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Advice on which iron man course for first event

I'm looking for advice on which iron man triathlon to do next season (2017) as my first long distance event.  

Over the last four years I've gone from a 19 1/2 stone slob to having the fitness to complete all of the tri distances up to half iron last year in a breathtaking 7 hours 20 - well it certainly took my breath away! 

My main aims would be a freshwater swim and a reasonably flat run - I did my half iron at the Monster Middle in Ely last year which is a very hilly run and I ended up walking a lot more than I wanted.

I've also over the last few years completed a few long distance swims like the Hampton Court Swim on the Thames (3.6km in 1h 26) and bike rides like Lands End to John O'Groats (980 miles in a leisurely 14 days averaging about 70 miles per day) so my swim/bike stamina is not my main concern, my running is my weak spot hence wanting to avoid challenging hills as far as possible on the run. 

This year I consolidated and did an Olympic and a few sprints to build up my overall speeds.

Obviously I am looking to complete not compete - based on my previous times I'm confident I can finish in well under 16 hours so my target will be to get as near to 15:30 as I can.  I was incredibly proud to finish each of my tri's so far and have raised a lot of money for cancer research (this all started with my own diagnosis 3 1/2 years ago - all fine now thankfully!)

Any advice on events will be very gratefully accepted.


  • Hi, I am in exactly the same position as you, this time last year I weighed 97kg now down to 78kg.

    I have done 8 OLymics this year and I am doing my first half IM at the end of September in the New Forrest and I am planning my first full IM next year.

    A bunch of people from my Triathlon club completed the Vichy IM last weekend, for most of them it was their first IM. I understand that the ride is pretty flat and the swim is held at an international rowing venue . Next year it will be held on 27 August

    I am also looking at Weymouth IM for next year, it is held in early September, so time for a full year's training - even though it is a sea swim, Weymouth Bay is normally pretty calm.

    Given that I may only do one IM in my life, it makes sense to me to do one of the big flagship events. I am originally from Weymouth, my parent live directly opposite the transition area, and it is one of the 3 official IM events held in the UK..... however, I also like the idea of a week in Vichy

  • Hi, congrats on the 70.3 success!

    I did my half-ironman last year and really enjoyed it - quite strange, during that year I also did lots of sprint & olympic triathlons throughout the county that I'm in, but it was the 70.3 that I truly enjoyed. There was such a sense of fun, support and achievement there that I've not seen at my more local tris.

    I've also decided to attempt an ironman in 2017 and had similar thoughts re which course etc. I've had a rotten season so far for illness & motivation and thought this might help to inspire me (it hasn't quite worked yet tho'!). In the end I plumped for the Ultimate Triathlon in Dearnford Lake, Shropshire (miles away from where I live). It's meant to be a good one for newbies, the swim's in a lake, and the cycle & run routes look reasonable (I spent quite a while researching and gathering advice!). These could all be famous last words, of course...!

    It's not an 'official' Ironman but neither was my 70.3, and that was just as good an event (& considerably cheaper too). I think that the Ultimate Triathlon is similarly better value - well, I hope it will be anyway!

    Hope that helps - and maybe see you there! But loads of good luck with whichever event you choose!
  • Thanks both for the ideas.  I was definitely thinking to stick to the UK - I drove down to the South of France past Vichy for my hols this year and it was an exhausting drive so I'd need to take probably a week off to make it worth while and it would get pretty expensive. 

    The Ultimate Triathlon looks like the perfect option for me! Looks like a really nice lake swim (similar to my training lake here in Shepperton), the bike leg looks good - not flat which I know can totally destroy you for the marathon run - but also by no means too hilly - and the run is largely on grass which really suits me and will be much easier on my joints as I do most of my training off road.  Also as it's mostly around the lake it looks to be very flat.

    That's definitely a winner for me - I hadn't come across it before so I really appreciate the recommendation. I have no interest in the official IM events - just want to prove to myself I can do the distance.  

    The only down side is it's quite early in the season (OMG - only 38 weeks away!) - I'd hoped to get a few shorter events in as part of my training and the season doesn't kick off til April but that's far from the end of the world.  I did have a crazy idea about trying to do every tri distance in one year so I could easily do a super-sprint / sprint before June and then standard and half iron after as a "warm down"

    Really excited now - it's payday later this week so I will sign up then!! 

    Thanks again, and yes, maybe see you there! 


  • Outlaw in Nottingham, gently undulating bike with a couple of hills, completely flat riverside run. Great organization, really good price.

  • Andrew4Andrew4 Posts: 190

    Ditto on the Outlaw... the best run event I have attended (the half), lake is flat, transition easy to navigate, the run couldn't be flatter if you have 0 elevation on a treadmill, only downside is that the road quality is more like a cross race than a triathlon... if you want to wait until 2018, be really quick on the trigger finger and travel to Germany, I'd do Roth, roads are perfect and fast, run is on flat trails so its easier on the knees without giving ankle turning risks and there's 200,000 barmy German fans!

