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Brutal Events Triple Iron Distance Triathlon Race Report #boom

Ironjediby IronjediSep 26th 2015

Thank You :-)

Firstly I apologise as this blog is going to be another long one. Grab yourself a cup of coffee, something to eat and enjoy stepping into my world!

I have a massive number of people who I wish to thank first.

Thank you to all the sponsors - Ashwood Shepherd Huts, BC Trees, Phoenix Fitness, Howard SW Ltd and V02 Sportswear who provided the funding for much needed equipment and the custom made clothing worn during the race (I looked awesome by the way!). Thank you to BetterYou who were the first company to get behind me and back me from the start. They got the fundraising off to a flying start and then provided me with the much needed products for performance and recovery. Their products have undoubtedly helped me recover at a much quicker rate than before #magnesiumpower. Thank you also to my other supporters who provided me with food, drink and kit to enhance training and racing over the year - I am so grateful to Jackoatbar, Science and Fitness, Proviz, Compressport and Speedo.

I am so appreciative of the support from my friends and family who have put up with my training over the year and supported me through the many build up training races I have completed to get race ready for the big day and, in particular, my wife Wendy who provides the foundations for me to achieve on.

A big thanks to my support crew who this year were also supporting others as we also had my brother Darren racing the Full distance Triathlon and Grant racing the Half distance. At times people were split up all over the place getting the three of us through what would undoubtedly be a massive achievement for each of us. Thanks go to Wendy, Nancy, Ben, Grant, Matt, Justin, Mark, Darren, Nadine, Holly, Tony, Jake, Zac, Megan, Ben, Jamie, Debbie and not forgetting Jenny at home looking after everything, including the dogs and the children when they returned. Previous members of the support crew - Chloe, Mark and Helen - were very much missed but provided excellent support from afar, even as far as Sierra Leone!

Thanks go to Somerset RC Tri who have welcomed me into their club this year. With their guidance, advice and coaching my swimming has certainly improved. Thanks Joanne, Lorraine and Paul.

Thanks to @Ironmatemark - Mark Kleanthous - for his valuable time, steering me in the right direction with my training and passing on those little tips that make big differences.

Thank you to Claire and her team who organised a great race with outstanding marshals and medics who kept us all safe. Thanks to the other competitors who just made the race what it was. They all did an awesome job!

Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout the year, people who have donated money to the charities, people who have tweeted, shared posts on facebook, patted me on the back and sent wonderful messages of encouragement as the race unfolded. It has all been very much appreciated and I have taken great strength from this.

Build Up to Race Day!

For about three weeks before the race I had massive butterflies. I dreamt about the Triple every night, I had a constant pain in my stomach and kept having conversations with myself about IF I finish. My confidence was shattered. On top of this I was constantly worrying about my Charity page and the Mountain Warehouse Charity Challenge for which I had been shortlisted in the final to win a further £10,000 for Child Bereavement UK.

However on the Wednesday before the race something in my mindset changed. I don't know what triggered the change but on the way home from work a sense of calm came over me and the pains in my stomach subsided. I thought to myself "you are going to be fine, you can do this". I had put in the training required and started to believe in this. I got home and instead of being negative and stating IF, I kept saying WILL but didn't vocalise this too much in case it came back later to slap me in the face!

Thursday morning came and Justin and I packed the van, and boy, was it packed. I don't think we could have fitted one single extra thing in it. I had packed so much kit and food, enough to cover every eventuality. Better to have too much than not enough although I could guarantee I would never use half of it. We headed up to North Wales but on the way we had to go to Zip World Bounce Below to meet up with the other Mountain Warehouse shortlisters for a photo shoot, interviews and a bounce. Justin thankfully jumped at the chance to take my place in Bounce Below. There was no chance I would risk twisting an ankle or pulling something two days before the race. On route I was all over social media pushing out the link and by the time we got there, I was in the lead by about 150 votes. I viewed this as a good sign and everything seemed to be going to plan.

Meeting the other Mountain Warehouse shortlisters was amazing, a real humbling experience. They were amazing individuals with their own personal stories undertaking inspiring challenges for really worthy charities. I felt really choked by the whole thing and thought that all were equally worthy winners and that it would be far better to just share the money between all the charities. Justin was like a child, he really enjoyed the experience and even hurt his shoulder bouncing! Anything to get out of riding a lap of the bike course with me on Thursday afternoon to re-energise the legs.

