Ironman is a worldwide event that challenges competitors to swim 2.4 miles in a lake or the Sea, then cycle over a usually hilly course finished off with a marathon run. The overall winners and age group winners then go on to compete at the World Championships in Kona Hawaii.
This year Cliff Eccles of Pestokill decided to tackle Ironman. He started out on his Ironman Journey in August 2014 after watching a friend compete in the UK ironman event in July 2014.
It was then he made the mistake of saying, “I could do that!” Cliff had never done a triathlon before and was interested to see if he could manage all three events in the allotted 18 hour time frame allowed by Ironman UK.
Eventually he paid the entry fee and that was it, Cliff said his first thought was, “I better learn how to swim properly.”
Cliff said, “I decided to do the event to support Breast Cancer Care, who had been very supportive to my wife in the two years previous after suffering with Breast Cancer.
“I was a decent cyclist having completed over 6,000 miles on my bike during 2014 however, I’m not really built for running and whilst I could run it wasn’t something I enjoyed.”
Cliff started to train for the event in September 2014 and realised how difficult it was going to be, especially the swimming, this was the most challenging of the three disciplines. “If you stop pedalling on a bike you just come to a stop, if you don’t put one foot in front of the other whilst running you stop, if you stop swimming you sink and I did so on many occasions” said Cliff.
Cliff continued to train and in early 2015 he was training six days per week over the three different disciplines and still struggling to swim properly.
The weather started to warm up and training became more enjoyable. Cliff said his swimming had improved and he was now swimming in open water instead of the local pool.
Cliff’s commentary on competing in the UK Ironman
“July 19th came along very quickly and there I was at 6 am at Pennington flash with 2,300 other like-minded fools who had signed up for the UK Ironman.
“We entered the freezing cold water and started out on the 2.4 mile swim, I got kicked and punched and felt like I was in a washing machine for the first 20 minutes. The total swim took me 1 hour and 30 minutes.
“Into transition one to get my wet suit off, soon enough I was on my bike and up over the hills to complete the 112 mile course which finished in Bolton. The total ride time was 6 hours 31 minutes.
“Into transition two the cycle kit came off and Vaseline applied to all essential areas, then on with my trainers to try and run a marathon; as you can imagine by now I’m just a bit tired.
“I had a plan to run for nine minutes and then walk for one minute, in the most I followed this and was doing fine but I hit a wall around mile 14 and I started to suffer. My feet were extremely sore and I felt a blister pop inside my shoe on my big toe. I carried on but was drastically slowing down; at mile 22 I seemed to gain a second wind as the end was now in sight.
“26.2 miles and I was crossing the line to a huge cheering crowd, including my friends and family, the announcer shouted the words, “Cliff you are an Ironman” this was music to my ears.”
Cliff’s total time for the whole event: 14 hours 37 minutes.
When asked if he would do it again, his reply was… “Never again!”
Cliff would like to say a huge thank you to his wife, Donna, family, friends, colleagues and fantastic support from the pest control industry suppliers who helped me to raise a total of £1,600 for Breast Cancer Care.