  • Hi Ken,


    I'm late to the thread but was in the same place. My weight still fluctuates and I am not a super light 78kg athlete even at the best of time. My suggestions would be to do Roth if there is any chance of getting in - best thing I've ever done. Not an M-dot event but is recognised as the best event in the world. Flailing that think about Austria or Barcelona - early and late in the season = not too hot - honestly something you need to think about. trust me. And the weather is usually good but not too hot.


  • ken1969ken1969 Posts: 11

    Now booked the Ultimate Triathlon in Shropshire - going abroad just looked too expensive and too much hassle with transport, time off etc.  Shropshire's a 4 hour drive each way, Roth, or Austria / Barcelona would either have meant a flight (buying a bike box etc and not having all my own gear close to hand) or more than twice the journey time driving.  Just didn't make sense for me.

    The Outlaw sounded like an option - it would have given me a month longer to prep - but it is one of the most popular UK events so not going to risk being slow off the mark and not getting a place. 

    I've been working on my training plan and could see that barring major disasters I should be able to get fit enough to complete which is all I'm concerned about. 

    I feel relieved to have it booked, excited about the challenge and mildly terrified now!  

    I've been work


    Thanks again all for the suggestions, may see some of you there!


  • Eek! Thats great news! Will keep an eye out for you - and thank you, too: you're inspiring me to get on properly with my training (somewhat haphazard of late...time for me to have a far more disciplined approach, I think!).

    I did have hopes for an 11-ish hr time - I know! I'm giggling as I write this...as the days go by I'm gradually increasing that time to a more realistic figure, tho' actually I just want to finish it within the time cut-off - I've certainly forgotten about that flippin' 11 hours!!

    Hope to see you there - do keep in touch, would be great to find out how your training's going!

    All the best - Lou ????
  • Eek! Thats great news! Will keep an eye out for you - and thank you, too: you're inspiring me to get on properly with my training (somewhat haphazard of late...time for me to have a far more disciplined approach, I think!).

    I did have hopes for an 11-ish hr time - I know! I'm giggling as I write this...as the days go by I'm gradually increasing that time to a more realistic figure, tho' actually I just want to finish it within the time cut-off - I've certainly forgotten about that flippin' 11 hours!!

    Hope to see you there - do keep in touch, would be great to find out how your training's going!

    All the best - Lou
  • Not sure why my smiley showed up as question marks...!
  • ken1969ken1969 Posts: 11

    Hi Lou,

    I did wonder about the question marks!  

    Definitely good to "know" someone else who's aiming for the same event - should definitely compare training notes - although I suspect my training will be a bit lighter than yours if you were contemplating an 11 hour finish!   My half iron man took me 7:20!!  I'm targeting under 15 hours but as you say, as long as I complete I'll be happy. 

    I know what you mean about needing inspiration - I've been procrastinating about signing up for a month. Found every excuse under the sun to put it off (wait til next payday), or maybe downgrade to a half iron next year (not done much training this year, would be better to build gradually etc etc) - but finally recognised them for just excuses and committed and feel much better about the whole thing.  

    Based on my previous swim/bike/run times I've set myself some sub-goals to aim for which are definitely stretch goals for me - 90 mins for the swim, 7 hours for the bike, and 5 hours for the marathon - which will be my first ever marathon!  Add in transition etc and 14 hours seems doable on paper but all of those are a stretch for me - that would be equivalent to maintaining or increasing my half iron pace on all three disciplines while doubling the distance.   

    Anyway - the biggest challenge is that I have never yet managed to keep up my training through winter - I make great gains from spring til September normally and then I let it all go to pot. So I've already signed myself up for a 5km and a 10km between now and Christmas which fit nicely into my training schedule - going to look at a few others over Jan-Feb at least to give me targets to keep me motivated over the winter months.

    At the end of the day - it's 36 weeks away - that's over 8 months! Should be plenty of time - as long as I stop procrastinating and get out there!

    Definitely stay in touch!



  • Ken,

    A former colleague of mine just did Ironman Copenhagen. He loved it. The course is flat, perhaps a little open to the wind, and the run course is through the middle of the city, multi-lap. That makes it great for spectators (bring the family, get them to park themselves outside a bar and cheer you through each lap). Only downside I heard was that there are some cobbled sections on the run, which is pretty unpleasant when you are just hanging on to the finish.


