by Eddie Butt
“I’ve just taken part in one of the most gruelling races ever in Ireland and I’ve finished”
IM Ireland started 12months ago for me when I registered for the race , I knew back then it was going to be a difficult race based on the Irish climate and the Irish roads , I spent those 12months working on swim technique and power for the bike and quality run sessions that had a purpose, that brought me up to 22nd of June, the day before the race, we were told at the race briefing that the swim course would be adjusted as it wasn’t safe to leave athletes in the water for the whole 4k swim, when I heard this I immediately check the weather app , (I wish I hadn’t).
June 23rd 04:30 – morning of the race, I walked from the athlete parking area to the swim start with 5 or 6 different layers of clothes and an umbrella, got to swim start and I knew the minute I saw the water there was no way that this swim was going ahead.
I remember Matthew Cunningham an athlete from Britain who was racking with me saying what do you think and I replied “I wouldn’t put my mother in-law out in that” sorry Betty!! With that, the announcement was made to cancel the swim, I saw a lot of bikes being removed from transition at this point, so the next Qs was what’s going to happen now…..
Ironman opted for the Time Trial start, first lot of bikes got away around 07:30 but a lot of athletes had to wait around until 09:00 before they started, everyone was extremely cold not to mention soaked right through as the rain kept falling, when I started riding I kept thinking ‘keep going kid you’ll heat up soon’ but this never happened even going through Ballymacoda, Garryvoe, Cloyne & Middleton I still hadn’t warmed up, by the time I came back around to Youghal for the 1st time I knew I was half way around the bike course and I knew Windmill Hill (Windmill Hell) was coming!
I was looking forward to this part of the course so much as I had dreamed that it would be lined with spectators all shaking cow bells, Well all my dreams came through all I can say is ‘EPIC’ , the screams were so load that they were drowning out the pain was meant to be feeling, this experience will live with me for a long time!
On the 2nd 90k loop of the bike I had a mechanical which was just unlucky but managed as best I could, and got back to windmill hill for the 2nd time to relive the experience again, when I got into T2 I was suffering from Hyperthermia , I was shaking uncontrollably and a bit delirious and looking for more clothes to put on but knowing i didn’t have! Arthur McCarthy was marshalling in the tent and I muttered something stupid at him and he told to get out and start running, which I did, the 1st mile of the run was absolute torture, into a head wind getting battered with buckets of rain and then a climb to the light house I remember thinking to myself “this was meant to be fun” it was far from fun , I saw my family at 2mile and Deirdre knew something was up as I tried to say something to her but just waffled because of the hyperthermia, saw my family again at 4mile it was at this point where I finally started to feel the thaw and was able to talk again and I threw my jacket at them which must have weighted about 5kgs and told them “I was fine now” I did start to enjoy the race from this point on and why wouldn’t I with the support from the locals and of course the huge CTC gang all out in style, it was only until 20mile where I got into trouble as quads were starting to let me know that they were under pressure and how timely but the hamstrings also were letting me know that they could scream too, I did stop at that point as my family were there at 20mile, I only stopped for a stretch but Deirdre being Deirdre said pretty convincingly ‘what are you doing , keep running’ so that was that I got going again, as I was running down the finishing chute I saw all my friends and family and the CTC gang, I taught to myself “I’ve just taken part in one of the most gruelling races ever in Ireland and I’ve finished”