After Bounce Below we headed over to Llanberis, popped into transition to say hello to Claire and the team who were working tirelessly to get everything ready. We binned the bike lap ride due to Justin's trampolining injury!!! We met up with Mark Yates, one of the other Triple guys, a lovely bloke who seemed well up for the race. We set up our tent in transition, grabbed some food at Pete's Eats (we were also staying in the twin bunk house room). We met another guy in there, Will,who was racing the full Brutal. He seemed pretty chilled. I tucked into a burger and chips (food for athletes). This triple lark was an excuse really to eat whetever I like, after all I am motivated by food.

Friday Morning and we were up early and out on the bike course. I had told Justin we would stop at a nice coffee shop at Beddgelert on the way round. I had no intention of stopping but I knew he was a little worried about riding the loop so I thought it would make him feel better. Riding the loop was awesome. For the first 5 miles my legs felt like lead, after that they felt great. It was just what my body needed after not an ounce of training in the last week. Justin did a great job and it was really nice to share this with him. He had also been training all year just to support me. He had lost about 1 1/2 stone and cycled over 1300 miles in preparation.

We spent the rest of the day chilling out, eating and then checked into our house. We had booked the same house as we had for the Double in 2013, at the Piggery Pottery, about 3 miles from transition on the bike route and I would use this as my transition on the bike. Over the course of the afternoon the team gradually assembled. It was like a scene of Avengers Assemble, super powers coming together to overthrow the evil Brutal Triathlon.

I headed over to transition to register and take in the briefing. It was good to catch up with Mark Dodgson (Triple), Alan Redfern (Double), Chris Bennett (Full), Calum Hudson (Double), Will Denny (Triple) and his brother Nick, Matt Pritchard (Double) and Adam Pritchard (Triple). Everyone was buzzing and well up for it. Wendy was not due to arrive until around midnight. I tried to get to bed early as I needed my sleep but didn't really settle until she arrived at 00:30am. I finally got some sleep before waking up at 5am.

Mountain Warehouse Short Listers, Olympic Gymnast Beth Tweddle and Justin below!

Swim 7.2 Miles - 4 hours 44 minutes

I had been welcomed into the #TeamBear family during the build up to this race. Their motto is #sufferbutNEVERsurrender! I have taken great strength in this and before I went to bed on Friday night thought I had better write it on my arm so that when things got tough I could refer to it. Then I clearly lost my mind for 15 minutes and wrote some other stuff which would also pick me up when I was down. I certainly did draw on the #TeamBear motto throughout the race.

5am and the alarm was going off. I felt chilled and relaxed but deep underneath the overwhelming worry was not my ability to succeed but the ability to withstand the cold waters for somewhere between 4 - 5 hours. It was not the distances that troubled me but the cold. #JKS (Just Keep Swimming) would ring around my head throughout the swim. I covered my legs in BetterYou Magnesium Oil ready for the off. After a breakfast of porridge and banana, topped up with some Science and Fitness Glyco Source I was good to go. We headed down to transition for 6am. I had all the nervous toileting I wanted to have at the house. When we got down there I was nice and calm and had given myself enough time to get dressed properly. It was nice to see Dave Chapman (Full and eventual winner), Tina Robinson (Half) and Brett Horton (Full) and wish them luck. After getting changed we headed down to the lake for the briefing and start. You could just sense the nervous energy in the air. I tried to simply remain in my own thoughts #JKS focusing on the fact that I didn't want to let anyone down.

I shook hands with a few of the Double competitors, Adam Pritchard (triple), Rich Fuller (Triple) and Nigel Morse (Triple) and wished them good luck. I had some photos taken, wished Brett Horton (Full), Grant and Darren good luck and watched them get into the water. I was in no rush to get in, the least amount of time spent in that cold dark lake the better.

The green hats were the half and full competitors, the red the double and the blue the triple. It was funny how the red hats and blue hats just hung back and let the others thrash it out. When I eventually got into the water right at the back, it was cold, much colder than three weeks previously when I swam there for the Big Swim. I looked over to my right and saw Mark Dodgson, the race had started and we took a moment to wish each other luck and stated that we would see each other on the course. I had got to know Mark over the last year, he's a great guy, a good friend, super fit and was one of the favourites for the win. It was a real special moment for me and that moment had been caught on camera, unbeknown to me. It is one of my favourite pictures from the event. What would the next three days bring?

Darren, James and Grant before the swim. Wendy and James before the swim below.
One of my favourite pictures above. Mark Dodgson and I wishing each other good luck whilst the race had begun!

