N1 Tri Club members compete in Welsh Ironman meeting

PUBLISHED: 08:13 13 September 2017

The Legend of Triathlon, Chrissie Wellington, multi-times World Champion, greets our own ‘legend’ 70-year-old Vanessa Glynn Jones ‘Ironman’ racer who will be representing GB in Rotterdam at the weekend.

The Legend of Triathlon, Chrissie Wellington, multi-times World Champion, greets our own ‘legend’ 70-year-old Vanessa Glynn Jones ‘Ironman’ racer who will be representing GB in Rotterdam at the weekend.

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An Ironman race is broadly recognised as one of the ultimate endurance events in the world. It comprises of a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride and finally a 26.2-mile marathon run.

Anyone who gets to the start line of an Ironman race will have dedicated many hours to training and preparing their body and their mind for the challenge ahead. Once the start gun goes, however, all bets are off. Getting round the course within the stated time limits is a huge achievement for anyone, from the fully professional racers at the front of the race to the many first-timers lower down the finishing order.

East Devon’s N1 Tri Club has members from all over the area who enjoy the wonderful local facilities. It has gained a reputation for producing Ironman racers, or Ironwomen, if you prefer. In the last five years, on no less than 45 times athletes from the club have achieved the feat.

The Ironman Tenby Course is just stunning in its natural beauty and the local population support it with passion. The streets are mobbed and, as is the custom in all Ironman races, a wonderful relationship develops between the spectators and racers, with those watching willing the athletes to the finish line. The run course in Tenby weaves though its delightful streets on its four circuits that make up the total distance. All Ironman racers will attest to the extreme emotional and mental experience the race brings. Each racer carries a number which has his or her name on it, a flag of country of origin and the racer’s age. The support is therefore personal. Go on Catherine, Go on John etc.

The Tenby course is way more hilly than most courses on the bike and whilst nearly every other Ironman run course is flat, this one definitely is not. When the wind blows and the rain falls it is a ‘beast’. Last Sunday the elements did their worst and the race was described as the ‘Toughest Ironman Wales of them all’.

Around 25 members of the N1 Tri Club had made the journey to Tenby along with their club mascot ‘IronTed’ and their newly formed ‘drumming band’. They were there to support two of the club’s top athletes.

Catherine Hilton is a superb all-round athlete. She has had the honour of representing GB in her age group and - perhaps best of all - she qualified a few years ago to race in the Mecca of triathlon races the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. She is a pharmacist by profession and passionate supporter of the Exeter Chiefs, where she will often be seen sporting a headdress of feathers. To give some idea of just how able she is, cyclists will appreciate a recent cycle time trial she did in which she covered 25 miles in under an hour. That this was whilst in full IM training gives some idea of her ability. On Sunday, she completed the course in 13 hours 26 minutes. Catherine was a magnificent 4th in her age group and she thrilled all her supporters by demonstrating her steely resolve when the going got really tough on the run stage. Indeed, at one point Catherine was violently sick, but she persevered and her prize was the blissful experience of crossing the finish line in front of thousands of cheering supporters.

John Lynch is a former officer in the Royal Marines, which probably says it all. He is a superb athlete and incredibly Ironman Wales was John’s second race of the summer, as he completed Ironman UK in Bolton a month or so ago. Whatever happens at Lympstone or equivalent we will never know, but John’s performance on Sunday was quite incredible. It is one thing to complete an Ironman but to do so with such style and ‘attitude’ (in the most positive sense) is an incredible thing to watch. John moved round the course waving to supporters and adoring fans alike - it is easy to see why he attracts attention. John completed the course in 11 hours 58 minutes - a superb performance.

At the end of the race all racers are cared for by the superb ‘Ironman’ organisation. Massage, medical, and catering of all sorts are available. However, both Catherine and John’s instincts were to leave the sanctuary of the recovery marquee and thank their club mates and supporters.

Attention in the club will now be focussed on the weekend where Vanessa Glyn Jones, who is an inspiration to all who know her, will be racing in Rotterdam, representing Great Britain in the World Championships. She will be competing in the standard distance event, which is 1500km swimming, 40km cycling and 10km running. Vanessa will be doing this only four weeks after completing her own Ironman Race in Copenhagen, Denmark. It is probably worth noting at this stage that Vanessa is 70 years.

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