ArranMan Half Ironman report

posted 19 Jun 2015, 05:02 by Enquiries campbeltownrunningclub   [ updated 19 Jun 2015, 05:03 ]
By Elaine McGeachy

We did it!!!  After months of anxiety attacks and lots of training, ArranMan half-Ironman was finally complete on Sunday - YAY YAY YAY!

Lamlash Bay AFTER the event.... how we imagined it to be for the swim

ArranMan, a half Ironman triathlon that involves a 1.2 mile open water swim, a very hilly 56 mile cycle around the WHOLE island followed by a half-marathon (13.1 mile) run.  Not for the faint hearted!  Something that I had on my bucket list and I thought achievable - surely if you could swim, cycle and run you could do it??  It's difficult to find an event like this in Scotland so to find one just across the water was an opportunity (can I call it that?!) that wasn’t going to be missed and I blame Alix Geyer and Fiona Irwin for spotting it. In fact, I'm sure James Murdoch and Jennifer Martin had something to do with it too. If it went unnoticed I may not have bothered but their enthusiasm (I'm sure a drunken night out was involved...) and determination rubbed off on me and I found it hard to say no to the challenge!  The gauntlet was set down and once it was decided we were doing it - WE WERE DOING IT!

Marjorie (only crazy woman who enjoyed swim) and Fiona in their wetsuits all ready for the big challenge

There were 4 individual 'dafties' from Campbeltown taking it on - myself, Fiona, Will Bowman (who has just moved to Campbeltown and signed up just a few weeks ago) and J-F Alix's little brother - she obviously persuaded him too!!  Alix had since downgraded to a relay team (Alix!!!) with her swimming, James Murdoch cycling and Tommy Morran running.  An awesome team but as we started to chat about the event another team signed up - Iain Reid cycling, Darren Renton running and Stuart Campbell swimming.  Well that team was fair going to give some competition and boy they did, beating the other team!  Jennifer Martin (cycling and running) and Marjorie Leighton (swimming) only signed up a few weeks ago giving us a big gang to descend on Arran for the weekend, and what a weekend we had!

Lamlash Bay at 9am Sunday morning was very daunting and uninviting – the sky was dark and the waves were choppy, not the calm blue sea we were expecting.  I have to admit I was petrified!  I had been training for over 6 months for this event but now the day was here and the nerves had kicked in.  I hadn’t had my optimal 8 hours sleep and I couldn’t eat planned porridge due to anxiety and was even sick before leaving the house!  Nevertheless, I knew that I had to eat something because I needed the fuel so I forced down half a banana and a coffee before squeezing into my wetsuit and racking my bike.

Us in the water... how Lamlash REALLY looked

Along with my fellow friends Alix, Marjorie, Fiona, J-F, Will, Stuart and all other 150 competitors, we waded in chest deep to start the 2 lap race and we rallied round each other, forcing smiles and positive chants - "we can do this".  Canoeists and boats were barely visible beneath the waves making it difficult to sight and go in the right direction!  I lost sight of all my fellow swimmers including Marjorie who I'd hoped to keep in front of me.  The headwind between the 2 bhoys made it feel like I was going backwards as I struggled against the current and the only things that kept me going were the jellyfish below me and knowing my family and friends were standing on the beach supporting me!  I didn’t want to let them down and although I had swam the distance countless times before, I had regularly skipped this part of the training, opting for the Aqualibrium’s heated pool instead.  I couldn’t see anyone else around me and had lost all concept of time so was delighted when I scrambled upon the beach in just over 50 minutes.  I was disorientated and cold but with the encouragement of my husband Stuart, sister Mairi and friends I got to transition where I took over 6 minutes to get ready for the bike section.  I’m glad I listened to the advice to take my time here as it allowed me to compose myself and dry off a little.  I also snacked on a flapjack which perked up my energy levels!   Marjorie emerged from the water as I was getting changed with a huge smile on her face and the words "that was awesome!"  She is obviously mental - how can you enjoy that?!

