My day out at IMSA

If you fancy a read, a great race and one that would defo benefit from a pirate representive image

Ok, so while its fresh in mind I thought I would write my race report from Sunday. Coming into this race I’d been on great form, the plan was an hour swim, 5.05hours on the bike and then a 3.20/30 marathon. All my times in training suggest that this was a real goer and that I was being realistic for Coach Pain and I.

We arrived in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday afternoon, and on the Thursday we registered, got everything we needed to so that then we could relax and prep for the race. Carl and Noel who had also travelled from Dubai and had arrived at the same time as us, so we had so we had some company, which was great. During the rest of the week more of the team from Dubai started to arrive (with bikes after they had been left Joburg!).

Going into this race I’d found it much of hanging around people a little difficult, I’ve never made it a secret of my wish to qualify for Kona. I’m also not someone who when asked will give a lesser time, so as just to look better with their final result. I shoot from the hip and say it the way it is, however this had created a fair expectation (quite rightly) with teammates friends in South Africa, Dubai and around the world. The same is said for Carl (in the 55-59 age group), so there was fair amount of pressure going into this race.

The weather had been something of much debate throughout the week. There had been some huge winds (Ghantootish - 40kph) a couple of days before hand and the sea had been rough too. There was even some talk of making the race run, bike, run, because conditions were so rough out in the sea. I wasn’t too worried about this, we had trained in much worse in Dubai and to be honest while it would have made the day less pleasurable it would, I feel played into my hands more. However, on the day there was a slight easterly wind and the sea was fine.


  • We racked everything on the Saturday, had an early tea and got the best night’s night I have ever had before a race. I felt very relaxed, as I felt for the first ever no stone had been left unturned and I was in the best shape and form of my life, I was in fact excited, I couldn’t wait to get going.

    Morning came and we made our way down the transition early before all the crowds got there. We got everything sorted and then waited. Just before the start we set up on the start there was pod of dolphins swimming across the bay about 50m out to sea. It was awesome to see and a sight I will never forget. I kind of thought it was a message that the day was going to be good, but then there were 2000 other people and I guess they did too! I did my quick warm up, made my way up to start, ready to kick off.

    Boom! The canon went. That was it, complete and utter confusion and chaos. This was one of the most physical swims I have ever done. I was dunked, swam over and punched. Now I‘m used to it, we train in JBR sea swims and I have done races before where it’s been rough, but for reason this seemed worse. I’m big believer in giving some of that medicine back and I did. I got out of the first lap in 30 minutes, which was ok, but I was a little disappointed. I ran up the beach, around the crowd and then back into the sea. The second lap was pretty much the same as the first, apart from that there weren’t as many drafts to go around. Getting out for the second time I was on 1.02, again I was a little disappointed, but I knew at that point I had to make a choice on the bike, to roll the dice, to either go for it and try to hang on in the run or to be steady and possibly still end up hanging in on the run anyway.

    T1 was ok, but there weren’t many helpers. So I did the bag packing and all that on my tod. I grabbed my bike, made my way to the mount line, flying leaped, mounted and I was off. The first part of the lap was up a hill and in the practice lap I had done earlier in the week this seemed quite easy, however it suddenly seemed about a 10% harder climb, ouch. I was feeling tired and I was struggling to get into my rhythm, which is something I never normally have a problem with. I started to feel a bit better towards the end of my first lap, however the roads, while I had heard from good authority that they were rough, they were so rough, very rough. It was like riding on big sand paper. There were some bumps and patches were they had tired to improve the surface, but it was just the surface, so harsh. There was one stretch of beautiful road and it was bliss, heaven, I loved it. The rest of the route was hard work. Then again this is Ironman, you’re not going to get it free. Towards the end of the second lap the bike starting making all sorts of funny noises, it sounded like Neil’s bike on a good day, I knew it was taking a battering from the road (it was also quite annoying). As well, as the bike getting a pounding I was starting to feel a little ill. Most of what I put into my stomach was bouncing back up a blue colour. This was worrying me if I couldn’t keep anything down then I was going to really struggle on the marathon. My feet were also starting to hurt, which I can only think came from the surface again.
  • The highlight of the bike course for me was riding along side (and overtaking) Natasha Badmman, the 6 times Ironman World Champion. She is a real inspiration. She quickly spoke to her as I went past, stating it was a real honour to be riding with her, she thanked me and wished me luck. The rest of the bike was just hard, bumpy and not the most enjoyable ride I’ve ever done. T2 was fine, a quick pee, trainers, headsweat, fuelbelt on and then off out for a little run of 42km.

    From the start again I didn’t feel right, the plan was to go at 4.30 for as long as I could then reassess from there, but from the beginning my feet were really hurting, probably from the road surface on the bike. I was quickly overtaken by Natasha B, where she thanked me for my words of encouragement on the bike and in doing so she did the same to m on the run. This is what Ironman is all about I feel it so often brings the very best out in people and I stand by what I’ve in the past, it’s made me the person I am today.

