Ironman Wales - A Photographic Record
I am a photojournalist and this publication is how I viewed Ironman Wales 2013.
By all means flick through the pages to look at the photos, but I encourage you to
take a little longer and “see” the images. What is each image saying? What story
is it telling? My aim is to evoke your memory of the race as completing it is a major
achievement and one that will stay with you.
I was mesmerised the moment I arrived in Tenby, a small town 90 mins west of
Cardiff, bordering the Atlantic ocean.
It is quaint and in the winter quite desolate I imagine but in summer comes alive to
throngs of tourists and then Ironman arrives at the beginning of September. 1800
hundred athletes, 500 volunteers, race officials - the town is breathing Triathlon.
Everywhere you look you see part of the spectacle, from shops hanging banners to
Ironman rucksacks and clothing. It is quite magical being so intimate.
This intimacy hides the fact that this course is nothing short of brutal. Hilly,
sometimes wet, a sea swim and a 1km run to T1 makes this a formidable race that
will quickly show up those who have not put the training in. This was all too evident
just 5 minutes into the swim where 2 people pulled out. One of them it transpires
had not swum more than 1500 metres before and that was in a pool. This is no
preparation for a 3800 metre sea swim in the Atlantic, however calm it might be.
This digital magazine is my photographic essay of how the day unfolded. From the
glory to sadness and despair. I look for a different perspective in my work and to
capture the day. The hardest part of creating a magazine like this is the amount of
images that you do not see that got edited out. To compensate for this I have created
a slideshow which can be found on YourTube by searching for Ironman Wales by
Follow me on Twitter @TriPhotographer to view my Triathlon photography, interviews
An interview with Lucy Gossage
The ladies winner
An interview with Ella-Rose
the youngest female competitor.
An interview with Rob Bacon
His incredible 3 months
An interview with Paul Kaye
The Voice of Ironman Europe
An interview with PC Mark Allen
Part of the South Wales Police
You have said in the past that you are not comfortable with other people’s
expectations of you at races. Having won Ironman UK a few weeks ago is it
becoming easier to deal with?
I have realized that at the end of the day it is just down to you and you can let the
pressure get to you or not. Earlier in the year it was definitely getting a bit too serious and
Ironman UK was a good window back into how much I love it and why I do triathlon. It has
made me realize that it is about having fun and that is why I am doing it. I have got the
love back and I want to do well on Sunday but all I can do is my best and see where that
gets me. I race better if I am enjoying it and relaxed.
The location here in Tenby is so beautiful – will the views help take your mind off
Yes – I am really looking forward to the bike, as I love riding this sort of terrain. Doing
a 100-mile bike ride around the hills where you have never been before is my idea of
heaven so really excited about that. I am slightly less excited and more apprehensive
about the run as it will be a challenge but I think I will be fine.
How do you find all the extra media attention you are now getting? It is necessary
for your sponsors but do you find it impacts on your training and personal life?
I like to be able to give something back to the sponsors as I feel I have been so lucky over
the past two years as they have been so generous. Where it does impact is at work as it
does take time especially after a race which is when I want to work.
Are you still on track to complete your PHD this year and what made you decide to
specialize in cancer of the kidney?
Yes – I will hand it in before Christmas. I worked for 2 ½ years as an Oncologist in
Nottingham and I was thinking of staying in Nottingham or going to Cambridge so did some
research and spoke with my now clinical supervisor in Cambridge and he inspired me to
go there. The lab where I ended up working was slightly challenging shall we say, so it was
not all I thought it would be but in the long run it has turned out to be quite a good PHD.
We have got some stuff that is worthwhile so there is light at the end of the tunnel, although
it does not always seem that way. A lot of the time it seems to take so long to do and the
goal so far away you wonder why on earth you are doing it. But now it is almost done it was
worthwhile but maybe not 5 years of my life.
There are actually a lot of similarities with triathlon. Goals so far away, not knowing why you
are doing it so I have learnt a lot of people skills and being able to collaborate with different
groups which has been very valuable.
Although you are doing research at the moment do you miss the clinical interaction
with your patients?
I do but to be honest if I wasn’t doing my PHD I would not have the time I do for triathlon so
it is blessing in disguise and I think it will make me better in the long term. I also miss the
feeling of doing something useful as my research is solitary and I like talking and being with
my patients. Being an athlete is a very selfish thing but I have done a few talks in schools
and I hope to do a few more of those.