I started swimming, no problems with the goggles which was a relief. I had really worked on my sighting and gradually started passing people. I got into a nice rhythm and kept trying not to think about the massive distances ahead. I had to complete 12 lake laps and after every two laps, as per race rules, had to get out, run over the timing mat and then get back in. After the first two laps I was feeling great, I just kept telling myself #JKS. As you enter the water after getting out, you have to go through the 'cold water down your suit' situation each time. This was fairly unpleasant. After lap three things took a turn for the worse. I started getting cramp. I think it was the cold taking it's toll on me. All I wanted to do was piss in my suit but I just couldn't go. I thought it would warm the suit up and make everything ok. It never came and I spent the next 9 laps cold. As each lap passed I felt colder and colder. I could feel my pace had dropped right down and people were passing me. As the laps went on, I would get out and throw some tea down my throat in an attempt to warm up the core or take a bite of something to eat to keep my energy levels up. At lap 8 or 9 I felt like my race was over. How could I carry on in this cold? Thankfully the water was still pretty calm but the sun was now out, making it difficult to sight the buoys on the leg back to the start and the timing mat.

#JKS it will soon be over. Lap 10 done and my mind set changed. All I had to do was get back in the water and swim two more laps. Once I had done this I would never have to swim ever again if I didn't want to. Lap 11 was "peaceful" as you can imagine as there were only 13 of us left in the water by this stage. It felt like you had the lake to yourself. As I passed the buoy and started lap 12 I smiled. This was probably the first smile I had cracked since getting in the water. I was going to finish the swim!. That final lap seemed to go quite quickly, in reality it was probably my slowest. The feeling of relief heading towards the finish line of the swim was pumping out of my chest. I couldn't wait to get out.

As I exited the water I punched the air with joy. I had Fooking done it! My Dryrobe was put on me straight away and I walked back to transition. I don't really remember much of this but allegedly I didn't look good. Mark Dodgson apparently spoke to me but I don't remember that either. As I got into the transition tent my body went into an uncontrollable spasm where I could not stop shaking. I threw tea all over myself and lost the ability to use my hands. I was assisted by my support team who undressed me, dressed me and then attempted to get me warmed up. Thank God for the Brutal Beard!. I think at this stage someone fed porridge to me. Deep inside I was thinking "right, stay away from the medics or they are going to pull you out of the race", this was a fairly difficult thing to do as pretty much everyone else was already on the bike course.

I must have been in the transition area for about 40 minutes and just couldn't warm up. I was starting to tell myself I was too cold to carry on. Wendy told me to get on the bike and warm up as sitting there was doing me no good, she said to ride up to the house 3 miles away and see how I felt. So that's what I did. The support team had come into their own already at this stage.

Apparently I was in 4th place after the swim having completed it in 4 hours 44 minutes.

James and coach Wendy. Zac, James and Jake before the bike. below.

Bike 348 Miles - 30 hours 17 minutes

The bike course is 348 miles which breaks down into 12 x 29 mile loops around the foothills of Snowdon. The course goes out of Llanberis anticlockwise and then turns left up and over to Waunfawr. This is by far the steepest section of the course. A massive amount of height gain in a very short distance which then leads you left towards Beddgelert on an undualating road past the aid station at Beddgelert woods and a fast descent through Beddgelert. You then head left again towards Capel Curig on another undulating road and into the climb of Pen-Y-Pass, a 4.5 mile climb all the way to the youth hostel at the top. This is followed by a very quick descent down the Llanberis Pass which is cold, fast and dangerous. The entire course climbs just over 32,000 feet.

The bike began in the beautiful sunshine and that glorious weather would stay with me until night fall. As soon as I got on the bike I started to warm up, stopped shaking and quickly realised I had far too many clothes on. But at least I wasn't swimming....and did I say that I looked awesome in my custom kit (but the thought that I would look a real dick in it if I didn't finish kept going round my head)! By the time I had reached the house I was warmed right through. I blatted round the first lap in around 1 hour 40 minutes and I felt great. After the first lap I dumped some clothing and carried on eating little and often which consisted of yoghurt raisins, ham bagels, Jackoatbars and Pringles. I had chosen to ride my triathlon bike until it got dark - laps 2 and 3 were quickly knocked off.

I thought about the guys who were racing up at Equinox 24, a race we had been at the previous year. The race had started at midday and would run for 24 hours. I thought about Alex, Stewart, Lozza, Duane, Sid and the other Poppyfielders racing up there. I hoped Sid had enough clothing for the cold night section this year. The following day at midday I would certainly envy them finishing whilst I continued on.

On lap 3 I met up with Willie Wilson (Double) and we rode a little together. We had met each other on twitter and I was clearly off my head on electrolytes at this point because I made some stupid comment about his profile picture not looking like him! Haha. His mate was making a film about the race and at one point he sat in the middle of the road as we rode either side of him. A great couple of guys. The bike was running so smoothly and was an absolute joy to ride, so light and very quick even though it had quite a high gear ratio. At the start of lap 4 I decided to change to my aluminium road bike, mainly down to the fact that my lights would not fit on the triathlon bike.

