Sian’s Mighty Ironman Challenge

Sian may well be fit and healthy, and our in-house health guru, but this challenge is huge!

On Sunday 15th July she will be undertaking one of the toughest challenges known to man (and woman) all in aid of Heartbeat!

Sian’s Story

“This year I have decided to take on the Ironman Bolton course

Sian Ironman 2

I know that for some of you reading you’ll think … “Well Siân is fit, she exercises all the time, that’s not much of a challenge” so I wanted to just break it down as to exactly what I will be taking on this year, 15th July 2018.

Part 1

The Ironman starts off with a 2.4-mile swim (2 laps) of Pennington Flash (Leigh) at about 6am, this is an open water swim with hundreds of other competitors who all want to get in front of you, a torrent of kicking feet and punching hands, plus waves.

Ironman 1

There is no wall to turn off like a pool; you cannot touch the bottom; you can hardly see in front of you; its cold; “things” touch your feet and for that split second you think it is the Loch Ness monster on holiday trying to pull you under the water and then you remember its probably a reed or a fish (which is still terrifying).

You kick and swim, as steadily but fast as you can, looking up every couple of strokes to make sure you’re not about to swim into another person and to navigate yourself around the course (twice). Trying to lift your head and mouth up high enough so that you don’t drink any of the water and making sure you have enough breath whilst trying to remain as calm as possible.

After about an hour in the water you start to experience “brain freeze”, if you’ve ever eaten ice cream you’ll know what this feels like, but it doesn’t go away… slowly your fingers and toes also become numb and then you realise … after this I must get on a bike and cycle for 112 miles!

You have 2 hours and 20 minutes to swim the distance, if you are not finished in that time you are pulled out of the water by a boat and that is the end of your Ironman.

Part 2

At the end of the swim you drag yourself out of the water and are met by some amazing volunteers who are there to help you unzip your wetsuit, trust me after being in that cold water your extremities don’t work quite as they should… wetsuit unzipped its time to jog to transition 1 where you get your cycling kit on and collect your bike… this will be the longest transition time making sure I get properly dry and changed as I am about to cycle 112 miles.

Onto the bike …. So, you’re now sat on a tiny, thin plastic seat for 112 miles, again this section must be completed in 8 hours and 10 minutes or else the minibus picks you up and that’s your Ironman over!

The route, although picturesque and rural, is quite hilly “Athletes will take on the undulating hills of the Lancashire countryside during the 2-loop bike course. There are steep climbs on the course” and after being laid flat in cold water you now need your body to sit upright and start peddling.

Ironman 6

Food and drink will be at the forefront of my mind, trying to make sure my body is replenished and fuelled equally … trying to cycle and eat, to me is like trying to pat your head and rub your tummy, and with my feet clipped into the pedals its about making sure I don’t fall off!

With the Ironman you must be fully self-sufficient so if you get a flat tyre no one can give you anything or help you change it…. hours will be spent practicing changing a tyre, so if anyone wants to help me … I will be very grateful!

There are a few unknowns on the bike course… what happens if I really need a wee? … I would have drunk some of the flash’s water surely…. What’s the weather going to be like? …. How long will it be until my toes go numb and when can I eat?

7-8 hours on a bike, by yourself … no one to talk to… no music allowed … filling your brain with all kinds of rubbish but knowing that once this is over you must run a marathon (26.22 miles).

Part 3

Transition 2, where you rack your bike, take your helmet off, grab your running shoes and hope that your legs can at least walk. The run is around Bolton town centre (4 loops), by now I would have spent anywhere between 8.5-10 hours by myself exercising and telling myself that I am hungry and want a nap! Talking of food …. I am totally driven my food, so I would probably spend a few hours of the bike ride planning what I was going to eat, down to the finest detail! This will include cake and ice cream!!

So, the worst that can happen when you stop swimming is you drown, if you stop cycling you fall off and if you stop running …. you walk…. The run will be a mixture of walk and jog… stopping at the fuel stations to hydrate and feed … did I mention I’ll be starving by now!

Emotions will be running high and my body running on empty… it is here where I feel I will need to use other people’s energy, someone to shout, “you can do it” or “I have food” or just a face that smiles at you or a child with their hand out wanting a high five… ALWAYS give them a high five, you never know who you’re inspiring.

If you are free on the 15th July… I would LOVE to see your face!

I’ll have 6 hours and 30 minutes to complete the run and if I don’t I’ll be pulled off the course and the Ironman will be over, strict rules but you don’t become an Ironman easily!

In total I will have 17 hours to complete the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile run.

Am I crazy?… possibly!

Why am I doing it? A few reasons, mainly it’s Heartbeat NWCC’s 40th Birthday, this charity I work for is a small charity in Preston that offers cardiac prevention and rehabilitation to Lancastrians. We all know someone who has been affected by heart disease (STROKE, heart attack, angina, heart failure and congenital heart disease) and this charity helps over 800 people every single week. Heartbeat NWCC is entirely self-funded and relies on generous donations, I am hoping to raise a good amount of money for them, if you could donate anything please visit my JustGiving page

Sian Ironman

Secondly, because of the challenge and to me this is the biggest one out there.


Training and preparing for the Ironman will take over a year, approximately 10-15 hours a week. It is a huge commitment and one I would never be able to do without the constant support from my wife, Angela – thank you for believing in my crazy ideas!

A warning to all. I am probably tired and hungry whenever you see me, but now you know why!

P.s. it’s now just 4 months away!”

We are all so proud of our Sian for all her dedication, this will be a massive challenge, but we know Sian’s the girl for the job, and we’ll be there with bells on to support her!

If you would like to sponsor Sian and support her in this massive challenge, please click here

Thank you