You have said that you will be a full time pro for 2 years – is that realistic or will you
be tempted to continue longer?
I would like to do 2 Konas which I think is enough as it is not my job. I am a Dr and hand on
heart I miss it but I want to do this now as I am not getting any younger and cancer is not
going anywhere unfortunately where as I will get too old to compete in Triathlon.
You have competed in 2 Kona’s as an age grouper – is it enough to have done 4 than
to have the experience to win it?
Yes – what happens realistically if in my last Kona I have a mechanical and don’t finish or
equally go and finish 5th am I going to be happy with that? You don’t know but I think 2
Kona’s will be enough.
As an outsider and not knowing you I think that with your science background you
might look at the biomechanical elements of racing in more depth to give you the
My swimming has a long way to go but it is improving although a long way off from where
An Interview with Lucy Gossage
I want it to be. I don’t do as much running as I could. I train for ½’s and add on an
Ironman at the end of the year, so next year I will be training more specifically for full
Ironmans. I really want to break 3 hours on a marathon and I think I can do that, not
this year but next and bike efficiency plays a huge part and there is a lot more I can
do with that.
In terms of an Ironman athlete and an ITU athlete you are probably training
around the same hours per week, yet ITU athletes who move up to 70.3 are
doing very well due to their raw speed. Is there an argument therefore to train
for a 70.3 and then tag on an Ironman?
I am very much a diesel and I definitely do speed work in winter. I am slower than
I was in March but I don’t need to be running 5:30 miles at the moment, I need to
run 6:40 for 3 hours so I think every athlete is different. I don’t think you need to do
hundreds of hours but I will be doing more biking when I turn full time pro, as this is
what takes the time and more recovery like stretching and Pilates.
Your dad rides a Harley – do you have any road trips planned where your
parents go on the bike and you cycle behind and catch them up?
That is a really good idea! Mum might have to get a little more enthusiastic about
going on the bike though!
You have likened indoor winter training to “pippeting” is that something that
you zone out?
I used to do the Coach Troy DVD’s, as you need something if you are going to be
sitting there for 3 hours. You have to realise why you are doing it so I don’t watch
DVD’s. If you do then you might as well go out on the road as I think it is pointless.
I once did it for 5:38 which is pretty hard core! I use it in the summer for certain
sessions and I do like to Mountain bike in the winter.
Do you think that in general terms us Age Groupers do not push ourselves and
hurt ourselves enough?
You learn how to hurt but if I had the choice of a hard 5km or a 3 hour steady plod I
would go for the plod every time by my nature and I have learnt how to hurt and you
need to in training to be able to in races. You need to find friends to hurt with and
push each other.
How much hill training do you do given you live in a very flat area?
I did not actually realise that Bolton was hilly so in-between then and now I have been
working on the only hill near me which only takes 3 mins to get up. It is the biking that
you have to get used to so I have been using a Computrianer for big gear sessions,
as I don’t have any hills around me.
Excuse my ignorance but what is a Computrainer – it sound like much more
than a simple turbo?
You can program hill sessions and certain wattages etc so like a very clever turbo and
you can hook it up to your computer and ride various courses like Kona. If there is a
hill then it will emulate it.
You love endurance so have you ever thought of doing anything crazy like
RAAM (Race Across America)?
I would like to do all these crazy challenges when I am retired from Triathlon like Ultra
Runs and Marathon des Sables. I will have 2 months off after my last Kona when I
will do something like that as I love adventure. It would also be nice to see places as
opposed to racing them.
Talking about the race on Sunday how do you feel you will do?
It is a really strong field and a lot deeper than Bolton. This is going to be tough with 5
or 6 girls who could win.
You must feel strong with your wins and having going sub 9 hours in
On paper it should suit me as it is hilly and with the rain it will be one of the hardest
races I have ever done. I expect I will finish it feeling fairly broken.
You announced after Bolton that Erdinger were going to be one of your
sponsors and you being the only UK athlete out of a team of 13. How did that
It was a case of serendipity really and very exciting. I met the guy who did the
marketing for them at a race in the winter. It goes to show that you really should take
the time to coffee with someone as you don’t know where it will lead. I went over to
meet the guys in Erding and it all fell into place. It is really helpful for next year as it
eases the pressure. With Chain Reaction as well they really are my dream sponsors
along with Blue Seventy, ZeroD, Compression, High 5 etc.
Competitors arrive and inspect the board to find their name on the race list. Power Horse are global sponsors of Ironman races.