Lap 4, now that was an interesting lap. I had been spoilt with the triathlon bike and it now felt like I was riding through treacle. I kept looking down thinking I had a flat tyre. I longed to get back on the triathlon bike. Just as I finished the lap, the sun set and we were now into the night laps. I asked someone to check the bike for me as I was sure that something was wrong with the tyres. As I ate, someone checked the pressures. The front was 20PSI and the rear 60PSI. It's no wonder it was a hard lap and had really sapped my legs. I had asked one of the team to check them in the morning before I got on it later. Seems like they forgot! No harm done, just my legs smashed for a lap.

James and Matt "Spanner Monkey" below
With an ironman bike (116 miles) complete, I only had another two ironman rides to go! At the start of lap 5 my legs were tired, the last lap on flat tyres had clearly taken its toll. Jamie had joined me for a couple of laps. He is an experienced Ironman racer and is looking to take on the Double Brutal in the next couple of years so he was keen to see what it was all about. It was great having Jamie riding with me. It helped to pass the time and he was full of words of encouragement and support. We churned out the miles, supported by our support vehicle which was being driven by Matt the spanner monkey, who was normally joined by someone as his co pilot. He did an amazing job keeping us safe and supplying us with bits of food along the way. He would leap frog us, pull over and wait for us to come by, often finding somewhere along the route with WiFi so he could keep the Twitter feed updates going.

By now I was starting to reject food and didn't fancy eating anything at all. I was conscious that I had to keep eating around 350 cals an hour just to keep myself going. This had even become a struggle. At the end of the lap I was beat. I rolled into the house a grey man, every one was fussing around me trying to get food into me. In the space of around 15 minutes I was stuffed forcibly like a goose with about 900 cals - protein shakes, peanut butter toast, porridge, soup, tea, blueberries. It was just one blueberry too many and I jumped up from my chair, ran to the toilet and prayed to the porcelain god!

Once everything was out of my system, I washed my face, brushed my teeth and felt massively better. I think my body just needed to be reset. Inside I was laughing to myself. If this didn't put Jamie off the Double, then it would certainly put Debbie, his wife, off it. I rested for a little while longer, ate some soup and then set out for lap 6, again with Jamie to keep me company.

Lap 6 was hard, I had an empty tank and just needed to build up some reserves again. The problem was it was now the middle of the night and my body was willing me to go to sleep. The temperature had dropped and it was cold. On the descents I found myself shivering, cold to the bone. I kept dropping off to sleep and would open my eyes as I headed towards a wall or fence. This happened a few times as there was nothing to look at apart from the darkness ahead. Jamie was also a little quiet on this lap and was clearly tired too. My plan had been not to stop and rest until after Snowdon. I planned to go straight through with no sleep however I was quickly learning that this plan was flawed. As we passed through Beddgelert I announced to Matt that I would get this lap finished, bridge the half way mark on the bike and then sleep for 20 minutes. As I hit the climb of Pen-Y-Pass my legs fell asleep and then half way up so did I. Enough was enough, I had to shut my eyes.

I caught up with the support vehicle and got in it. I told Matt to just give me 5 minutes sleep now and then I would take another 20 at the house. I was worried about sleeping for any longer than that as always in the back of my mind were the cut off times for the bike. The moment I shut my eyes, everything went dark and then, what felt like immediately, Matt shook me and told me it was time to get up. He had let me sleep for 30 minutes. At first I was cross in my head, thinking that I had just lost time. Matt explained that he had made the decision to let me sleep then rather than at the house because it was dark and peaceful. Everyone else in the vehicle had fallen asleep too apart from Matt. As I got back on my bike that 30 minutes sleep, added to having been sick earlier, changed me. I felt like I had a new lease of life.

The lap was completed and I was half way through, the bike was all down hill from here. Justin rode lap 7 with me, although some miscommunication on everyone's behalf meant that most of the lap with him was actually on my own. At the time I did wonder whether he was just screwing with my head. I was beginning to take on soup and was looking forward to the morning. I kept telling myself "when the sun comes will all get better" I knew this was a load of rubbish but it was a running joke amongst us.

Jamie and James about to set off into the night below.
Lap 8 and I was on my own. It was quite nice to be out in the dead of the night with just myself to talk to. Don't get me wrong, the course is Brutal. You hardly see anyone on the bike. When I did, I always rode alongside whoever it was and had a chat. I really appreciated talking to the other competitors and I think they appreciated it too. So whenever I caught up with someone, I would hang with them and have a chat about how it had been for them and what their motivation for doing this crazy challenge was. I spoke with quite a few of the doubles on the bike course. It's hard to remember names as my head was pretty mashed but I think I spoke with Kevin, Sean and Oliver. Over the course up to then I had also spoken to TC (Triple) and Matt P (Double).

