Garyoke Ironman Bolton 2015

“Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you”

Never a truer word said, after feeling pretty pleased with myself last year after entering Ironman UK the race came thundering like a runaway juggernaught, thoughts of what am I doing? I haven’t trained enough, what happens if I get a puncture and I cant fix it were all going through my head the week before the big race making me a gibbering wreck!!

Friday night myself and Sharon made the trip down to Bolton stopping over night to get registered early Saturday so I could attend the swim practice on the Saturday, huge waves didn’t help and in hindsight should of given it a miss but it was done, the rest of Saturday was a blur of racking bikes, racking transition bags and attending pre race briefings, an Italian resteraunt where I met my 2 coaches for the race, Mr Binch and Mr Hinch was the end to a busy day and bed by 8:30 ready for the race

3am race day and the sound of the alarm was not greatly received, quick breakfast and drive to Bolton stadium to catch the shuttle bus to the swim start, its absolutely pouring down with rain but despite that Sharon, Phil and Dave are there to keep my morale up

The swim is a rolling start which I enjoyed, 2 laps of pennington flash are required with an Australian exit after lap 1, the swim was going well on the first lap but a shoulder niggle on lap 2 meant I was bringing my arm around rather than over and I kept veering to the left, and friendly kayaker coming over to tell me I was heading in the wrong direction! Finally out of the swim in 1hr 25mins which I was extremely happy with, into transition to collect my bike bag, sit on a chair and get ready for the bike, it was still heavy rain at this point and the thought of sitting on a bike for so long in this weather certainly didn’t fill me with joys of summer

The bike course after the initial 12 miles is roughly 2×50 mile loops, 2 major hills to contend with, what I’ve learnt is these hills seem to entice the crazy and downright insane, people running along side you (Dave), we had men painted head to toe in red paint, wrestlers, morph suits you name it, most of the bike is pretty lonely with sharp inclines now and again meaning your not able to just sit and grind the miles away but a few villages around the loop really get into the spirit and it gives you a push for a good 5/10 miles after

After what seemed like forever I was heading back to the stadium for T2, as I racked my bike and found my running bag a few more words from Dave whilst I was in the portaloo (Don’t walk!! Anyone can run 10k!! meant I had a target from Dave before I could officially walk!) sent me on my way

I had a plan which Phil discussed with me and worked pretty well, walk up the hills, you’ll lose about 10 secs but wont completely destroy you was the words of wisdom I received..triple Ironman!! What does he know 😉

I felt quite good to be honest although as Phil and Dave told me the first 8 miles are hard as theres no spectators, I was prepared, just get through the first 8 miles and then enjoy the atmosphere, as I came up the last hill before hitting the crowds, hand in hand with Sharon things were looking good, what an atmosphere as I began to go through mile by mile, it can be a bit soul destroying seeing competitors with 3 bands they collected on their loops so you know that they’re heading home but you get the chance to be that guy later on with offers of jokingly money and people saying they wished they had the red band gives you a spring in your step, on every loop as you go into Bolton town centre you can see the finish, the crowds are electric and it can be quite hard to turn your back on it and go back out for another lap, after my 3 laps though it was my turn, I milked every part of the run in through the town centre, high fiving any person who was up for it and forcing people who wasn’t, as I came round the corner frist person to see me onto the carpet was phil, quick high five and then next my eyes locked onto Sharon, a quick kiss (as I’m romantic like that ;)) and another high five and I was zig sagging the crowds on my way home, oblivious to the fact I nearly took out a lady runner behind me, sorry if you ever read this J the words will ring in my ears forever I AM AN IRONMAN!! Customary tattoo to follow

Was there any dark moments?? No not really, and I put that down to the constant support, advice and belief I got from Sharon, Phil and Dave you I will alwys be grateful for, also all the messages I managed to read before I set off at 6am, I read them all and I kept thinking about them on the way really does help even the smallest of messages, thats my Ironman journey started, wether I continue at that distance I don’t know, it’s a huge dedication training but on the day you get it back with interest, anyone thinking about it I wish you well and as a tip, theres a lot of ironmen in the club, quite a few performing at the highest level, use their experience and you wont go far wrong


Gary Horner

Ironman (not batman)