A report by Simon Baldwin of the Exmoor 70.3 Ironman.
Only my second middle distance race, the UK 70.3 Iron man was a 1.2mile swim, 56.2 mile Bike and 13.1 mile run. It is a common distance now with 50 qualifying races Worldwide for the World Championship in America held annually.
However the course is not a common course and as the only UK qualification race it is also labelled the toughest course in the World. The swim is as wet and flat as most and with 1600 people in a mass start it is never easy. Exiting in 35 min a couple of minutes slower than hoped I was faced with the very steep 400m run jog or crawl into transition.
Whilst catching what breath I had left I battled with my wet suit that was intent on staying stuck to me for the day, after persuading it otherwise and a rather slow transition, it was time for the bike. The bike route starts with a 15 min climb before seeing any flat and then you are rewarded with some flat and very fast down hill sections through the trees with speeds of 46 miles per hour, which on TT bars can be fun but also pretty hairy.
The second half of the lap is a pretty hilly affair including a 15-degree climb making the likes of Leigh Hill look very average. Unfortunately I dropped a chain twice and got a slow puncture for the last 6 miles, although not flat enough to stop, I used a lot more energy to keep the pace and maintain a fairly solid bike time of 3h08 min over the hilliest Triathlon course I have ever encountered.
Onto the run and yet more hills, the 3 lap route included hills as steep as 14 degree on each lap. Unfortunately my depleted energy levels from the bike were beginning to show early on and I was unable to pick up the pace as planned finishing with a 1h45min run.
Although not my best race and a top 10 expectation slipped to 26th in age group and 156 overall, I was reminded this was only my second middle distance race on not an average course and against some quality middle distance racers. For anyone looking to take on a great course and the toughest Half Ironman in the World, it’s ours and it’s in Somerset!