    I was still being sick, however now instead of it being blue it had changed its colour to a brown (coke) foam. My pace dropped around the back of the university and I was really starting to struggle. I wasn’t sure if I was going finish, as I couldn’t keep coke/water down and I was feeling sick pretty much throughout the run. My feet were still hurting but by now on the second lap I had got used to it, but as I was still being sick and cramping, at this point I knew I had reassess my goals – finishing was the only goal I had in my mind now. I started to run walk and I knew that my dream this time had pretty much slipped away, however I was now simply focused on finishing. The crowds down the main street of PE were great and they really got behind you. The aid stations seemed to come by nice and quickly, but out by the university by the back of the coarse things were different and very quiet, aid stations seemed to take forever to get to and it was a real a struggle just to keep going.

    I started to third lap knowing that it would be a matter of time before I would finish. The Kona slot had gone, as had my hoped time of a PB finish, I was now simply looking to finish this race. As I came down towards the main street for the last time I picked my pace up (4.45mpkm!), still with coke foam projecting from my stomach, I headed to the finish chute where I saw one other person turn off to finish. He was about 100m in front of me, game on. Getting strength from somewhere (not sure where) I pushed myself towards him, turning into the finishing chute I just overtook him, he turned out to be a Pro who had a worse day at the office than me. Running down the chute I remember high fiving a couple of kids, going up the ramp, hearing that I had finished and then it all went a little dark. I heard someone shouting to get me out of the finish area, I tried to stand up but really couldn’t. Then six nice South Africa Army guys picked me up and ended up in the Medi Tent being stripped, cooled, HR taken and all that. The day wasn’t complete, the bed in the Medi Tent collapsed on me, which looking back was funny.
  • A couple of days after the race how do I feel? Well, second amateur Brit overall, 10th in my age group with a time of 10:07, I’m gutted, upset and disappointed to be fair. You ask yourself many questions during an Ironman race, you doubt yourself many times, you go to so many dark places, that when you reach the finish line you feel like you made it. You go through those places in training, you sacrifice so much to even get to the start line of a race like Ironman, time, money, food, beer, time with love ones. To name a few and all you can hope for is that at the end of the day the pieces of the puzzle come together it will come together on race day. This is now my sixth Ironman race in four years. Four years ago I never thought I would even be anywhere near the level I am now. To be even thinking about challenging to get to Kona is a dream, but maybe that’s part of my problem and other age groupers out there in the a similar position to me. For dreams to happen you have to believe. You have to have people who believe in you and you have to believe in yourself. Maybe on this occasion half of that equation was there and the other wasn’t. Maybe I didn’t believe enough in myself. It was a tall ask to come to SA with only 30 slots available and qualify for Kona, but it’s now one that after the race I believe I can do. I truly do believe, it will happen, I will take Sarah to Hawaii one October and I will race on the big island of Hawaii. On a side note congrats to the guys who also travelled to PE to race from T2A to race, those of you who were 5 timers and Ironman virgins well done to all. Well done to Chrissie Wellington (who broke the world record again and recorded the fastest running spilt of the day, men and women) and Raynard Tissink (overall winner and record holder). Also all the guys who we caught up with while being over there Toby, Megs and the Cunnama family, Rob and Ash it was great to see you and hopefully we'll do it again soon.

    All that is left to say is a massive thank you to all the people who got me to the start line, Adrian at, Toby Jones at, the team at, my coach Jason Metters and all the team/training partners at Lastly, and most importantly, Sarah without you I couldn’t even get to the start line, let alone finish an Ironman. Thank you, all of you.

    Train safe,

  • At least you didn't fall on your arse on the run. That takes a real pro (if you caught the ITU from Sydney).

    Tough race, well done, nuff said.


  • Yep, nice job well toughed out.
  • well done Snorks. A really good race report. I really enjoyed reading it and your honesty is very inspirational.

    look forward to reading your kona report one day image

  • great report.....
    one day, one day....
  • Snorks is quietly, almost sneakily, but definitely, orsum.

    Big respect dude. Incredible focus. A worthy Kona er

  • Snorks, nice report, good effort you will get there but you like me have been spoilt by riding on the baby bum smooth Dubai tarmac !

  • Well done toughing it out Snorks.... Awesome effort .... Lots of respect!

    Great report 

    Kona will be in the bag one day... you're nearly there. 

  • Dave - tell me about it, smooth as bouncing barlists bottom they are!
  • Great report mate, shame about being ill for the run (I know what that is like)

    Very inspirational

  • Well done Snorks, and great report.
  • nice one Snorks - a hard day at the office as they say but well stuck to the task

    un autre fois as they say - probably not in Dubai though... image
  • Great report Snorks.

    You just have to read that report to know that one day you WILL get to Kona.
  • One day it's all gonna come together for you Snorks - looking forward to reading all about it!

    See you in Henderson!

    If you think you can or you think you can't you're probably right.
  • Nice report Snorks, sounds a toughie, bouncebackability I think is the phrase, glad you were OK at the end.
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