As the sun started to come up the weather remained cold, the sun hidden by a grey haze. Near Beddgelert I came across Adam Pritchard (Triple). It was great to see him and we agreed to ride together for a while. Side by side we rolled along chatting about all sorts. However he did look quite grey and seemed to be completely empty of any energy. He was first out of the swim and had been in second on the bike for most of the day. Ending this lap would be a milestone, the Double distance bike would be done and we would only have 4 more laps to go. I was willing us on. We rode up Pen-Y-Pass together through the fog and as we reached the top of the climb my left crank flew off the bike. I was clearly putting too much power through it ;-) but fortunately didn't fall off. I said farewell to Adam hoping to see him again on the course and he rode ahead to let Justin who was in the support vehicle know what had happened. I fixed the crank back on and rode up to the top. I had fixed it on but as I had no real strength left it was not tight enough. I sat in the van whist Justin tightened it all up, got some food and drink on board and then saw Mark Dodgson fly past on his bike. He was smashing the bike course to bits.

After the bike was fixed I rolled back to transition where I saw Mark with his family and stopped to see how he was doing. He was just about to start lap 11, I was just starting lap 9. It was great to see him, I wished him luck and rode on.

As I got in on this lap it was the first time I had seen my brother Darren. He had completed the full Brutal, was wearing his medal and had waited to see me before he went to bed. It was a real mental boost to know he had finished safely and I could now stop worrying about him. I was so proud of him and had a tear in my eye as we had a proper good hug. Grant had also finished the half, having pulled from the full due to a niggling injury he had started with. Well done to them both. Couch to Ironman in nine months #Boom.

It was now daylight and I was feeling much better and was about to ride two laps with my step sons. Zac, 14, rode lap 9 with me, he was so encouraging and really helped me through the lap. I think he had to work hard to keep up with me at times but he was a great support and couldn't believe I was moving so well. Lap 10 was with Jake, 16, who again was encouraging and supportive. It was great to ride with the boys. What a great idea to have brain washed them into enjoying cycling. I later found out that they thought I was falling asleep on the bike. I would be pedalling along spinning my legs around and then all of a sudden would come to almost a complete stop. This made me laugh, I wasn't sleeping but every so often would just need to stop pedalling and then reset myself. It probably looked like I was yo-yoing. Both are great boys and very strong cyclists. Brett Horton had popped by the house at some point to see how I was getting on. It was good to see him and I really appreciated this. He had smashed the full Brutal having been plagued with injury.

Adam Pritchard and James heading up Pen-Y-Pass on lap 8 below
photos above. James and Zac. Darren and James after Darren had finished the full Brutal. Jake, James, Grant and Matt at the top of Pen-y-pass

Lap 11 and Jamie rode another lap with me. This was a nice steady lap. It was good for Jamie to see the course in the day. He was more upbeat having had a sleep. The wind had really picked up on laps 10, 11 and 12 and the descents were even colder than before. By the time I reached the bottom of Llanberis my legs would be uncontrollably shaking with coldness.

Lap 12, the last lap - one of my best buds, Grant, said he would ride a lap with me. He had completed the half the previous day and it was a great opportunity to have some time with him. We seemed to whizz round. As I went up each hill I announced "I wont be going up that hill again". As we got round the back end of the course I stopped at Alan Redfern's (Double) cottage to see how he had got on. He would have been finished by now. I was like a smelly tramp outside their house waving. Alan came out to tell me he had got pulled off the bike by the medics after four laps due to hyperthermia. I was absolutely gutted for him. He was so strong at every discipline but sadly his race had been cut short by the cold of the lake which he hadn't recovered from. I wished him well, finished the last climb of Pen-Y-Pass and headed down to Llanberis feeling on top of the world. I was going to get my arse off the bike and I couldn't wait.

Just outside Llanberis I stopped the support vehicle and gave Matt an almighty man hug, he had kept me safe throughout the bike and I was very grateful. I rolled into and over the timing mat to be met by people clapping. It was such a lovely feeling. Adam P (Triple) who I found out pulled out after our bike lap together due to exhaustion was there with his brother Matt P (Double) who was still racing and well into his run laps. It was great to see the guys and I was touched that Matt had taken time out of his own race to see me in. This race draws the competitors together and a unique bond is formed. Another person who always seemed to pop up on the bike course offering words of encouragement was Nick Denny (Will's brother) who whilst supporting Will, always checked to see if I needed anything. Thanks :-)

I lifted my bike up, tried to get it over my head but my arms were too tired so I just lifted it up to my waist. Time to get some food down my neck. Throughout the bike I regularly changed out of the cold wet clothes and sprayed my legs with BetterYou Magnesium Oil to keep muscles and body fresh. What a difference a change of clothes makes to your mental strength. I often had the phrase running around my head #sufferbutNEVERsurrender.

