Having qualified for the race back in 2019 at Staffs 70.3, I was already aware of what of a difference a day makes… let alone two years! Having to differ for the time with a new job, new house, schedules, and rules, etc. It made it so apparent the amount of time I would have to put in… but here we are in 2022, with a better work-life balance, I just really wanted to do the race.

Going into the race week, we arrived in St. George, Utah (American flag) expecting a standard desert climate… hot and dry! 

Now, being a bigger individual, I wasn’t looking forward to this – but when I arrived, we had very odd weather for the region and time of year; the temperatures had plummeted to 3-4 degrees Celsius… it was SO COLD.

In terms of my target aspiration, and knowing I would be competing against the best in the world (overall and for my age), I had three main and one stretch goal:

  1. To not finish last
  2. To not finish in the bottom 25%
  3. To not finish in the bottom 25% of my age group

As a stretch target, I was aiming to finish within a sub-5 hour time, despite it being a hilly course. 

The day before race day came, and we had the pleasure of watching the professional and age group women due to the splitting of genders for the race. 

After, we went to rack and prep for the men’s race (quickly noticing that although I’ve lost a lot of weight…. I was indeed bigger than the average bear) …. and then relaxed as it was a 3 am start in the morning! 

Race Day

It was a very early start to take an old-school US bus to Sand Hollow Reservoir. I wanted to get there early so that I could set up my bike, catch up with a few fellow friends I’d met along the way, and enjoy the atmosphere and stunning sunrise prior to starting… and of course, let the nerves build up – ready for the off!!!! 

Swim – 30:53

From a strong swimming background, I was more than comfortable with my target of 30 minutes for the 1.2-mile swim and didn’t disappoint myself. The swim was beautiful – clear water and not too cold despite the air temp – although, I should have seeded myself towards the front as I spent a lot of time swimming around people. 

[Top 16% AG & 20% OA]. 

Bike – 2:38:45

Having spent far too much time in my first transition, I jumped on my bike and started the spectacular and fast 56-mile bike. My target was 2:30:00 for a normal 56-mile bike – I knew this would be a little difficult due to the 3,700 feet of climbing. 

What a stunning backdrop to a race with beautiful scenery, challenging hills and amazing descents – hitting 45mph at one point… with absolutely fantastic roads, which is something you notice after bobbling along the beautiful British countryside on our pothole-scoured roads… 

Overall, I managed to hold my own, but suffered a little on the final climb up Snow Canyon, the largest of the climbs at mile 44 or four miles before a long and very very fast descent into the second transition feeling good! 

[Top 35% AG & 35% overall].

Run – 1:39:42

For me, the run is normally the most uncomfortable effort of any race. Surprisingly though, having taken the bike relatively relaxed compared to usual for me (knowing the run was also hilly), I felt shockingly good for the 13 miles ahead. 

On the first loop of the two-loop run, I was holding my own, keeping a good pace and cadence, but obviously seeing some of the much better runners go by…. Including my friend Tom who came 8th in his age group!

In the final 4-miles, I could start to feel myself tie up. but knew that I was holding my own and could come within my stretch target of 5 hours and irrespective of my finish position knew a sub-5 hour Half Ironman is more than a credible time – so after seeing some of the guys who had come out to support on my last lap shouting at me to go for it… I did! 

Swinging my little arms and legs as if my life depended on it for the last two miles… and I did it! 

[Top 35% AG & 34% overall].

Finished 4:58:46  

So, in summary… WHAT A RACE!!

It was an epic race, with magical scenery, smooth roads and course, an amazing atmosphere, supporters, and volunteers in such an amazing place in the world. 

I surprisingly smashed my expectations and a huge achievement for me – which in context for some people, means from all those who qualified from events around the world I finished within the top 35% of everyone! 

It has taken a week to sink in…. and still hasn’t, It’s so much higher than I expected!

Lastly, this was all done to support two fantastic charities and I owe a lot of thanks to my family, Black Cat and all the awesome supporters, near and far, along the way. 

Lullaby Trust, which raises awareness of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Donate here is Lorna’s link with whom I am co-raising for – HERE

Giving to Ukraine – Which is a charity set up to support directly those most in need in Ukraine. Donate HERE

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