Athletes of all abilities are pushing new boundaries in endurance racing although a fresh test has emerged which is arguably one of the hardest in Western Europe. The series of four UK and Ireland Ironman branded races is proving to be the ultimate challenge for some competitors next season. This will see athletes attempt an amazing two full distance and two 70.3 races between June and September next year.
Charlie Stannett from Suffolk is a multiple time Ironman UK finisher and along with his wife Kate, is setting himself this ultimate goal in 2012, he said: “As ‘Repeat Offenders’ Kate and I had already entered Wimbleball and Bolton for 2012. As for Tenby I have a 2011 DNF to put right and Kate has a DNS to put right as she reluctantly withdrew from Tenby to focus on Kona. That meant we were already looking at the three UK events when, after an evening drinking too much wine, we spotted that Galway was also a possibility.”
This is no easy feat as it will require an exceptional effort to complete over 420 miles of racing inside three months. A number of athletes, like Charlie, have already put their names forward for the challenge and Ironman have responded to the idea enthusiastically. The UK organising team have agreed to provide some extra reward for athletes who are attempting the extremely difficult task.
Dan James, Operations Director for IRONMAN UK, explains: “After launching the Ironman Ireland and Ironman Wales events last year some people started to talk about the ultimate test of completing our four races in one season. We thought this was incredibly hard but knew we had to recognise the achievement if someone could succeed in finishing all four in the same year.”
As a result athletes embarking upon the ‘ultimate’ will receive special race numbers and a commemorative package including t-shirt, jacket and a unique medal as part of a special awards ceremony. A ‘Wall of Fame’ will also be created online to honour the success of those who can overcome the odds to finish all four races in the same season.
Charlie Stannett continued: “Kate and I love endurance stuff – the longer the better – and are both really looking forward to it. For my part I’ve got a few butterflies in the stomach but nothing that I can’t handle. I reckon it should be an interesting if slow experience and importantly for me at the back, a real giggle!”
The series of races involved in the ultimate Ironman test includes:
Ironman 70.3 UK: 17 June 2012
Ironman UK: 22 July 2012
Ironman 70.3 Ireland: 2 September 2012
Ironman Wales: 16 September 2012
Dan James said “We will discount the entry fee for the fourth and final race for people completing the series. They will need help to motivate themselves during this unique journey and we will do all we can to help them through what will be an extraordinary accomplishment.”