Grant and James heading out for final bike lap below. Bus stop massive, Ben, Ben, Megan, Nad, Wendy, Zac, Mark, Tony and Jake.

Run 78 miles - Snowdon 4 hours 4 mins/13 lake laps 17 hours 51 minutes

Ben and James just about to head up Snowdon above.

The run started with a climb to the summit of Snowdon. Ben, my brother in law, was the mountain goat, he loves those hills. He had already been up Snowdon with Darren during his race. After some food we set off in heavy rain and strong wind. We made our way up at a good pace, I was currently in third position having seen TC just coming off Snowdon as I came in on the bike. Mark Dodgson was well into the run. At the half way café we stopped to shelter from the rain and I had a cup of tea and a Mars Bar. I then saw torch lights behind us approaching fast. It was Rich Fuller (Triple), he was in good spirits and moving fast. He was still smiling, every time I had seen him he had a beaming smile on his face and was clearly loving every minute of the race. As we proceeded the rain and wind were getting stronger. I could see Rich up ahead speaking to the medic at the 3/4 way mark. We joined them to find out that we were being pulled off the mountain due to the poor weather conditions up on the summit. Apparently the temp was down to -7 and the gales, fog and rain made it too unsafe to continue. The medic told us that we would have to see at the bottom what mileage we would have to do to make up the distance and that everyone else was being stopped from coming up. Both Rich and I were frustrated by this as we wanted to get to the top and wondered how it could be evened out for everyone.

To be honest the wind had been taken from my sail. We took a steady walk down. Rich flew away, running down. He was looking really strong. As we headed down we came across Mark Yates (Triple) who was with his support crew and his dog. The rain was pouring down. He had a quick chat and we went our separate ways. As I got down off the mountain I was told that I would have to do an out and back run of 5 miles to complete the Snowdon leg. Pretty Fooked off with this, I dropped my bag and then ran the mileage with Wendy in the rain. When I got back to transition, I ate some of the food I had ordered - a Meat Feast pizza and bacon roll. I then got into my tent for a 45 minute sleep. It was bloody freezing. Wendy wrapped me in the sleeping bag and Dryrobe, my head hit the pillow and I was gone. But strangely as quick as I closed my eyes, she was waking me up again. I desperately wanted to go back to sleep. I was in a delirious state, I didn't have a clue where I was or who she was. My race was done, there was no way I was getting out of that tent. Wendy pulled me to my feet and I started to realize that I was still in the nightmare (that's how it felt at that exact moment). I still had 65 miles to run. It was pissing it down with rain and I was soooooooo tired.

She helped me out of the tent and into the transition tent and then dressed me whilst I stuffed more pizza and bacon rolls down my throat. Life was coming back to me, I felt like I might be able to actually run. YeeeeHaaa!

Nad and James. Jamie, James and Matt. Deb and James below.
13 laps of 5.2 miles left to run on an undulating multi terrain course. Eeeeeeesaaaaaayyy!!!! It rained most of the night. When the sun came up, it would then rain, then the sun would come out just as you took your coat off and then it would rain again. The weather just repeated this format all day.

Wendy ran the first lap with me. It was raining but it felt great to be off the bike and to have eaten some food which I was able to keep down. It was amazing running with Wendy, my first time with her on our own since the race began. I was so happy to be with her. I was also glad that she ran first with me as it meant she could then go and get some sleep. The support team had been superb and I know the long hours were taking their toll on everyone. We ran well together and quickly finished the lap with no incidents. She has been an amazing strength to me throughout this whole race and during the build up. I owe her everything.

Lap 2 was with my sister in law, Nancy. She is a really strong runner as well as very calm and levelheaded. This was a quick lap and she helped me settle into an even running rhythmn. My goal now was to get five laps done before 8am. I just needed to keep cracking out the laps during the night and rain. I was starting to refuel now and could tolerate most things so every lap I stopped briefly to drink hot sugary tea and eat, mainly crisps and hot soup. People were surprised that I could run on a belly full of food, well, after 30 hours on the bike with not a great deal to eat, it was easy.

Jamie, who was still checking out the route for his double attempt in a couple of years probably didn't realise he was going to do so much exercise. He ran two laps with me. Both fast laps. I couldn't believe I was still running, neither could he. During the first few laps every time I came across someone I would either walk or run with them to chat and catch up. I was pleased to see some of the doubles I had seen on the bike were still in the game, toughing out the laps. It was nice to catch up with Will Denny and Mark Yates, they were both looking great, Will in particular had come alive and was loving the running. I was so pleased for him!

