The build up to the IronMan70.3 Staffordshire started with the race brief in Shugborough on Friday. We had decided to get up there early to enable registration in the hope that Saturday would be a chilled out day. The race brief was very informative for people who have never done an IronMan event before. We were know as Ironman Virgins!! It was pleasing to see so many other ‘virgins’ at the brief. In a weird sort of way, it relaxed the nerves.
Saturday was described as ‘keep your feet up day’ by head coach Will Usher. It certainly didn’t pan out that way! With split transitions, we were required to set up bikes etc (T1) in Chasewater Park (Cannock) and then running gear in Shugborough (T2). The weather wasn’t being kind to us either. I don’t recall the rain ceasing at any point during the day. Hopefully race day wouldn’t be like this??!!
A welcome meeting for the GR100 team followed with a speeches from Will, Gordon and Tana Ramsay, and a motivational talk from Dave Scott (6 times Ironman world champion). A true legend within the Triathlon community, someone who has been there and done that. He provided us with hints and tips for race day which proved to be invaluable!!
Day over, early to bed and only 21,000 steps done…. hardly a ‘keep your feet up’ day!! haha
Sunday morning (should I say Saturday night?) started at 3am. Will’s military precision had us all eating breakfast at 3:30am. Some struggled with this, although it came quite natural to me after years spent long haul flying and eating at strange hours. I stuffed my face knowing that I will need all the energy I can get for the day ahead!
By 5:15am we were walking to Chasewater Park ready for a final check of bikes and to don wetsuits ready for the swim start. If only I hadn’t left my wetsuit in the car!!! First schoolboy error of the day. The run back to the car was a great warm up though!
The week leading up to today had been spent scrutinising the weather forecast. At best it had looked like overcast skies and 9 degrees Celsius. It was hard to believe that after the rain on Saturday that we now had blue skies and temps in the mid-teens. This settled the nerves somewhat as racing in the rain would have not been fun.
Considering we had arrived so early, after a check of the bikes and a queue for the toilet, it was already time for donning of wetsuits. With a 7:20 wave start, we didn’t have long to wait once the elite athletes were under starters orders.
The atmosphere was electric. 2500 people walking about in rubber suits all warming themselves up and psyching themselves up in their own individual ways. Music blasting out, sun shining and lots of support from our significant ‘others’, so far it was all going to plan.
The training is over, this is what it was all about. Train hard race easy, right? We would soon find out……..