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World Champs, International Acclaim and Brutal Competition

30 Sept 2023

World Championships, Invictus Games and Extreme Ironman

This year has seen some impressive results from WTC, however September has been amonth to beat them all.

In this edition:

  • Colin Wood and his Ironman World Championships

  • Bob Grantham and the Invictus Games

  • Conor Rourke and The Brutal Triathlon

There's a separate post for the rest of September.

Colin Wood - Ironman World Championships

Our very own Colin Wood qualified for this year's Ironman World Championships in Nice! Qualification is reserved for the best Ironman competitors in the world. We all know Colin's an absolute machine, knocking out Ironman races for fun so it was no surprise when we heard about his inclusion in the sport's pinacle event for age groupers. Colin's race report is below.

"Thanks for all you IM support! I went out for an aclimatasation dip in the sea the afternoon before and put a rip about 30cm in the backside of my wetsuit. Spent about 2 hours botching a repair with needle and cotton, along with a bit of inner tube and black witch neoprene repair. In the morning I headed to the start at 6am wondering why nobody had a wetsuit with them. Then heard the sea temp had risen and wetsuits weren't allowed. Previous events this may have caused concern, but I was quite chilled. I had to queue 40mins! for the loo, and just about made it in time for my wave, which was the final one. I felt my swim was smooth and went well. In reality it was probably a bit too leisurely and slower than normal. At least I didn't feel like too much energy had been expended. The ride was amazing, in the beautiful mountains. I overtook hundreds on the ascent, which went on for about 60k. I loved it, and could have kept going. It didn't have many very steep sections, but just kept rising gradually. The descent was a bit hairy, and required a lot of concentration, but I continued to overtake quite a lot of riders. I started strong on the run, and was soon feeling the heat. The support over the marathon was excellent, and pushed me to keep on going. I slowed a bit, but kept a reasonable pace considering the heat. I had been expecting to finish well down the rankings, due to the quality of athletes competing, so am thrilled to have made it into the top half overall and just outside top third for age group. My support team of Jules and Roger have done a Stirling job! Bike maintenance, cheering on course, giving updates and providing finishing champagne most important jobs. Just off for a dip in the sea and then a spin down the coast on our bikes to loosen the legs and enjoy our last day on the Cote D'Azure before heading home tomorrow. When I first had the offer of a World Champs slot, I was in two minds whether to take it on. Whilst WTC is about achieving individual goals, and enjoying the comarradary, and sport, I was inspired by WTC, to sign up, and expose the club on the world stage. This one was for all of us. Love you all 💙"

Bob Grantham - Invictus Games

Bob represented Team UK in the Invictus Games this year taking part in the Indoor Rowing, Swimming and Cycling events. Bob having never rowed before, came into the indoor rowing with no great expectations, and indeed he seemed to take the commentators by surprise, finishing his heat in a very close 2nd place. Bob was sitting pretty for a while, however the last heat saw two competitors go slightly further, pushing Bob just out of the medals.

Next came the swimming. Again Bob had no expectations of making the final given the strength of the field, however he put in a superb swim in the 100m Freestyle not only earning himself a place in the final, but also finishing just outside the medals in 4th place with a massive PB.

Bob in lane 8 in his 100m Freestyle heat

Bob's last challenge was his strongest discipline, the bike. This started with the time trial and he put in an immense effort to earn top spot with just 3 competitors to go. Unfortunately for Bob, two of those went faster but this did mean a superb bronze medal and a cheeky hug from the Duchess of Sussex during the medal presentation.

The last race was the Criterium, a group ride where anything can (and does) happen. An early breakaway saw Bob in the lead group with some of the strongest riders from the time trial - 3 Brits, an Aussie and a Frenchman. By this point the commentators knew Bob was a contender and he wasn't going to dissapoint. With just two laps to go, the Aussie came off his bike and a lap later, one of the Brits was dropped. We knew it woould be a medal for Bob, but which colour? The power of the Frenchman was immense, and only Bob's power came close. Bob earned himself an impressive silver medal.

Well Done Bob!!!!

Conor Rourke - Extreme Ironman

Before I joined WTC, I thought triathletes were incredible fit super humans. Coming from a competitive rowing background, you had to be super fit to do a triathlon surely? Well it turns out, the answer is no. Triathlon is for everyone.

However, now I look at some of the events in triathlon and struggle to comprehend how far it can go... Super sprint, Sprint, Olympic, Half Iron, Ironman... Extreme Ironman!!!

WTC member and coach, Conor Rourke has become Wallingford's second ever Extreme Ironman having taken on The Brutal Triathlon.

This extreme ironman event in North Wales starts flat (in the cold lakes of Llyn Padran in Llanberis) but that's where the flat ends. The 180km bike involves 4 hilly laps with a total of 2,300m elevation, each time taking on Pen y Pass before the marathon run, which involves over 1400m of elevation, including taking on the summit of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon).

Conor completed his extreme ironman in 18 hours 15 minutes; an impressive feat for the fittest of triathletes. Chapeau Conor!

"Good morning/afternoon guys!

Thank you all so much for the well wishes and kings messages. Yesterday was tough going. Swim went as planned, slow & steady but a distance pb. The bike…started great but as soon as that sun came out, it gradually took it out of me. The discomfort by the final lap, in particularly my arse & shoulders (should have probably had that bike fitting) almost brought me to tears. Couldn’t have been happier to get onto the run and took advantage of long transitions to fuel up properly. The 5 mile loops went well. Accent of Snowdonia was a drag, no fuel stops so ran out of water pretty quick. To be sure if making cut off I had to run down, headtorch soon died which made things a little more fun!

Really appreciate all the support guys. I’d like you all to know that WTC has to take some of the blame for what I went through yesterday 😂 we’ve a group of really inspiring athletes and people in here and I wouldn’t have ever ventured into the world of triathlon without you guys."

Conor about to start the marathon section of his extreme ironman

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