do? Pack it all in? Find a warmer, flattter course on which to attempt to fulfil your ironman dream? Or wake up the next morning and enter the same race again because your not going to be beaten by it? Well most of us know what Mandy did. And most of the most of us that know what Mandy did followed the tracker for the whole day on Sunday 15th September. A swim split of 1hr25min was an excellent start and Mandy took advantage of the odd wind direction to get a quick first 20km behind her on the bike. But as the hills kicked in and the average tracker speed just dropped a shade the tracker watchers nerves started to jangle a bit……. the profile of the last 20km of the bike course at Wales spells the word WWWWWWWW (I think it’s Welsh for hilly) and everything went quiet on the tracker…. 9hrs 45min gone in the race. But then, up popped Mandy’s split for 177km – 3km to go and plenty of time (!!!???), Mark Turner came off the defibrillator and the gas and air and I’m fairly sure I could hear an audible cheer from the mass of Mandy watchers in Dorset. So the formality of a 5hr marathon and Mandy heard the legendary ‘Mandy Simmonds …. you are an Ironman’ in just under 15hrs30min. A huge achievement.

So….. who fancies it next year? :)


About Ade

What ever your goals in life may be, there is always time to achieve them. You might want to lose weight, run your first 5k, or improve your personal best, whatever your specific goals are you can achieve them with structure, time management and determination!