July 2018 I completed the only Ironman I was ever doing, fast forward 12 months and it’s race weekend Ironman UK 2019. Its Friday morning and I’m loading the car with all the gear for me and Gemma whilst carrying out what must be the 20th kit check then off we go full of excitement and nerves. First stop in Bolton is to drop the bikes off at the hotel where we met up with John Chambers who was his usual excitable self (not) then off we all go to race registration to collect the long anticipated Ironman backpack (I’m sure this is half the reason we do these events) registration done quick and easy then we have a few hours to kill so we relax have some food and watch the world go by sat along side the Fred Dibnah statue. A couple of hours relaxing go by then we meet up with Andy, Aaron and Shawnie and it’s off to race briefing we go and this for me is where the nerves start to build and it all becomes very real. Once all the formalities are done we all soak up the atmosphere together then head off back to the hotel to bag all the kit then time for food and a early night. Saturday morning we head off to T1 first to rack the bike hang the bike kit bag and familiarise ourselves with transition layout and the swim course, it’s then back in the car and heading to T2 in Bolton town centre to hang the run bag and again take time to learn the layout of transition. Finally that’s us done and for me once this is done all nerves seem to disappear I guess at this point there is nothing else you can do except eat well and stay on top of hydration. We wait around at transition to meet up with coach Clark and Rhydian who had got lost and also been mistaken for a local tramp according to Steve. After yet more food we meet again with Dan, Shawnie and Aaron for a chat then off to the hotel we go and take some chill time. Our evening meal was at a local Italian where we met Steve, Dan, Rhydian, John and also Camilla and Wal who had come to support.
Race day 2:50am and the alarm goes, straight in the shower full of nervous excitement then jump in the car to go catch the shuttle bus to the start. once there it’s load the bike with drink and race nutrition then try to relax before the start. our amazing support crew were there giving out hugs and words of encouragement and this is where it all gets a little emotional for me with us all wishing each other good luck out on the course ( it genuinely feels like we are all preparing to go into battle in a war zone) I then have a minute alone with Gemma to wish her well and have a little pep talk, this is where my hay fever started playing up and my eyes were watering ;-).
In the starting pen at the 1:15 pace board I now focus on the task and try to keep the heart rate as low as possible then AC/DC Thunder struck comes on and I’m just tingling with adrenaline as make my way to the water. Once in I go taking the first 100m nice and easy to find a good rhythm and some space then crack on and before I know it I’m nearing the end of lap one and making my way through the Aussie exit and starting my 2nd lap. So far it was fairly uneventful but then at the 2nd turn the group tightened up and the guy in front of me stopped dead then started to breast stroke and as he kicked he his me square in the ribs which literally knocked the wind out of me so I had to compose myself then get going again. Finally the welcome sight of the finish is now just in front of me and I’m pulled out of the water by one of the helpers a quick look at my watch and to my amazement I had a 1:13swim which was 8 minutes faster than last year I was so happy.
T1 went smooth and there was a amazing image in the tent when I looked around the amount of steam poring off all the athletes it would make a awesome picture.
Right the Bolton 2019 bike course was next up and I knew this was going to be the part of the race that puts to test every ounce of mental and physical strength (I wasn’t wrong) I had been over a couple of times before race day to recce the course so I knew it was a big challenge, the hills are just one after another and some are very long long drags which are energy sapping, the descents are sharp and technical so they are a mental challenge as well as physical and now with a added bonus of cobbles through the town centre the course is a bruiser from start to finish. From the swim there is a 17 mile rolling hill ride to the loop section and part of this is a switch back so you get to see other riders no sign of Steve he was on a mission but I saw Dan coming the other way closely followed by Shawnie they were flying, I reached the turn around and headed back along the other side thinking I hope I see Gemma then I know she’s ok. Aaron was next he was looking good but sadly I missed Gem by what I work out to around 30 seconds ( she was fine and had a great swim). Through lap 1 I was just trying to stay on top of my nutrition and ride efficiently but also carry as much speed on the descents and through the technical parts as this is my favourite part of any ride so still have fun after I had paid be there. Dotted around the course were so many friends supporting us all it was awesome including a Mr David Hinch who was sat at the bottom of of the start to sheep house climb which is the most iconic climb on the course. he is outside a pub with what looked like 100’s of people creating a Tour de France feel to the climb but as I get out of my seat to start climbing he is running along side me with a fishing rod and a packet of Hob nob biscuits on some string dangling in front of me i was laughing so hard I could hardly breath it was brilliant. Soon after I’m back in Bolton and lap one is behind me and I remember thinking that’s it Scotty you are on your way to T2 now and feeling pretty good. 5 mile into lap 2 I see Dan up ahead climbing so I push to get to him and we completed the hill side by side exchanging words of encouragement then we drift apart, deeper into the lap I start to feel tired and go through a bit of a low patch and allow my head to drop which isn’t like me but I guess the hills were taking there toll so for the next few miles I eased right up and opened up my little treat I had packed myself for times like this kind of a break glass in case of emergencies it was a nice little pork and apple pie then I reached the point where Paul, Rob, Lindsey and Zoe amongst others were and I asked if Gemma was ok? I guess seeing what she went through last year was playing on my mind and they told me she doing amazing and smashing it, armed with my treat and the good news I instantly picked up and felt good again. I guess it just shows how important your mindset is in any endurance event. Hill after hill and back heading into the town centre and starting to think about the run and I remember thinking oh god this is going to be fun as the legs had been to hell and back which also put a lot of pressure on my back and shoulders. Again T2 went smoothly making sure I was comfortable and also had a good floor stretch.
Run out steady straight into Camilla and Wal offering top support and I’m just trying to relax and tick the miles, halfway through my first lap it was clear to me it wasn’t going to be the sub 4 marathon I had hoped for but I was ok with that, sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture. Each and every lap the support from the whole crowd and especially all our friends and family was just incredible and I cannot thank you all enough. Every lap I think I saw everyone from the OTCF team which was awesome, we were all high fives and shout outs. Steve flew past on his last lap looking awesome but a puff of the cheeks towards me indicated were were all feeling it. Finally I get to see Gem and she is smiling away which made me feel amazing and so happy for her, after quick exchange of words and a cuddle I’m off to collect my yellow band and start my last lap and I see Shawnie also on her last lap so another quick cuddle and we are off.
As I try to enjoy my last lap I realised a guy that I run along side was also on his last lap and potentially going to be on the red carpet with me then hear Steve shouting go go go push it so after 139.8 miles I’m in a sprint finish for god sake. There it is in front of me the famous red carpet where the noise is unreal and the atmosphere is electric, I remember on the Saturday night Steve saying make sure you airplane down the finish so that I did high fives with as many people as I could then you hear the words “Craig Scott YOU ARE A IRONMAN” which after 2018 has more meaning than you will know 😉
In the recovery tent there is a overwhelming sense of emotion and as I said at the swim start it feels like we are all going into battle, at the finish it feels like a load of wounded soldiers returning home from battle it’s a very special feeling that is hard to put into words. As the whole OTCF team return one by one the sense of pride is overwhelming then boom my hay fever starts again.
I would like to thank everyone that supported us on the day and also in preparation for this event you all know who you are. Secondly a massive thanks the Coach Steve not only has his training schedule got us all through this monster Ironman course but he’s created a great family feel to the club, he’s always on the end of the phone to answer any question but also just to run ideas by and help when you are finding it tough. Thank you
I’m writing this sat next to a pool in Ibiza but still thinking hmmm what’s next.
P.S Dave I still want them Hob nobs