  • Hi Ken and Lou, after watching this thread, i have also decided to enter the Ultimate Triathlon in Shropshire. I was going to enter the Cotswold 226, on 23 June, however it is on my daughters 13 birthday, so I wouldn't be popular at home, so really glad you brought this event to my attention. I also have delusions of an 11 hour effort, individually I can swim in 1h 20m, cycle in 5h 30m and run in 3h 30m.... just got to do all those together, that is what my training is all about. Look forward to sharing training plans. Where will you be travelling from?

  • Just signed up, better get a plan in place for next 6 months

  • ken1969ken1969 Posts: 11

    Hi Matthew, 

    Welcome aboard!  

    Will be nice to know a few people - you can all wave to me as you lap me, again and again! :P

    I'm down in Surrey near Hampton Court so will be looking to drive up and find a nice hotel or maybe a self-catered cottage for a few days before and after - where are you?





  • Hi, I am in Salisbury, looking at the website, I think that I will camp and enjoy the pre-event atmosphere.

    For me, success is all about winter training - I want to loose 6-8kg and really focus on stamina - I have a couple of half marathons planned this autumn and will do the Coastal Marathon in February. I find that I need an event to prepare for every month to keep up the winter training

  • ken1969ken1969 Posts: 11

    Yes, definitely think that having events planned will keep my motivation up too.

  • I would also like to at least do one ironman in my life. The Ultimate would certainly be a very good option. Maybe at 56 I'm pushing it a bit!!

  • ken1969ken1969 Posts: 11

    Hi Guy,

    I don't see why you'd be pushing it at any age. Unless you have a specific health issue, if you really wanted to complete an iron distance event then with enough preparation I don't see why not? 

    I had zero athletic background before I started this crazy journey, so I took it nice and slow - built from a novice tri through every other distance year by year. I was amazed when I completed the half iron distance last year - I'd never completed any run longer than 10k when I did that - not even in training. Sure it took me over 7 hours but I wasn't last and finished with a smile on my face.

  • ken1969ken1969 Posts: 11

    Just had my first warm up event of the winter - 5km Halloween themed fun run in Richmond Park.  I finished in 35 minutes - I know that probably sounds really slow to most here but at 18 stone weight and with minimal prep I'm really pleased.

    Bottom line is that's pretty much the pace at which I did my half iron man last year with a bit of run/walk - and is what I'll be targetting for my iron man to complete the distance. Even if I didn't get any faster and just increased my endurance that would get me around the marathon run in less than 5 hours which (bike allowing as I'm pretty confident of the swim) will get me in comfortably 3 - 3 1/2 hrs under the cutoff which I would be over the moon with. 

    Based on the limited running I'd been doing I'd actually set a target of 45 mins for this 5km, so obviously that puts me a bit further along in my training than I anticipated. 

    Now signed up for a similar 10km fun in 6 weeks also at Richmond Park - basically adding 10% per week to my distances - so I will be aiming for a similar sort of pace despite doubling the distance. 

    Really excited to see I'm ahead of schedule on the run as that's my weakest spot for sure, and that puts a real spring in my step for my training.

    How's everyone else doing?

  • Oh dear, you've put a right ol' smile on my face (and a slight panicky twinge of "oh flippin' 'eck!" in my mind...!) - that's really good news, I don't think it's too bad a time at all, plus you seem to have a realistic, consistent approach and I think that counts for a heck of a lot! And you're out there DOING training!

    Nice one, sounds like you're on course for achieving your aims! I was (note the past tense) doing well-ish, something's up with the bod at the mo, lots of blood tests etc as I'm constantly tired. Seeing as I'm quite used to endurance events, I'm a tad peeved at this loss of ability! I've been doing this sort of stuff for quite a few years now, and this is the first time I've really struggled to get going and maintain training consistency. Even looked at snaffling a personal trainer, but ??50 for 30mins etc is well beyond my limits!

    Like you, I'm not so worried about the swim, I need to up my bike distance (don't think the speed's going to improve tho!). I was on track with increasing the distance by 10% each week, so I need to get back to that aim...hmmm!

    Am so impressed with your running, I think I too need to put a few running events in place to motivate m'self...

    Well done! (eurgh, sounds a bit patronising but I'm genuinely pleased for you!)

    Ttfn - Lou
  • Ha, just noticed that I'm getting my excuses in already!!
  • Ken sounds great - you clearly have a plan, with some realistic goals. As you have done a 70.3, you probably have as much idea what you are getting into as I do. If you build up stamina and continue to run at 11:45 min/mile pace  and can do that for a full marathon by June 11th, I would say that is an excellent result.

    My Training was going really well in October, my runs were getting faster, I have been running at least one 10k and doing a 5k park run every week, and setting PB's for 3 consecutive weeks. I really recommend taking part in Park Run if there is one near you, a bit of competition will see your 5k times come down nicely over the winter

    Unfortunately I hit a setback on Friday last week, I have developed Matatarsalgia on my left foot - went for an xray today to check whether it is a stress fracture or just inflammation / trapped nerve, will get results later this week.