Each competitor collects their bag from the appropriate collection point. The volunteers are vital to each race.
The volunteers know that you will be nervous so their cheerful
personas help to relax everyone and put aside nerves.
I loved the contrast of cutting edge triathlon bikes in the transition
area and this lady’s town bike being pushed through the Expo.
Registering for the Ironkids race which took place on the Saturday. Outside the expo a team of mechanics took care of any last
minute adjustments the competitors bikes needed.
Arriving in Tenby (the little town of the fishes) on Thursday evening I could feel the Ironman
vibe already buidling up. Even though it was late the small picturesque town with its
pleathora of pubs and restaurants was alive and buzzing with Ironman. I was by myself but
soon joined a couple in town for the race for dinner. That is the spirit of Ironman.
I woke the following day to a view of golden sandy beaches (there are 2.5miles of them
in all) and a magnificent view of the historic harbour with the pastel coloured properties
surrounding it. I witnessed the town’s population of 5000 increase rapidly as people arrived
to register and aclimatise to the surroundings. Athletes were to be seen walking through the
town centre half undressed in their wetsuits having completed a practice swim in the Atlantic
Ocean. I cannot imagine this site anywhere else or it being allowed to happen. For this
weekend in Tenby though it was normal and the locals embraced it with open arms.
Saturday is bike racking day and the town was awash with high end carbon. Spectators and
supporters lined the streets near transition to wish everyone good luck and see the all day
spectacle of metal. By this stage the population must have doubled but this is probably not
uncommon. Tenby is a beauty spot and tourists from around the globe come here to holiday.
The Ironman Wales race effectively extends the holiday season for a further week bringing
in much needed money to see local businesses through the lonely winter months.
Arriving at a race can be a stressful time
even for the pros. You have concerns
about getting mechanicals on the bike or
maybe being unfortunate and suffering a
The only thing you can do is prepare
as carefully as possible. At each
Ironman race there is a team of qualified
mechanics on hand to help with any last
minute issues or just to give your bike a
check over to ensure there are no flints
embedded in your tyres and that your
gears are indexed correctly and running
Everyone sees what happens from eye
level but I like to explore from a different
perspective. Space is at a premium and I
loved the contrast of the Continental Tyre
bags on the tarmac along with the cyclists
colour in his shoes.
I saw this father and son whilst walking to the expo and could not resist
asking if I could photograph them. You can just sense their pride and bond.
The South Wales Police Triathlon team was founded over 10 years ago and initially
comprised of only 5 athletes. The section has grown considerably since those early
days and the club now boasts 46 members. The club is comprised of police officers and
support staff from the whole of the South Wales region. The club supports local events
and, last year alone, members took part over 50 races throughout the UK.
The club has a special affinity with Ironman Wales.
In 2011, 23 members took part in the inaugural event.
In 2012, 21 took part.
In 2013, 21 are set to step into the breach once more. Of these, 8 are taking part in
Ironman Wales for the third time!
Chief Superintendent, Alun ‘Maxi’ Thomas, one of the ‘Triple Crown’ Ironman Wales
‘Ironman Wales is the ultimate event for our club members. The event is local and
is, reputedly, the hardest Ironman in the world. The members who have taken part
previously would all agree that the support of the people of Tenby is second to none.
The feeling going up Saundersfoot (Heartbreak) Hill, being surrounded by crowds of
people, is immense. Last year, you may have seen a mad drummer running alongside
our team members as they went up the hill, this year he had a bugle!! Our legs were
screaming at this point and this really helped to get us to the top!’
‘The club has a motto- ‘helping ordinary people do extraordinary things’. To complete
the event members will have put in months of training. Some will be looking for
personal bests and qualification times whereas others will just be looking to complete
the course in the permitted time. Whatever the goal, we hope that all 21 members will
complete the course safely and enjoy the day’.
This year, the team are supporting one of Ironman’s designated/ partner charities-
Scope. The team have raised over £15,000 for different charities over the last 3 years
and the team hope to raise in excess of £5000 with this year’s efforts.
A piece by mark allen
Ironkids is an amazing spectacle that brings families and communities together in a very special and motivational way. It allows kids to be part of their mum or dad’s dream to be an
Ironman, it gives them something to train for, to look forward to and compete in. To be on Tenby’s North Beach on a Saturday afternoon and see hundreds of kids sprint across the
beach into the sea, pass waist deep around two buoys and then race to the finish line is what should happen on every beach every weekend.
