Chris Swaby completes his first Ironman

The first question most people ask is what does becoming an Ironman involve… The answer is a lot of dedicated training over a 6-9 month period to enable you to complete a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile marathon to finish!

The second question is usually then Why?? The truth is my competitive nature came to a head after watching a mate from school compete in 2013. Watching someone I actually knew, who was my age and had previously had major knee surgery well and truly inspired me to get involved. It took a couple of years for me to take it seriously as football was my primary sport, but having built up the distance and watched the event again in 2015, my decision was made.

I signed up in September 2015 whilst on holiday in Turkey, no it wasn’t after a few chilled beers in the sun, I had my alarm set to make sure I entered when registration opened, believe it or not, the 2000+ places get snapped up pretty quickly.

I have committed myself to 6 months of serious training, which on average involved training between 6-9 times per week, this includes a day of rest too and therefore requires early morning training before a long day at work then back home to get out on the bike or run again. People say that you will go through stages where you won’t enjoy training, not for me, I loved every minute of it, well almost. Of course, the early mornings are tough, particularly on those cold, dark and wet winter months but to get up to do something you want to do is much easier than you think. The long training weekends as the training steps up into the peak phase are the tough ones, more so on my partner Rachelle, who I would like to thank for her support and patience throughout along with other family and friends who supported me and came to watch during other events leading up to this one. It is not only the training you commit to, it’s the lifestyle.

July 17th 2016 – The day starts by getting up at 3am for breakfast and heading over to Pennington Flash in Leigh for 4.30am to check your bike and get ready for a 6am open water swim start. It may sound strange but I kind of wish the swim was longer as this is my strong point, but in 1 hour and 6 minutes I was out of the water and onto the bike for the 112 miles ride around the North West. What a relief to get off the bike after spending 6 hours 48 minutes sat in the saddle, but no time to rest, onto the marathon. The run involved a 3 loop circuit of Bolton town centre, just down the road from where I live, which allowed family and friends to gather amongst hundreds if not thousands of other spectators to create a fantastic atmosphere, which clearly carries you through the long run with such great support. The finish, as you can imagine, is a mixture of emotions, relief, pride and absolute satisfaction and I am not ashamed to say that seeing those closest to you definitely brings a tear to your eye.

Added to my self-satisfaction of what I had achieved was the fact that I did all of this for two selected charities, Stroke Association which I am sure everyone can relate to in some form and Cardiac Risk in the Young selected having lost a friend last year whilst playing 5-a-side. I wanted to help raise the awareness of young people having heart defects and to use the facilities of this amazing charity to get a screening covered by the money raised by the charity. I have so far raised almost £1,500 and would like to make a final push before the end of the year to get this to £2,000 in total.

What a great day to be remembered for the rest of my life, until the next one!