Iron Man (Ish)

Afternoon all,

I started doing triathlons this season and completed 4 sprints and an olympic (another olympic was planned but didnt happen.....damn tonsilitis!). After cataching the buzz i've already upped the anti and booked in to do the big woody 2014 which is just short of the iron man distance. Just wondered anybody done this event before? Anybody doing it this year? Anybody got any tips etc?

This is my first post on this site so looking forward to chatting to a few people in a similar boat to me!



  • Matt I think a fair few people have done this race in the early days .. noone that recently I have to say

    There will be a few first timers around in readiness for next year for sure

    Get some consistant training under your belt in readiness for starting a plan in the new year

  • I did the half woody some years back- the bike course is an absolute beast.  Find some hills, practice on them, rinse and repeat. 

  • +1 for the bike course - Bicknor Hill was it ? That was tough.
  • TC is a regular for this. The bike course is lumpy but nothing stupid, but you do need to get some hill practice in & those forest sheep do not obey the highway code. 

    The swim is a delight, NADC is a farily unique swim venue, fully enclosed by sheer cliffs, & perfectly clear water. Not done the current run course but its all off road and again a few minor uphills.

    Really low key event, don't expect all the bells & whistles of Mdot race, although trying to make it bigger. Free camping included! What's not to like?

  • Pete Cusick from my club won it last year - i'll paste his race report.

  • Race report – The Big Woody 25 August 2012

    I decided after my crash in Kona in October 2011 that 2012 would be a year of ultra running. That was a decision rather forced on me as I couldn’t swim for 6months and for a few months even using a turbo was painful let alone getting out on the bike.

    I hit a lot of early season running and biking targets and did well at some local duathlons. I then started stepping up the ultra running training with GUCR in mind. I was enjoying my cycling though and I started swimming – it wasn’t too long before I started looking for a 2012 A race triathlon.

    I had travelled about quite a bit last year (Roth, Kona) and that brings its own issues/stress as well as cost so a low key UK event in late August was ideal. It didn’t take long to identify TBW and looking at the results it was possible I could podium which was good source of motivation.

    Training was well down for various reasons (especially in terms of hours pw) on 2011 levels but I would just have to do the best I could. I made sure I got in five zone 2 4-5 hr bike rides which I always think is the key part of the race.

    Going into the race the main things occupying my mind were:

    a) the descent from Bream – particularly in the wet. Maybe clinchers would be better for handling and stopping?
    b) Bike choice – 25mph cross winds were predicted. Given that and the hilly nature of the course maybe a road bike with clip on tri bars would be a better choice.
    c) The weather forecast was dire.
    d) Various niggles inc R performis, both ITBs and a v tight L calf.

    In the end I decided to go with my TT bike and px50s. The calf issue was annoying as it was entirely self inflicted from wearing new off road shoes without my normal orthotics and putting in new (thicker) heel raises in my normal running shoes. Doh.

    I trained quite hard during June and July and enjoyed the 2 week taper. I also made sure I was in the right place mentally. The most important thing was to be working in the right HR zone at all times. For that reason I wore a HRM throughout the bike and run.

    I stayed with Paul and Joc Dodd who live nearby the night before the race and that worked perfectly.

  • Swim

    A torrential downpour just before the start left everything around the lake very muddy and wet. Fortunately it finished just before the start and the weather for the swim was fine.

    As we prepared to enter the water I looked at the group of athletes and there seemed plenty of competitive types. Hmm. Maybe a podium was going to be out of reach after all.

    The swim was 4 laps and it looked long to me before we even started (but then it always does!). Each lap was the entire length of the lake. First lap went well – in a nice little group etc. But things seemed to get confused after that. I found myself with no-one near me (always a bad sign). One minute I was swimming too close to the Pontoons the next minute I was miles away from them.

    The water was 17 degrees at the surface but seemed colder. I got bad cramp three times which was both painful and stressy. I took my wetsuit off immediately upon exiting the water but it didn’t work out as well as I would like. And with the cramps still buzzing I only jogged up the hill to t1 instead of running as expected.

  • Bike

    Within 2 mins I was passed by someone! What?!! I rarely get passed on the bike or the run……… advantage of being an MOP swimmer lol.

    A few mins later someone else came past me…………what!!!!??? Hmmm. Added to the fact that there must be at least 2 or 3 strong swimmers who would be good cyclists as well it was looking like I would be 6th or 7th at T2.

    I quickly dismissed the possibility that they could be LW swimmers (given we had an hour’s head start) but of course they were……….

    I then realised my second water bottle – situated in a bottle cage attached to my headset was moving. In fact the cage was loose. On closer inspection the bolt going through the headset was loose. Aside from the fact that I had just had the bike serviced…….this was serious.

    I then had a brainwave – I took the bottle out and twisted the cage 90degrees to the right – in doing so the cage tightened the screw! I kept scratching my right leg on the cage so managed to tighten it 180degrees ie upside down. It made the cage redundant as a bottle holder but that was the least of my worries.

    I was cycling well and after a while there was a sharp L turning. I was thinking “don’t brake too early”…….the roads were still wet though and I was fortunate not to take out the marshal with both a front and rear wheel skid.

    Some of the narrow lanes were muddy in places (not many but enough) and needed a lot of care. Most of the bike was dry – if it had rained it would have been much more difficult to stay upright.

    Nutrition went well for the whole bike. Solid food (eg Power bar) interspersed with gels aiming for 300cals per hr.

