Manchester men make light work of epic endurance event

By Carly Turner

Two Manchester Triathletes are celebrating after completing one of the sport’s toughest events.

Brian Mullen from Stretford and Nick Thomas from Altrincham, who are both aged 40, have just returned from Lanzarote after completing a Double Enduroman race earlier this month.  

The race, which consists of a 4.8 mile swim, 224 mile cycle and a 52 mile run, was the first in the Enduroman European Ultra Triathlon Championships 2011 which consists of 11 events held across the continent.

The pair are both members of Manchester Triathlon Club where Nick is also a club coach.

Nick, who finished fifth overall, completed the event in 27 hours and 27 minutes, had been planning to do this level of event for several years after completing other Ironman distance events (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile cycle and 26.2 mile run) including the famous Kona Ironman in Hawaii in 2002.  Studying for a degree meant he had little time to dedicate to the event until this year.

Brian on the other hand only became interested in Triathlon around 5 years ago when a chance remark from a friend prompted him to join the club and he quickly became hooked on the sport.

The Enduroman event was Brian’s way of celebrating his 40th birthday. He said: “I didn’t want to spend my birthday getting drunk and the event coincided with turning 40.”

Brian completed the event in 32 hours and 25 minutes even finding time to stop off at a hotel buffet for bacon sandwiches and coffee during his run.

The pair were remarkably modest about their achievement and although Brian said he was there “to complete rather than compete”, neither contemplated the possibility that they would not make it to the finish line.

 “If you turn up at the start line then you may as well finish,” said Brian.

Nick, who juggles coaching at the club, a full time job and around 20 hours of training per week, said: “You need to want to be there, if you enjoy what you are doing then the events are not that difficult. How hard it is depends how much you want it.”

Both men agreed that the swim was the worst part of the event with Brian being sea-sick twice while struggling with the current. The bike section was their favourite part of the event as they cycled through the night: “With lava fields on one side, sea on the other, it was so different to anything I’d ever experienced,” said Brian.

Both men are now looking to their next events; Nick is focusing on a Triple Enduroman in Lichfield in June 2011. This event will consist of a 7.2 mile Swim, 336 mile cycle and 72 mile run.

He is not intending to drastically increase his training from his current 20 hours per week as this is realistically the most he can fit in. “If you compete in events regularly enough then your body is ready for the next one,” he said.

Brian plans to focus on doing faster events and is likely to do a half-Ironman next but says he would definitely compete in a double distance event again in the future.

The profile of Triathlon has been raised recently with celebrities like Jenson Button and Vernon Kay taking part in last year’s London Triathlon at a less daunting 1,500 meter swim, 40km cycle and 10km run distance event.

Manchester Triathlon Club have reported a record number of members joining for this year and club coach Nick had advice for newcomers to the sport. He said: “The more you put in, the more you will get out of it. The coaches at the club are always on hand to offer guidance and advice.”

Brian is keen to encourage anybody thinking about getting into Triathlon. “Just do it. Find a race and enter really quickly, that way you will stay focused,” he said.

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