Alix is all smiles after swim

I had cycled Arran before but I had forgotten how hilly the course was.  Almost immediately I was stopped due to an accident where a poor triathlete was knocked off his bike.  However, I only realised what had happened at the end.  I found the first 35 miles tough but strangely enjoyable despite the numb hands and feet.  I managed to overtake a few people and a couple of men overtook me including James just before the Lochranza climb so it was nice to see a friendly face, even if he did leave me for dust!  I was expecting him!   I decided there and then I was investing in a new bike and would finally get round to using cycling shoes and clips!  The scenery was breathtakingly beautiful and the sun started to appear after the first hour to dry me off.  I was greeted by other athletes and even the toot of the horn from some friends over supporting which spurred me on up the hills.  I decided not to stop for the feed stations but I did have to stop for the toilet as well take on a few gels, 1 litre of water and a rice crispie square!  After 40 miles the road got a bit lonely, with only the sea and hills for company and just wanted it to end.  I was SOOO happy to see Lamlash Bay again and ever so grateful not to get a puncture – phew!

Iain Reid is quick out the transition on his bike

James jumps on his bike ready to hunt everyone else down!

Transition 2 gave me a new lease of life as my nieces Adelle and Jessica along with my family and friends were there to motivate me!  I took on more water and another gel before starting the run and prepared for the 'jelly legs' after the bike.  The half-marathon route wasn’t well signposted or marshalled but I managed to follow another runner on to the right track and down a farm road where I managed to overtake a lot of people and I spotted Will who was cruising in to finish the race in 4th place, wow - he is a machine!  I felt surprisingly strong at this point and after the first 2-3 miles I could see a tall, blonde runner out in front of me.  Was that Jennifer?  I didn't see her at all on the cycle so I thought she must be miles ahead. It wasn’t until I was just a few metres away from her I realised it definitely was her!  I was so happy to see her and from then on we got stronger and stronger, helping each other all the way, I couldn't have done it without her.  

Jen kept me going!  As did all the support at transition!!!

We chatted away like it was one of our normal training runs, keeping our minds occupied as we tried to keep a good pace, continuing to overtake competitors – and cows!  We also saw fellow Campbeltown runners including Darren, Tommy and Fiona who were going great and it was brilliant to get a smile and a high 5 from them!  My husband Stuart was running with Tommy too but caught up with us to keep us going and providing us with gels.  Coming into the transition area boosted us once again as all our supporters were there cheering us on and handing us energy gels.  We could do this, one final 10.5k lap to go! 

CRC Cream Team Tommy, Alix and James

Tommy powering to the finish

Darren smiles as he gets his PB of 1.30

Pint time!  Stuart, Darren and Iain happy that it's over
It was now mid-afternoon and was pretty hot so as well as grabbing gels from Stuart and Jamie G, we took on more water too where I tipped one over my head, anything to keep cool!  However, what I didn’t realise that it was an energy drink so I was now covered in sticky liquid!  I didn’t care, I just wanted to get to the end.  “Never again!” we kept repeating.  But it was all smiles when we approached the finish line – we were so happy, WE DID IT!  I couldn’t believe when I saw the timing clock at 6 hours 47 minutes, much faster than I had anticipated to complete it in despite the tough conditions so I was completely ecstatic!  I couldn’t wait to tuck into the post-race goodies and get a hot shower.  I was stunned to win 3rd senior female but think I was actually 4th or 5th overall female in the results, which I’m still very happy with -  just to finish such an epic race for me was such an achievement – I was elated!  The relay teams were already finished and they all did brilliantly, getting fantastic times - Darren even getting a PB for his half marathon!  Fiona and J-F weren’t far behind me to finish the full race so the post-race refreshments soon followed.  

Will breezing in 4th place
Fiona celebrates crossing the finish line!
It wasn’t until near 11pm as the sun was setting on Arran for the day we returned back to Campbeltown by boat, a fantastic end to a fantastic weekend.  We did it!  I loved it.  I hated it.  I loved it.  I am so proud of us all for doing it - it was an incredible achievement for us all.  We overcame fears, we worked hard and persevered to that finish line.  Will I do another one?  Will I do a full ironman?  I doubt it.  But we’ll see…. maybe the others will persuade me again...

Campbeltown Race Results:

Name                          Swim               T1                    Cycle               T2        Run                 Overall time
Will Bowman
Team Sid – Swim Stuart Campbell, Cycle Iain Reid, Run Darren Renton
Crc Cream Team – Swim Alix Geyer, Cycle James Murdoch, Run Tommy Morran
Elaine McGeachy
Jen Mar – Swim Marjorie Leighton, Cycle and Run Jennifer Martin
Fiona Irwin
J-F Geyer

Celebrating with a meal and a few refreshments :-)
glorious sunset as we board our boat home