Kathleen had promised to be waiting for him at the finish line of the Ironman event, showing her support as she always did, both throughout his life and whenever he was competing. In return, Nick promised that at this event, he wouldn’t push himself physically to the point of being unable to stand as he usually did – something that his mum dreaded, saying: “don’t race, just go and enjoy it”!
But Kathleen died just a week after her pancreatic cancer diagnosis, leaving the family heartbroken and devastated.
The Ironman event in Staffordshire on 10 June consisted of a 1.2mile swim in Chasewater reservoir, followed by a 56-mile bike course and a half marathon run.
Nick let us know how the day went, saying: “I can honestly say that mum was never off my mind. I thought about her every stroke, every pedal and every step.”
His report on the day is below.
Before the race I was extremely nervous. I’d had a bad training session 3 weeks earlier which made me question if I could complete the challenge ahead. It had been a really hot day on the bike and my body just shut down on the run and I could go no further, which is something I’d never experienced to this degree, and the race day itself was forecast to be red hot. I was really worried that this could happen again. Plus the 7am rolling start time was delayed because it was foggy and impossible to see markers in lake, which didn’t help. But mostly I was nervous and emotional because this time I was doing it for mum, and so many people had donated to my fundraising, I didn’t want to let anyone down.
There wasn’t only myself from the Ribble Valley Triathlon Club but also Spike Taylor, Simon Moore, Suzanne Sumner, Daniel Hosker and Bob Wilkinson waiting for what lay ahead.
I’d adjusted my target time to take account of the weather forecast, but finished the swim ahead of plan, feeling good. In the cycle leg, my rear water bottle fell off early on, and I made the conscious decision to go back for it because I didn’t want to become dehydrated later in the midday heat. That turned out to be a good decision. In the last 10 miles of the cycle leg the sun came out properly and by the time I was running, it was red hot.
The race was going well and I kept hydrated and felt strong. Then in the final lap before the finish, two corners from the finish line, both my legs cramped up. Normally I’d have forced myself to carry on, exhausting every last ounce of energy to cross the finish line, but as this was in memory of my Mum and seeing me in this state was something she used to dread, I knew I couldn’t let this happen again. It was typical that this happened right In front of friend Phil Sumner who had helped, as many had from the Ribble Valley Triathlon Club, throughout training and he was trying to persuade me to carry on. I was adamant that I had to run to the finish, as I’d promised, in good shape, so took the time to stretch it out and forget about race times. The cramp eased, then I crossed the finish line, with my dad Tom, brother Steven, girlfriend Heather and friends waiting for me at the finish.
Despite the nerves, the delays and the heat, I completed in 5hrs 34m, smashing my target time of 6hrs 15mins. The 1.2 mile swim split was 43 minutes, I averaged 19.4mph on the 56 mile bike leg, and finished the half marathon in 1hr 45m which was very rewarding for the months and months of training that had gone into preparing for this challenge !
As the line approached I looked up at the skies knowing I’d kept my side of the promise. Just hope Mum was keeping hers and was looking down feeling extremely proud. Sweet dreams Mum, you can rest now xxx