Hospice Ironman is a first…

28 August 2012

Ex-Army and Falklands veteran Paul Clarke has become the first individual to take part and complete the gruelling 'Ironman UK' event in support of the Hospice raising £1136 in the process.

Paul Clarke Iron Man

Pulse check - Nurses give Paul a quick check up during a recent visit

The biggest event of its kind

As well as being a first for the Hospice, this was also a first for Paul. He recalls, "There were around 2,000 competitors from all over the world.  It is the biggest event of its kind in the UK and it was local, beginning with a swim in Pennington Flash, followed by over 100 miles on a bike and finishing with a 26 mile marathon run.  I had never done it before.  I swim, ride my bike and have run a part marathon, but never a full on nor all three on the same day!

Pennington Flash wake up call

My chauffer and back-up (my wife Barbara) got me up at 3.30am on the fateful day of 22nd July.  She drove me to Pennington Flash for 5.15am where hundreds of other entrants were already set to go.  There was a terrific atmosphere.

Jumping in the very cold 'Pennington Flash' soon woke me up and off we set.  It was manic and impossible to disentangle from the mele of thrashing bodies.

3.8 kilometres of swimming later, was the start of my 112 mile, seven and a half hour bike ride.  It was daunting but a very large crowd along 80% of the route was inspirational.

It was somewhere on this point that I remembered that no mobiles phones are allowed and if anything happened I was all alone and couldn't get outside help.

Fortunately the ride went without major incident during the 3 laps of 33 miles each around Rivington, Croston, Leyland and Chorley.  They make sure you don't cheat because you are given a different armband for each lap.

A challenging day

I had never done a full marathon before and I admit that getting towards the end of a long day was challenging, but the amazingly massive crowd at the finish at BoltonTown Hall was uplifting, thrilling and an altogether amazing experience.

Paul Clarke - Iron Man 2

Almost there - Paul approaching the finish

I cannot describe the feeling of seeing myself on the giant screen outside the Town Hall.  The 20 hour epic meant that I couldn't speak, had burned 7,500 calories, lost half a stone and was exhausted and suffering from severe stomach cramps, aching limbs and tortuous aches and pains - but I thought to myself, "You are now and IRONMAN!"

Life changing experience

It was a life-changing experience: a fantastic feeling.  The seven months intensive training was worthwhile.  I'm delighted to have raised so much money for a fantastic organisation, knowing that people who are on a much more difficult journey than me will benefit."

Read the previous article - Wife surprised by IRON MAN birthday request!

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