The weekend was shared with fellow athletes Gary Horner, Brad Porter and Dean Atkinson and a top notch support crew which through rivalry, camaraderie and banter made it an awesome weekend, especially as we all completed it.
We met at registration and the competition had already started between us to see who could buy the most IM gear from the Expo, it was a close one and I’m sure Gary wanted a towel but the ‘Boss’ said no! We had a quick walk through the athlete village, checked transition and swim start before checking into our house – what a fab place, so good I have booked it again next year. We returned to North beach for a quick swim in the sea. High tide was 1730 and there were quite a few who had the same idea. Not too far but a good swim to calm the nerves and eliminate the worry of the hoards of jelly fish reported – I think I saw one. Return to the house and a quick spin on the bike where Gary and I got lost. We rode just under 9 miles but did more elevation than the local two bridges ride which is around 48 miles door to door – this would be the theme of the weekend, not many flat roads round here!
Saturday was another chilled and relaxed day. Race brief at 1000 following which bikes and transitions bags were dropped off – it was happening, no turning back now. It had been raining all Friday night and Saturday morning but had stopped by this point, the forecast wasn’t actually too bad for race day for a change as 2017 was brutal (40mph winds and torrential rain), another relaxing evening with a meal in a local pub and early night. 0330 and the alarm was going off, I had actually slept well. The others were up also sharing the delight of forcing breakfast down in an ungodly hour. We travelled to transition together, it was a bit like we started together, and we finished together. Final preparations were made in transition and bikes loaded with food. The call came at 0620 to start making our way on to the high street where the self-seeded queue for the swim start began. We had had discussions on what time we would line up at, much to my discontent, we ended up at the 1 hour 5 marker but we all started together. 0645 and it was time for the Welsh national anthem, following which we decided we were going to become Welsh! It was sung by a male opera singer (who was also racing) and about ten thousand other people – spine tingling is the only way to describe it.
0655 saw the pro’s start and the fastest swimmers of the Age Groupers starting at 0700. I believe we entered the water at 0708. The dash for the first buoy was a bit too hectic for my liking when we made the turn I stayed to the edge trying to keep out of the way. By the time I had reached the next buoy, things had calmed down a bit as everyone had found their rhythm and pace. The swim felt relaxed and comfortable with
I cannot explain in words what the atmosphere was like in Tenby as the whole town just embraces it, 2017 was awesome in terrible conditions, 2018 surpassed this by a mile as with better weather the streets were absolutely rammed like you have never seen – I have experienced nothing like it.
Thanks as usual to Steve Clark at Off That Couch Fitness for expert guidance and coaching, Gary, Brad and Dean and not forgetting our fab support crew who we shared this magic experience with.
Here’s to next year with a third visit to slay the dragon and a warm up in Bolton first!