The Weekend Warrior on… the madness of triathletes

220 columnist Martyn Brunt finds a common theme to many of the athletes he meets at Ironman Lanzarote – nuttiness

Martyn Brunt caricature

One of the best things about tri is the spectacular range of nutters you encounter. The array of obsessive adrenaline junkies it attracts makes it the sporting equivalent of the acute ward in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. And in comparison all other sports look about as exciting as buying a Twix at Newport Pagnell services.

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I had this confirmed in spades upon my recent return to Lanzarote and its horrible version of Ironman. This year’s was another hot, windy suffer-fest and it will go down as one of the most memorable races I’ve done. Not because of my own performance which, while being my fastest yet on that course, confirmed my status as a shiftless, happy-go-lucky timewaster, but because of the ranks of complete nutjobs I encountered. Here are just some of them:

Andy Golden, who spent 12 hours before the race unable to stray more than five metres from a toilet, but started the race anyway and made it to the first buoy before vomiting twice, being fished out by a jet ski and deposited back on the beach, by which time he’d already negotiated a free entry to next year’s race.

Joe Reynolds, who celebrated his 65th birthday by filling 90% of his lungs with Atlantic sea water before being carted off to hospital. His subsequent attempts to get re-entered into next year’s race were hampered by having a voice that sounded like a waterlogged Darth Vader.

Tom Oldham, whose debut IM ended with a broken pelvis following a bike crash on the ‘donkey track’, but who was already plotting his return next year while on traction in his hospital bed.

Steve Bottomley, who learned nothing from Tom’s experience and maintained his reputation for having the bike-handling skills of Abu Hamza by cycling headfirst into a drainage ditch and spending the rest of the race stinking like actual donkey.

Corinna O’Connor, who was unable to do any running at all in her race build-up after a serious back injury, but who spotted boyfriend Steve not far ahead so ran the marathon anyway, considering irrevocable spinal damage a small price to pay for the opportunity of passing him.

Grant Hume, who was busted for drafting while doing 3mph up Mirador Del Rio, but who shrugged it off with a massive fry up.

Anyone who survived that bloody road from Nazaret without having the fillings shaken out of their teeth, or who got past Famara beach without inhaling a sandy mist equivalent to 50 fags a day.

Everyone from City of Lancaster Tri (COLT) who took SIXTY people to the race, most of whom were still out on the pop at 2am the day after the race! 

Neill Morgan, who finished the race over two hours inside the cut-off despite having to walk the entire marathon on medical orders due to his impending gender reassignment surgery in a bid to become Wales’ first Eurovision winner.

Paul Hastings, who trashed decades of medical evidence by adding chain-smoking to the list of pre-race preparation if you want to achieve a fast bike split.

Julie Cliffe-Jones, who waited over 20 minutes in T2 for husband Mike so they could run out together, only to sod off up the road and leave him behind less than 50m after they set off.

Dave Fenton, who had agreed to do the 335-mile three-day Tour of Wessex without realising it was just six days after the Ironman.

Tony Nutt, who missed the cut-off by four minutes after stopping in a café for something to eat out on the bike course, thus providing me with an entire chapter for my next book.

Aaron Whitehead, who spent his debut Ironman with the song ‘Tequila’ going round and round in his head after I planted it there just before the start, ha ha ha! 

Any spectator stationed between run miles 20 and 26, where most British competitors seemed to be using the f-word like a comma.

Keith Edwards, who spent most of his time in the post-race food tent worrying about whether the race may have “taken a bit much out of him” for his Challenge Atlantic City race in June.

Me, for doing this race three bloody times to the considerable annoyance of Nicky. Very few things upset my wife, so I consider myself rather special to be one of them.

Everyone who paraded their ‘Finisher’ T-shirts up and down the strip at Puerto Del Carmen the following day.

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I salute you all.