    I had done lots of bike hill training (expecting until recently the old dog leg up to Lakers which was v hilly) so the hills were really no problem at all. I tried to keep the effort constant although I observed 150hr on the hills. On the gentle descents I saw 125hr at times so tried harder! I wanted to be 135-145 at all times. (Bike max is 165)

    I completed the first lap in 2.38. I was initially disappointed with that but then realised that included the bit from the Diving Centre to the Alvington turning (on to the A48) and I wouldn’t have that on the second lap so 5hrs was still possible. I had done a reccie of the bike lap in a car on the Fri aftn and reckoned it was about 101miles so I had to keep pushing hard.

    I was intrigued to see some of the local tourism sites including a jail and an underground tour at a Colliery – looked interesting. Another time maybe.

    The cramping feeling from the swim took ages to feel better but it didn’t seem to be affecting my speed. I tried to keep my cadence up (to 80-90rpm) and I think that helped as well.

    Got into t2 after 5.04. The volunteer was very helpful applying suntan lotion whilst I tried to tape my feet (didn’t work and I gave up – realised after it was because my feet were wet!). He told me only one person had come into t2 doing the BW. I was sceptical about that.

  • Run

    The run course had been hastily re-organised and the first 800m was in view and looked great. Nice track and flat. I had no idea what to expect.

    It was 6 loops of an out and back lap. We were told it was just over 4miles. This was going to be very fast……or so I thought.

    After the first 800m the course turned into a country lane and started going up a gentle hill. After about 100m it got steeper then steeper still. At the top of the hill the course flattened a bit (still uphill). After another little hill we reached the feed station. I felt like I had run 4 miles already and I was only halfway to the turn around…… ……..I couldn’t believe it.

    From the feed station there was another hill then a steep downhill before climbing again to the turn around. I was disappointed to see there wasn’t a timing mat or even someone taking numbers there. To me it just invites controversy (not that I know of any in connection with this event – but why take the chance?).

    On the way to the turn round I saw 2 runners with low numbers (which I took to be BW numbers).
    About 2/3rds of the way through the first loop I saw a friend (TC) who was to finish third for the first time. I worked out therefore I was about 10-15mins in front of him. That was too close for comfort but once I thought about it, I realised that was always going to the case so the question was the same before we started – could I wheel out my normal IM run.

    I saw another friend (4th) quite early on as well and he looked to be running powerfully. I would need to keep an eye on him as well!

    I was beginning to have some doubts. My left calf was already getting stiff and the worst thing for all the niggles I had (cramp in the thighs/ITB issues/shins) was lots and lots of downhill running.

    I observed I was running 6.20-6.40 on the flat bits, sub 6min on the downhills and all sorts of times going uphill (ranging from 8mpm to 14mpm).

    I quickly overtook one of the BW runners so guessed I was now in second place. This was confirmed by TC who told me as we ran past each other “you can catch him bud” as well as “you have got this if you want it” – in fact he said something encouraging every lap apart from the last one…

    After 3 laps the leader had about a 200yd+ lead. I was reeling him quite nicely but he looked a strong runner so I would have to be careful. He might be taking it easy and have reserves etc.

    Within 100yds of starting lap 4, I caught the leader. I was thinking what do I do – normally I would surge but I was keeping the cramps at bay (by now my toes in my left foot were cramping too) so I didn’t think surging was a very good idea so I just kept shuffling. Fortunately he didn’t (or couldn’t) stay with me.

    By the time I hit the turnaround on lap 4 I knew I just had to keep it going. I was really looking forward to that 5th band……that would mean I was on the last lap and that’s always a different and uplifting experience. I always think that about an (accurate) IM bike – its really only a 103mile bike ride because once you have (just) 9miles to go you start counting down the miles and it gets easier and easier!

    After I hit the turnaround for the last time I knew it was downhill pretty much all the way and I really enjoyed the run. I thanked the feed station guys etc.

    There was only one issue though………I didn’t know if I had actually won! I was confident I had but I couldn’t be sure. Maybe someone had collected 6 bands before me? Maybe one of the competitors with the LBW numbers had switched to TBW…..and had won 30mins ago!

    I crossed the line and heard Trevor announc

  • announce me as winner in 9.27.

    I had no idea at all as to my overall time. I could have easily worked it out by asking someone the time but I never bother – no good can come of it is my approach.

    The Dodds were there which was nice. I had a quick chat with Trev and then wandered over to my car to get changed. I rang my wife (she said she wouldn’t make the 2hr round trip – with 4 kids - if the weather was bad – quite understanable) but couldn’t get hold of her. I got changed and got out of my car to see my wife and 4 children stood in front of me. They had been told (30mins earlier when they got there) that the winner normally did 10hrs so not to expect anyone for a while so they went to the café and had missed me finish………….

    Final scores on the door:

    Swim 1.30.46 (includes phaffing lakeside and the 500m run uphill to T1)
    T1 2.34
    Bike 5.04.30
    T2 3.11
    Run 2.46.56
    Total 9.27.59

  • great piece wabby! (not in that way!)

    sounds like ive got my work cut out.... Big woody seems a hell of a challenge

  • only heard good reports.apart from the fact its almostr ironman but not close enough to call it an ironman distance........

    and its so cheap to enter if you eneter now...i will do it one year soon


  • That's a cracking run time - I wonder if it was short ? I think it was 20 miles when I did it.
  • He is quick mind. Probably be able to get the Garmin data if I push him hard enough.

  • SEREN..... already booked as didnt want to give myself too long to think about whether or not to do it..... all done now, no going back

  • I think the run is 22 miles and the bike 106,,,,,,,,,

    MTri..we already have someone on the forum with the name M..Tri.your name has confused me a couple of times 

  • Seren, it confuses me as well, which doesn't take a lot at the mo'

  • This was my first HIM back in 2009, but at the old swim venue.  Relaly enjoyable and friendly event.

  • Maybe a new name could be suggested?! Ha

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