Iron Man 2014

By Megan Tapper Ironman Wales

Last Sunday (14th September) saw 1850 athletes from all over the world descend on Tenby for the ultimate long distance triathlon, Ironman Wales.

We went along to cheer on a group of local friends who were taking part. My boyfriend David, a keen triathlete who completed last year’s Ironman, was looking forward to seeing what the event looked like from the crowd’s point of view – and it didn’t disappoint!

At 7am on this beautifully sunny day the streets of Tenby were already packed as spectators gathered to witness the first part of the race – the swim. The horn sounded and the swarm of black wetsuits with bright green caps ran into the waters of Tenby’s North Beach. As mass of arms and legs faded to a quiet ripple as the 2.4 mile swim got underway with the fastest of the group taking the lead.

We watched as the athletes emerged from the sea and ran barefoot up the sandy zig zag steps to the transition zone where their trusty bicycles awaited them. A quick change of clothing, then the 112 mile cycle began. The route took the athletes on a picturesque (but very hilly) trip around the county; Carew, Narberth, Saundersfoot, Pembroke, even as far out as Angle. Every step of the way crowds of supporters cheered from the sidelines with banners, bells and clappers.

Hours passed and the vast majority of athletes (save for a few poor souls who had to drop out of the race due to illness of mechanical failure) made their way through the 112 miles to end up back in Tenby to start what many argue to be the most gruelling segment of the Ironman – the marathon. I imagine running a marathon would be the very last thing someone would feel like doing after a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile cycle, but run it they did.

David and I walked from New Hedges to Tenby as an array of faces jogged past us, some looked relatively unfazed by the feat, smiling and waving as supporters in their hundreds spurred them on. Some of the athletes, however, were visibly feeling the struggle. Grimacing and gritting their teeth; they were no doubt wishing the finish line could come sooner!

The marathon was four laps of the same route, Tenby to New Hedges and back again, collecting a coloured band each time a lap was completed. By the time the front runners were collecting their third and fourth bands, many of them seemed to gain a second wind of energy, knowing the end was nigh!

We made our way to the finishing line to cheer for our friends as they miraculously found the energy to sprint those last few yards to collect their medals. Their faces were etched with a mixture of relief, joy, pain and disbelief that they had well and truly earned the title – Ironman!

Categories:Events and Whats On, Pembrokeshire

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