Lap 5 was with Matt, my spanner monkey. He was great company and really loved the experience of trail running. I think it inspired him somewhat. He was the first runner to take a small tumble on a bit of slate but survived unscathed thankfully. It was a pretty quick lap and I loved it. My lap times were pretty constant and I was well ahead of what I thought I would be able to run.

Laps 6 and 7 were with Deb who was training for her upcoming Marathon. We had a couple of good laps,however on the second lap with Deb I did feel a bit low and at one point was convinced I had seen a large lizard looking at me on a wall. I was clearly tired. Justin told me that he would be waiting for me at what he had named the "Perch" (about 3 miles into the lap) and that he would have a surprise for me. I had considered what it might be but during the first 6 laps had not seen hide nor hair of him. I was hoping that he was sleeping as he had done a lot of the night bike stint offering support along the way. As I approached the Perch, I heard Justin shouting down at me. As I crested the hill I saw to my surprise a 6'4 Minion. Absolutely Fooking fantastic. It really made me laugh, what a legend. He stayed there the whole day cheering everyone on. That moment changed my race! Not only was I still laughing but I had completed over half the run and was definitely on the homeward straight with only six laps to go at the end of this one. I was lifted by the big furry Minion.

Laps 8 and 9 were with Zac and Jake. What a treat, those boys impressed me, not only did they smash the bike, they were now about to smash the run. Lap 8 was with Jake, he had the go pro camera and was arsing about with it throughout. He was really encouraging and pushed me on at speed. At the start of lap 9 I was told that I was in third place just behind Rich Fuller and just in front of Mark Dodgson. I discovered that Mark had been in bed for about 7 hours being sick and had thought about throwing in the towel but had decided to carry on and finish. It must have taken great mental strength for Mark to come back from the brink and carry on after being so unwell, being unable to eat anything apart from blueberries. TC was well out in the lead by this point.

I knew that Mark was strong even if he had been ill and that Rich just kept smiling his way round looking super fit. I was floating between 2nd and fourth and I had it all to race for. Matt had let me know that there were trophies for the top three. Having never won anything or been placed anywhere near the top of the field at any race, this gave me a new impetus. So at the start of lap 9 I had the bit between my teeth. What was I thinking? I must have been smacked off my face on electrolytes, how could I even think about racing for a place with 25 miles left to go, totally bonkers to attempt to run hard to catch the person in front of me. Poor Zac, he was in for a fast lap in an attempt to make some ground on Rich Fuller and put some time between Mark and myself.

The lap with Zac was pretty quick, we ran most of the hill, passing Simon Jacobs (triple). It was the first time I had seen him since the start. Mad really! He looked like he was in a whole world of hurt. I passed TC who was walking on his last lap and he paid me a complement which doesn't happen very often. He had made a joke a few months earlier that I was there to make up numbers! That did stick with me, maybe I was proving him wrong! We continued to run hard. Every lap I was stopping at the aid station and maxing out on Salt and Vinegar twirls and Cheddars which I was now relying on to survive. At the aid station on this lap I had run so hard to catch Rich that I caught up with him at the aid station, he was just leaving as I arrived. I felt like the job was complete and had expelled so much energy getting to this point that I could just relax back a bit now.

Rich was gone as quick as he came into sight, whether that pushed him on or whether he was just going through a positive stage in his race. I ran down into transition and thanked Zac for "Beasting me". I checked out my nipples which were pretty sore. School Boy Error, I had forgotten to put any Vaseline on them and because of all the rain they were destroyed. To be honest though I did not notice them too much, they were the least of my problems. I would set myself goals to reach and then reward myself with some BetterYou Magnesium oil which Wendy would massage on. I had no shame. I would just drop my running tights in the transition tent whilst she worked her magic!

Justin the 6'4 Minion and James. Jake and James. Nipple problems below.
Zac and James above.

Lap 10 started with Grant. He was doing well considering he had raced and I think deep down he was beating himself up for not doing the full Brutal. He was great company. He kept telling me to take it easy. I was in a sort of mad state desperately trying not to get caught. In hindsight it was a really dangerous mental state to be in so close to the end. It could all come tumbling down if I didn't watch out. Another quick lap and I seemed to be getting quicker.