The kids show so much grit, determination and tenacity to win. It is an all out effort taken seriously. These are our Ironman competitors of the future.
An Interview with Ella-Rose
You are the youngest female competitor in the race at 20, what motivated you ?
I have done a few things over the years but Ironman has always been at the back of my
mind. I never thought that I would do Wales though even though I live here as it is so hilly
but in February I was at my computer one evening and got a confirmation email through.
My mum had actually signed me up whilst she was away with friends and had a few
drinks! A bit of a surprise but here I am!
So it was not a birthday or Christmas present just a random gesture of kindness
Yes - I can’t complain though as here I am.
How fit were you in February given the enormity of the challenge that Ironman is?
I was ok as I had a marathon planned for March but had to do a lot of work on the bike. I
got straight out on it!
Were you a confident swimmer and biker back in February?
I was, as swimming is something that I have always done. I had completed my first
triathlon last year so had some experience on the bike and have done a few marathons
so my running was ok.
How are you feeling now that the race is two days away?
Nervous and excited. I am high one moment and feel sick the next and can’t talk to
anyone. I just want to get going now, race it and enjoy it.
What are you most apprehensive about in the race?
Not finishing or not making the cut offs. That is my biggest fear. I know I can make
them as I did the Long Course weekend earlier in the year but it is stringing all of the
Most ladies your age are out on a weekend clubbing and getting home at 06:00
which is probably when you are just leaving home for a training ride?
My closest friends have been really supportive which is great and I have not had a
drink since July. Some friends think I am really boring but most understand and will
be here on Sunday to support me. I don’t think they can believe how much time and
money I have put into it for what they consider is just a lot of pain.
Do you work or are you still a student?
I work for my parents at the moment who own a caravan park as I just left my job at a
race horse yard as i want to set up my own livery soon. It is actually right by the sea
which is why I have always swam and used to compete for my school.
How many 100 mile bike rides have you done?
I must have done 5 with the last one a month ago as I have been tapering and doing
faster shorter sessions. I love time trialling 20 or 25 miles and work hard at those.
How is your running considering you do marathons?
Before Ironman I would have said that running was my sport but I have never been that
good. I am not fast or pretty but I can do it. I have now come to love cycling and just find
running too slow and a little tedious. It takes a long time to get a good run in.
What time did you finish your marathon on March in?
It was not fast but I did it in 5:30 as it was off road and along cliff paths so really hilly.
Do you think you will win your category?
Having seen two of the other girls in my category I really don’t think so! I would love to
but think they will be too fast.
If you did win or they did but didn’t take their place for Kona would you go?
I would have to consider it as it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I have thought about
it as I didn’t know how many girls would be in my category. Actually it is a no option - I
would have to go!
05:30 and transition is busy with athletes removing the Powerbar
covers from their bikes before changing into their wetsuits.
Transition empties as everyone gathers ready to walk
down to the swim start in the Atlantic Ocean.
Sometimes a race is harder for the competitor’s partner than
for the athlete themselves. Saying goodbye knowing the effort
that they will put into an Ironman can be especially hard.
As the sun rises and athletes gather to leave, last minute checks are carried out to ensure the live tracking is
working enabling friends and family to follow the race.
Athletes walk down the cliff path that they will soon be running up again towards transition located about 1km away. Crowds have already lined up in the best vantage points to watch the swim.
Athletes step onto the sandy beach a few minutes before the race starts and then
they are off. I particularily liked the swimmers in unison with their green caps
contrasting against the pastel buildings, orange life boat and red life guard.
Two of the swimmers near the front of the pack race through the Australian exit for
the second lap of the swim.
There is great support as the athletes start their second lap. To the left of the top
frame you can see a lady immersed in the water waving the Welsh flag with pride.
Being in a horizontal position for so long during the swim it is not uncommon to take
a few moments to get your stability back. Your legs can feel like jelly as this man
discovered almost falling flat on his face. Luckily he regained his balance and was able
to charge off.
I love the determination on the ladies face opposite.
These kids have a great view of the race as athletes are about to turn the corner to begin the ascent of the cliff face.
Left - running shoes are left in bags to be collected on the cliff climb to enable you to run the 1km to transition. Most people take this opportunity to dry off, take off their wetsuit and run to T1 in
their Tri Suits. Many bottles are left at the side of the path to be collected having been consumed to rid the taste of sea water and hydrate before the bike section.
