Out on a limb

Disaster for Brunt as a Ford Transit van scuppers his IM Florida race.

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This should have been the blog where I told you about my fantastic performance at Ironman Florida. It should have been the one about how all my training came together on the day to see me smash my PB and stroll over the finish line in 10 hours. Unfortunately, I didn’t even stroll over the start line…
 
A week before the race I went out on my final ride before packing my bike away. I was pedaling serenely along when I heard an engine fast approaching from behind. What happened next is a bit of a blur but I remember a terrific impact that shot me forward like I’d been fired out of a cannon. The next thing I remember was sliding gracefully down the road on my face before coming to a halt head first in a gutter. The only other thing I recall was the same engine revving frantically and then speeding off up the road.

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To cut a long story short I was the victim of a hit and run incident that involved my back wheel, a blue Ford Transit and an utter b****d. The crash left me with a gashed face, skinned hips, multiple cuts and bruises, a sprained wrist, a fractured elbow and a shattered dream as I watched my Ironman go up in a puff of gravel.

Even now, two weeks on, it’s hard to put into words how I felt when the doctors told me my arm was broken. Even though I couldn’t move it, even though they’d had to drain a syringe-full of blood from the joint to reduce the swelling, and even though I was so cross-eyed with pain I could actually fancy Dannii Minogue, I was clinging to the hope that I could still make the race. When they told me I’d be out of the game for six weeks, I did what any dignified, self-respecting adult would do – cried.

After a decent period of self-pity I reported the incident to the police. It might be a sign of my age, but the policeman who took my statement was so young I expected him to write his report in alphabet spaghetti. When I left I nearly broke my other arm tripping over his umbilical cord. Unfortunately without a registration number, which I didn’t get due to having my face jammed into a kerb, we’re down to studying CCTV of the area to see if a blue Transit pops up anywhere. I hope it turns up soon because the machine gun I’ve hired for when I find the driver is costing me a fortune. Failing that I plan to pack his suitcase with bibles and send him to Somalia.

I decided to go to Florida anyway as the trip was paid for, and because it’s not Coventry, so at least I got to spend some time lounging around in the sun drinking beer. It was a bittersweet trip for me, with the real high of seeing my friends complete the Ironman, with the real low of being left standing on the beach when the gun went and everyone started the race. I did my best to be cheerful, but mostly I was self-absorbed and miserable. Watching races when you are injured is crap – even in a place as nice as Florida. However, I did my best to feel good by drinking loads of beer at the pre-race meal surrounded by abstaining triathletes.

I must admit that I was genuinely overjoyed to see my friends Phil Richmond and Joe Reynolds finish their first Ironmans, and Steve Howes romp home in 9.57 – at least now I can say I got to a finish line before Steve.

So the long road to recovery starts here. It will be between six weeks and three months before I’m fully fit but as the doctors, police and loved-ones have all reminded me, joking apart, I’m lucky to be alive and the crash could – and should – have been a lot, lot worse. To help me while away the hours until I can start training again Nicky has presented me with a to-do list that’s longer than a Leonard Cohen song, and I’ve taken steps to make sure I make the most of the eight lives I’ve got left by entering Ironman Florida 2010 – as the saying goes, pain heals, girls dig scars, glory lasts forever.

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Tune in next time for an update on my recovery, tips on repairing bent forks, and the top ten places you could hide a van drivers body.