Laps 11 and 12 were with Nancy. She was going to calm me down, the level headed voice of reason. As we got up to Justin at the Perch I was desperate to know how far everyone was in front or behind. Justin told us that he had not seen Rich since the last lap. He must have gone to have a rest and I passed him in transition. How could this be? I had somehow run myself into 2nd place. As I started lap 12 I saw Mark Dodgson who was still going, he had four laps to go. I ran with him up to the bridge. It was great to catch up with him. He had had a really bad time with sickness and lack of food but was a true legend for carrying on. I got quite emotional as realisation had set in that as long as I finished I would win a trophy. I was choked. At the bridge I left Mark and pushed on trying to distance Rich behind me. The lap was slower than the previous four as my mind and body had almost fallen into a relaxed state. Maybe I could ease off now. My legs were starting to scream at me however I finished the lap strong and ready for the final lap.

Grant and James. Nancy and James below.
James and Mark Dodgson above.

The Final Lap!

James and Wendy head out for final lap above.

Lap 13 unlucky for some - me yes and no! Well it was a game of two halves really. We set off together Wendy and I at speed with only 5.2 miles to go. What on earth could go wrong, after all it had run reasonably smoothly since the off? I set off at a bonkers speed and as I hit the dirt track about 1 mile in I realised that I had left Wendy trailing behind. I had had around 57 hours to warm up, she was running cold holding my drink and a bag of Salt and Vinegar twirls as back up food in case I hit the wall. After realising I was leaving the one person behind who had got me here in the first place I waited for her to catch up. We then ran at a decent pace together along the dirt track towards the road section. As I was running along I made the mistake of checking behind to see if Rich had caught me. I was aware he was quite close and I would need to get a move on to stay away from him.

As I turned my head I must have wrapped my pole around my leg and went flying to the floor. It happened so quickly I had no time to react and the next thing I knew Wendy was pulling me up off the floor crying as I was bleeding from my face. I believe I passed out for a nanosecond as everything went black and then all I could see was shattered glass and temporary blindness which fortunately lasted only seconds. As Wendy pulled me up from the floor with super human strength, I could feel blood all over the left side of my face. She was wiping it up with a Buff. I love Buffs, they are just an awesome multipurpose piece of kit! I am ashamed to say that at this moment I slightly lost control and my behaviour was like that of a small child having a tantrum I started swinging my poles around hitting the nearby bushes shouting "it's all F%$ked". Wendy quickly brought me back to reality and told me to get on and run. She had already called back to transition to get a medic out to me. There was no way I was waiting for that. I told Wendy she would have to get a lift to the top of the hill section as I wouldn't be stopping to walk. With that I was off, running flat out. I rounded the lake and hit the hill, running the whole way up like a man possessed. I had clearly lost the plot.

As I neared the top of the hill, I remembered that one of the kind residents had said they would leave some fruit out for the runners. I got to the box and went through it like a desperate animal looking to get calories into my body. After a couple of strawberries and three massive raspberries I was off again. As I reached the highest point on the run course Wendy jumped out of the car that had picked her up and joined me. Once she was with me again, a calm came over me and the animal that had taken over my body left. We then ran down through the woods on the off road section passing Paul ward (Triple) and then past the Slate Museum. I dared not look behind again to see if Rich had caught me. I asked Wendy to look behind when I had about 100 metres to go. She did, it was clear and I could relax and enjoy the last 100 metres with Wendy.

I crossed the line in 58 hours and 21 minutes having started on Saturday morning well over two days ago. The sense of relief flooded through my body. I could now stop. I collected my medal and trophy from Claire the race director and was on cloud 9. I did it, I did it, not only did I do it but I smashed it. My emotions were wild. I hugged and kissed all the support team, without them I would have never survived. I was then taken off by the medic to get the wound on my head sorted out. Sadly I was too cold and sore to hang around and see anyone else finish. Mark Dodgson came in and congratulated me which meant a lot.

The rest was a bit of a blur after this but one thing I can say is that I have total respect for my fellow Triple Athletes, including the fallen! What an amazing bunch of guys who supported each other through what was undoubtedly a pretty brutal event. I also have the utmost respect for everyone who stood on that start line and took on the half, full and double. It takes great strength from within to start it and to complete it,is a bonus. I look forward to coming back to the Brutal to support others and take enjoyment from that. Supporting is way harder than competing!
The following morning we headed down to Pete's Eats, the mecca of Llanberis for an Even Bigger Breakfast which I had become accustomed to enjoy. Without any planning or conversation, six of the other finishers were there with their friends and family. It was great to see the guys, swap stories and share experiences, a bond we had shared together. It was the icing on the cake for me.
The true hero of the event was Paul Ward, who battled on to almost 7 am Tuesday morning to finish the Triple Iron. This must have taken pure mental grit and physical stamina to keep going and I take my hat off to him!

Simon, Nigel, Rich, James, Will and Mark below! #boom
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