Right - Although Ironman in not a team event, when you have trained with someone for an extended period of time you may make a pact to just enjoy the race and do it together. This man was
waiting for his friend to finish the swim before heading to transition.
Part of the attraction of racing in Tenby is the 1km run to transition through
the town itself. The streets are lined with spectators from the start creating a
fantastic vibe for the athletes.
As runners near T1 they are passed by faster swimmers who have already started the 112 mile
bike section of the race. Caution was needed at the start with heavy showers making the roads
Have you had to train with so many races?
I am sure that the races help as you can do a bit less and just race and rest. It has not
been to bad and you do not have to do brick sessions as they occur naturally in the races.
You have experience with very hilly courses having raced Ironman UK 70.3 which is
notoriously hilly. Ironman Wales is also very difficult with some saying that it is the
hardest Ironman bike course of all. What is your expected finish time?
I was feeling confident before we went and drove the course today. I was thinking it could
not be worse than the 70.3 but I had my head in my hands with tears silently rolling down
my face. It was really hilly. I am worried about the swim as I have never done a sea swim
before so hoping to just finish that to be honest. If I could get 1:45 I would be very happy.
For the bike I would have been happy with 7 hours but having seen the course slower than
that. 14 hours would be my dream time but under 15 I would be very happy with.
Will you compete in anymore races this year?
A friend has asked me to do a 1/2 marathon with him in October but I don’t think I will do it.
I am just going to carb load with mince pies, christmas pudding and some brandy over the
You live in Aberdeen - how do you cope with the traveling? It is a 12 hour drive to
here which shows some commitment. You could have flown to LA in that time and
probably cheaper with our fuel prices!
I love the atmosphere here so I don’t mind but may look at doing just 1 or 2 events in 2015
You also raced the Abu Dhabi triathlon earlier in the year?
Yes - it was my first ever triathlon. I did the short course which is slightly longer than an
Olympic distance due to a longer bike. I was panicking about the 70.3 so did it for the
experience and was lucky as I used to live there we could stay with old friends. It was very
hot a large contrast with the wind and rain we might experience here.
What are you going to eat after the race?
Chips, something deep fried and beer. Lots of beer!
Your story is quite amazing - please tell me about it.
I started with the Outlaw half Ironman in June which was fantastic and very well
organized, a great group of people. It was actually my practice event for the Ironman
UK 70.3 in Exmoor which I was terrified of as I never thought I would be able to do it.
It actually went very well considering I survived and was still around afterwards. I did
that race for the Rotary Charity and as they had a few people drop out of Ironman UK
in Bolton, I thought I could raise some more money and do that as well. I did not tell
anyone, not even my wife, parents or friends until 3 weeks before the race. I did begin
to panic a little with it being a full Ironman so did a sprint before hand. Bolton went
well for me but I then realized that earlier in the year I had entered the Aviemore Long
Hard Durty the week after which is a mountain bike and cross country triathlon. Then
the week after that was the Aberfeldy 1/2 Ironman race (editors note - I am sitting here
laughing at the sheer craziness of this!) which was in Perthshire, a beautiful location
but it involved cycling up one of the Monros. I then remembered that I had signed up
for a Tough Mudder in Edinburgh the year before so I did that one and then 2 weeks
break before Ironman Wales! So it has all be a bit of a strange year really.
How do you recover?
With difficulty! I think the medicinal qualities of a couple of beers have been well
proven, a lot of patience from my wife, a lot of carb loading, my wife’s homemade date
cake helps a lot (I can confirm how good it is) and I think a little craziness!. Next year I
will take it a little easier but I have already signed up for 4!
An interview with rob bacon
The bike leg consists of one long loop and two smaller ones. As I did not
have any transport I chose to take the shuttle bus to Saundersfoot which is
located on the 2nd loop. From this picturesque seaside village I would be
able to see the riders pass through twice.
I spotted this young lad at the top of Heartbreak Hill in the village. He was
studying photography at school so I was only too happy to give him some
pointers whilst we waited for the leaders to arrive.
Welsh pride was in abundance throughout the race but especially on the bike. People had adorned
themselves with the national flag and racers had had custom helmet paint jobs done as well as tri kits in the
Having interviewed Lucy Gossage before the race I was exstatic to see her leading the womens race. I have photographed her here on Heartbreak Hill which she powered up yet had
a beaming smile. In contrast some of the male pros went slower but with a face full of pain. This was the first Ironman race that Lucy had been wearing her new Erdingner and Chain
Reaction sponsored kit and it looked fantastic. From a photographer’s point of view this coupled with her pink Compress Sport calves supports made her very easy to spot.
