Stuart and Cathy Dudfield have successfully completed Ironman UK (you may have followed them on social media). To say successfully is an understatement as they both excelled individually. Their training this year has been comprehensive with several requisite 100 mile bike rides, many hours in the water and quality distance running; some running was logged immediately after their cycle rides and Stuart had even been running home after a ‘hard’ shift at work. Thankfully, their training didn’t take a negative toll on their bodies as they avoided injuries and just got stronger and stronger.
Ironman UK 2018 will be most remembered for the heatwave and the fires over Lancashire. Saddleworth Moor became the “inferno on the hills” as the blaze was dubbed as the biggest in living memory. However, with respect, the focus was on the Dudfields. Due to the blue-green algae bloom in Pennnington Flash lake, there was speculation that the swim would be taken out of the race, then due to the fire becoming out of control, the whole event was threatened. Finally, just a few days before the race, the anxious organizers confirmed that the event would go ahead with a reduced cycle course by 17 miles due to the wildfire. Therefore, the race consisted of a 2.4 mile swim, 95 mile cycle and a marathon. Realistically, this meant an hour less cycling but the course incorporated a ‘new’ climbing section to stretch the athletes as they travelled the West Pennine Moors, past Rivington reservoirs and encircled Chorley.
The pair also took the opportunity to raise money for charity. With a target of £500 for the club’s ‘charity of the Year’ CLAPA, the pair raised over 3 times that figure – at the time of writing £1,650 though with gift aid and donations still being made, that total could be around £2k
Back to the racing: so many things can go wrong in a race lasting from dawn to dusk; in the swim, you could take a blow to the head, goggles could fail or cramp could set in. Thankfully both Tewkesbury competitors completed the 2 lap swim as predicted. Once out of their wetsuits, the pair had the task of the cycle for the next few hours. Stuart was away first after swimming for 1:25 hr while Cathy was solid after a 1:40 hr swim. Stuart’s strongest discipline would be the bike though it’s a separate task to not get carried away and work too hard leaving little energy for the marathon. His 5:27 hrs effort for the 95 miles left him with the ability to run a 4:21 hrs marathon and finish the race in 11:26 hrs to claim 462nd place. A fabulous achievement given that most mere mortals consider running a marathon a ‘lifetime achievement’.
Cycling for such a long distance can have many downfalls with punctures, mechanical failures and for several competitors, an accident by either going off the road or a collision. Cathy had good luck and rode impressively for 6:11 hrs. She then run a 5 hour marathon and without the cycling breeze to keep cool, that goes down as a very good run in the heatwave. Her finish time of 13:12 hrs placed her 1,168th and 122nd woman. Note that Stuart finished 56th in his M45-49 age category while Cathy was 13th in her F45-49.