    I can still ride, and the hated Turbo Trainer is seeing regular action - mainly doing 45minute Tempo sessions. After a summer avoiding the pool, I am now attending Tri Club training sessions twice per week, typically swimming 2500 - 3000m per session, with a combination of technique drills, speed work and a 1500m main set. Looking to do a 1h20m 3.8 km swim for the IM, I can do that today, but I want to be much more efficient and lose less energy

    My other plan is to loose 6kg by Christmas, business trips to the US, Switzerland and Spain will make it hard to achieve

  • Just a quickie as am at work - but I was thinking about all this last night. I remembered that what was a real help to me as I trained for the 70.3 last year was doing a short run straight off the bike: so I would cycle 56 miles, then run for around 15-20 mins. Not a fast run, more like a jog - but this made a huge difference to my run in the event. I don't know if it was just a placebo effect or summat, but I know it helped settle me in the actual event.

    Best get back to the grindstone! Ttfn - Lou
  • Just for fun - a couple of pics of me from my 5km Halloween fun run last month.

    Up to 9km in my training runs now, still slow as heck and run/walking at around 8:30 per km but I've managed to gradually increase my speed while upping my distance 10% per week.  Got a 10km "Santa Dash" fun run at Richmond in two weeks time and really happy with my progress. Definitely having these events to aim for has kept me on track with training. More silly pics of me in my Santa Suit to follow. How's everyone else's training going?





  • Hi Ken

    My Training is back on schedule after a slight injury in late October. Ran a half Marathon in the New Forest on Sunday, it was really hilly, so I was delighted with my time of 1h40m. This weekend was a big training weekend - I swam almost 6km, cycled 50 miles and ran 13.1 miles

    I am feeling reasonably good today with no bad aches or pains

    I have a big milestone coming up on December 18th when I run my first ever Marathon (Portsmouth). I am feeling much more confident after this weekend.

  • Fab pics, Father Chrimbo aka Ken! You aways make me smile!

    Great to hear about your training, you deserve to feel happy with your progress!

    Booked my accommodation for the event, that's put my mind at rest a bit still keeping up with the 50-60 mile cycles tho' the weather's been grim lately and my poor bike's been in cycle-hospital a lot of late, hate having to turn to my turbo-trainer instead but it has its use! Ok(ish) with my cycle times though! Also been in the gym working on my strength.

    My running's the worry, currently. Have 10k & 18 miler coming up in March, but my times are so much slower than even last year. Will keep on plodding...!

    Been swimming a lot - around 25k per week, 5-8k sessions. Doing lots of endurance sessions as I have more marathon swims planned in 2017, also it helps with my ironman confidence as I know it's something I DON'T have to worry about for once!

    I'm using a few training plans from a 220 rival mag, they're based on 12 weeks (obviously one needs to have a tri foundation already in place for these ones) - finding these plans really eased my mind...slowly slowly, catchy monkey etc. Feel like i'm on course anyway! I've used their plans for sprint/olympic and the 70.3, and they're quite confidence-boosting and helpful.

    What I definitely need help with is nutrition - really not good at taking on fluids and food as it all comes back up (yum!). So will be thinking & experimenting with that aspect in the next few weeks too!

    On that lovely note - good on yer, Ken, and ta for keeping in touch! Keep up the good work!

    Ttfn - Lou

    Ken and Lou, great to hear from you both. Ken, you are doing really well, and the pictures are great!

    Lou, don't worry about your run times. I was in the same position in August and early September, then suddenly my times improved almost overnight. What I do find is essential in half marathons, and I hope is the same for full Marathons, is nutrition: I start with an energy gell 15 minutes before the start, I then take a  gell at 6k another at 11k and one at 16k, this keeps my energy up enough to maintain a constant pace, i overtake loads of people in the last 5k. I don't always take water at the stations, yesterday, at the second station 9k in, I had water and it gave me stomach cramp, which slowed me down for a mile or so, I didn't take any water after that. For me, if my heart rate is above 165, I know that taking water is not a good idea, strangely I can take a gell though

    keep up the training, it doesn't matter how fast or slow you are, you will have won so long as you are fit enough on June 11 to achieve your personal targets (no target is easy when it comes to IM distance)

  • Just did my first Marathon, Portsmouth Coastal Marathon, completed in 3h 30m 10s

    Reall happy with the result as it was a tough multi terrain marathon



  • Cotswold 226. Lovely lake swim, nice 2 lap bike ride and flat run. Small and friendly and lovely setting. Not dissimilar in feel to the Monster Middle, not a huge number of entrants so swim is very calm, and with the new format allowing friends and family to do sportive cycle ride on the same course less lonely than it was in the past and your support crew have something to do!

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