Ex Pro cyclist and winner of the Paris-Roubaix, Magnus Backstead conquers Heartbreak Hill on his
custom made to measure Wyndy Milla TT bike.
Following Pages - I asked the owners of a house at the top of the hill if I could shoot from their upstairs
window and they kindly agreed. What follows is a unique perspective of the race that was unavailable to
I really enjoy capturing reflections so was pretty happy to get this one. The gap in the window was very narrow causing me to get into quite a contorted position to get the shot.
Patriotism is strong in Wales with a strong identity. The whole area embraces the event and
the Welsh wear their flag with pride. The crowds appreciated this and went wild everytime a
rider went past in with the Welsh flag on their jersey or helmet.
The effort of Heartbreak Hill A dog looks on in bemusement at the spectacle that goes past.
Scott receives a Police escort being the leader on the road. He
went on to win the race.
This image shows the rapid rise of Heartbreak Hill. From sea level racers turn left
and are hit with a virtual wall striking fear into them.
To an outsider a Ironman is a young persons sport
but this is not the case. People of all ages, shape
and sizes take on the challenge of 3.8km swim,
180km bike and 42.2km run.
Lucy dominates the run continually
extended her lead. She looked very
comfortable on the bike but the run was
pure hard work and determination.
With the swim and run centered around Tenby all sorts of street food is on offer to cater
for the spectators. I wonder how many athletes coming around this corner wished for one
of the sausages or two, or to go into the pub for a cheeky pint?
Scott Neydeli celebrates his victory in style. He was to later say that he did not know
where it had come from. Although a full time pro he also holds down a regular job so an
The European voice of Ironman Paul Kaye is a machine just as much as the athletes. Working crazy hours he witnesses all the
emotion of the finishing chute. Here Sebastian Escole-Fasseur, an age grouper from France, has to lay down having finished in
an incredible 8th place.
I make no excuse for such extensive inclusion of Lucy Gossage in this publication. To win so
convincingly in Tenby having also won Ironman UK just 5 weeks before is nothing short of
pure brillance and class.
Here you can see her being interviewed by the Ironman TV crew.
Previous Page - It was decided that Lucy won by such a commanding victory that it was too
cold to wait for the women in 2nd and 3rd place to finish to do the medal presentation. As
such she had an individal one. Whilst this was happening another very fast age grouper was
delighted to have finished in sub 10:00.
Ironman is about the journey as much as the race. With seemingly endless hours
training, working out nutritional needs, going to sleep visualising the race and worrying
about mechanicals it is no wonder that crossing the finish line is such an emotional
event. Even the Pros get emotional especially after winning. But the emotion felt by the
competitor is often as much as those felt by their families. Here Lucy’s dad shows how
proud he is as Lucy chats to spectators after the race.
45 minutes after Lucy crossed the line to win the cut off time of 10:30 to complete the bike
and swim fast approaches. The previous pages show those who just made it, one with
literally zero seconds to spare.
This page shows some of the unfortuante ones who arrived just too late. The officials who
have to explain this to the athletes understandably hate this part of the day.
If you think you may struggle to make the cut-off then think hard about every stop you take as
those 2 minutes might make all the difference.
Following Pages - Whilst the winners shower and celebrate the race continues for another
7-8 hours for the age groupers. It is quite crazy to think that the difference in time between
first and last place is the equivalent of running 2 marathons for an average paced club runner.
As a police van blocks the road signalling the end of the bike, a competitor who had fallen during the
bike and broken his arm returns his Ironman Timing Chip.
Two marshals direct the last motorbike outrider into the transition area signalling that all cyclists are back in Tenby. This is a sweep bus that follows the last riders to pick them up should they
need to pull out or are a substantial way from making the 10:30 cut off time.
The marathon takes runners through the historic harbour city where even in wet conditions the
support is in full force encouraging runners to the fnish. This is the point where runners turn left to
the finish or right to start another lap.
The volunteers who man the feed stations are so respected and vital. They literally keep
This band of drummers was located by the harbour and proved very popular.
A finisher on his way home through Tenby town centre. At the same time as others have over 4 hours left to run. The crowd support is constant
throughout the race making for a wonderful atmosphere.
