Thanks to Ben Martin for the report below on his first Ironman distance race – and congratulations on the achievement!

Below is my race report from the Outlaw triathlon which I raced on the 1st July.  I am in white in the photo.

After months of long bike rides getting frost bite on fingers & toes, long runs in the rain and constant lengths of the pool the time had come to see if all that hard work would pay off and that I could become an Outlaw (aka Ironman).

With arriving a couple days before race day it gave me plenty of time to pop down to the course on the Friday, get registered check out where everything is come race morning on the Sunday and also gave me an extra day to pack my race kit up and not rush around on the Saturday.

With a bit of training on the Saturday to get the stiffness out of my legs and bags & bike all racked up it was time to head back to the hotel for an early night and the dreaded 4am wake up.

Come 4am on race morning it was time to get up force some food down me for the long day ahead, and then head over to the race start. While also bumping into another couple more athletes in the hotel some saying “what the hell are we doing?” for my reply “I haven’t got a clue”.

Once over at race start I made some last minute checks to my kit, checked my bike out, slipped into my wetsuit snd got to the race start. This was a mass swim start with nearly 1000 people split up into different bays depending on their expected swim finish time with a straight up & down course. I positioned myself in the second bay expecting a 60-80 minute swim time. With a bit of friendly banter between each bay (4 bays altogether) mainly directed at the sub 60-minute swimmers the countdown began and it was time to start the long day ahead.

The first 500-1000 metres were manic; I ended up getting caught in the middle of a scrap. Got hit on the back of the head a few times, getting pulled back with flaying arms, swam over, fighting my way through swimmers. Once I got into some open space and could relax into my stroke I started to power my way through the swim finding feet to draft off.  On the way back swimming into a headwind with the lake creating waves was a struggle at times but with a tropical 18 degree lake temperature I could see the swim finish in the distance and finished the 2.4 mile swim in 1:16:58.

Taking my time in transition making sure I got some food down me, got all my kit and a quick toilet stop before the 112 mile bike ride (the longest I have ridden a bike in one go).  I started off the bike leg not going hell for leather in the first few miles but trying to pace myself.  With a revised bike course due to Channel 4 filming the day it was split up into two sections with a west loop and an east loop, which you did twice.  The first loop was quick and very fast with only one major hill on the course and not much of a headwind but a tailwind.  With a bit of friendly banter between other riders on the course I was looking at a sub 6-hour ride the way I was going.  But once on the second loop on the east side that’s when it started to become a real struggle at times.  The tailwind turned into a horrible headwind all around the two loops.  I took some shelter behind groups of cyclists which were going past which almost gave me a second wind on the bike and unfortunately 40km to the end the heavens opened up and only wearing a white tri-suit I got drenched all the way to the end.  I ended up doing a 6:30:29 bike which given conditions I was happy with.

Having completed the bike and took my time again in transition to make sure food got down me, and a toilet break, I started the run.  To my surprise my legs were feeling great and I quickly got into a comfortable pace doing the first lap of the lake and headed off to start the 3 out & back loops up to Nottingham Forest football club & around the lake.  With the pace I was going I didn’t know if I was going too fast or too slow as pacing myself over long distance is not my strong point of running.  The first lap seemed to fly by with great support along the whole run course and plenty of feed stations to get enough nutrition at.  My plan was simple, run to each aid station, which were roughly every 2 miles apart, walk through & run again.  With starting the second lap and having a camera crew follow me for a short time I ended up getting roughly half way round when cramp started to creep in.  At this point I knocked off my pace massively & had to walk parts to get to the next aid station.  While running I bumped into another athlete who I was chatting to on the first lap of the lake and he too was struggling with his knee and we both decided that we should pretty much fartlek run the last 10 miles, picking out points on the course to stop, run, stop making sure we got enough food & drink down us as we went along.   While doing this another runner asked to join us as he too was suffering and for the last out & back loop we stuck together and pulled each other through.  Even though my cramp had gone half way through the last loop I decided to stick with these guys as we were all helping each other through & at that point the finish time didn’t matter – it was just about getting to the end.

Heading back to the lake for the last few miles and collecting my 4th wristband felt amazing, knowing in the next few miles I would complete the longest distance I have ever raced.  Running down the finish shoot with two other guys who were also first timers arms raised felt amazing and worth all those long hours training.  I did a 5:26:01 marathon but that didn’t bother me.  I finished in a time of 13:27:31 & finished 610 out of nearly 1000 people who entered and only 890 finished.

The support, volunteers, race organizers & the two other runners who managed to help me & I helped them to get to the end – everything was amazing.   I would definitely recommend this race to anyone who is looking to take on an Ironman distance race. I will definitely be heading back in the future to tackle this race again