You are the voice of Ironman - how long have you been doing it for?
I announced my first Ironman in 2001 at Gordons Bay in South Africa near Cape Town but
I had actually done the TV voice over for the race in 2000 so that was my first involvement.
The race then left South Africa not coming back until 2004 as a 70.3 which I did and then as
a full Ironman in 2005 in Port Elizabeth, so next year is the 10th anniversary. I raced Ironman
Austria in 2008 and 2009 and then did the announcing from 2010 onwards. In 2011 I got
involved in the European Tour with Ironman Wales so this is my third one and properly on the
European Tour in 2012. This is my final event of the year and marks my 17th event of this
year. I do have one smaller event in Africa in November though.
That is a lot of events - how do you cope with the traveling and family life?
I am blessed that my wife travels with me as she runs the Ironman merchandising tent which
works really well. My son also lives in Copenhagen so as we base ourselves here for 6
months (Paul is from South Africa) it makes it a lot easier for me to see him. Kelly and I love
to travel so it is a real benefit to us and we love to meet new people, experience different food
and see new places. The only part we dislike is delayed flights and security at the airports.
For example coming into Cardiff yesterday from Amsterdam our passports were checked 3
times in 20 metres. Apart from that it is a dream job.
You competed in Austria with the final part of the swim down a Canal. How is that
It is amazing in many respects. Firstly the town of Klagenfurt is quite compact so you can feel
the Ironman fever. The Wörthersee is an incredible lake, crystal clear of drinking water quality.
The weather is Mediterranean with a mass start of around 3000 making it like Kona. The
first buoy is 1km so the field spreads out by then. By the time you reach the canal you have
900m of the swim left and the water flows fast so with a draft you fly. It is very special. The
bike course is stunning through Alpine villages. There are steep climbs but also long descents
as your reward. The IM record was set here by Marino in 7:45:58. The run course is 2 loops
through the village and along the canal path predominately in the shade. The finish line is
incredible with so much energy - it is almost like a disco.
With your announcing schedule in Europe when will you find time to race?
It is very hard but I hope to in Australia or New Zealand in December or January as these are
the only two months I can race.
What is your PB?
Unfortunately both of my races took a great deal of traveling to get to beforehand which
did not work for me. If you are traveling to a race then give yourself enough time. You have
invested so much time and money to get to a race don’t try and cut corners and get there at
the last moment. Try to arrive 5 days prior to the start. I still have not figured out my nutrition
so my first one was 13:32 and my second 13:52 the second time where I should be doing
11 something so I have unfinished business which I will finish. Working full time on the tour I
have had to put my racing on hold so will see what happens next year.
You are commentating for upwards of 9 hours at the finish line which I would imagine can
get repetitive. What do you like to see the athletes coming down the finishing shoot do?
For me an Ironman weekend is typically 16 hour days leading up to the race. There are
press briefings, athlete briefings, Ironkids, company triathlons so it is a long weekend.
On race day which is a 17 hour race I am up at 3:30 on site an hour later and start
announcing at 5:30. I finish at around 12:30 the next day so it is around 22 hours in all. I
keep myself fit but the athletes energy, sense of achievement and the crowds are integral
to us. The crowds are so important to keeping us going. The finish chute is very personal
and emotional. It is narrow with athletes coming down almost singularly and not en masse
as you might find in a marathon. I have seen guys come down walking on their hands,
I have seen people crawling and some sprinting and none is any less special as it is all
relative to that person. Being part of that individuals success is what keeps the announcer
going. We actually measured it once and we did almost 9km up and down the 75m carpet
in around 7 hours so we move around a lot. I typically lose my voice at Midnight so as
soon as I stop that is it.
Does the DJ travel around with you as they seem quite an important part of the
dynamic with the crowd?
The DJ is so important and what we do is intangible. We work together and they are
critical. When I announce in South Africa I have the same DJ who is very well known
but in Europe we have a different one at each race. The DJ has to feel and manage the
energy of the crowd as we cannot keep them high all the time. They need to listen to the
An Interview with Paul Kaye
announcer and watch the weather so if it starts raining they can lay a rain orientated song.
As we get more experienced in each location it just gets better and better. The first priority is
safety as that is paramount but once that is set we can look at the finer details.
You come to places like Tenby as you see the whole town is alive with the Ironman
vibe. You must love that?
There is a sense of community and that is what makes it special. When you arrive, they are
happy to see you and the athletes feel this and it really adds to the race.