Steve Elliott’s Immortal Challenge for 2019
Posted on: January 22, 2019
As a founding director of Immortal Sport, it is a great privilege to have turned my passion for sport into a business. If I was forced to find a down side, it is that during the season when I would like to be racing, we are busy hosting our own events.
Our passion for amazing events at unbeatable locations means there are no race routes I would rather do than our own, so for 2019 I have set myself the challenge of taking the swim strokes, wheel tracks, and strides of each of our athletes at all of our races before the Immortal Sport calendar begins with Yeovil Half Marathon on 31st March.
The journey kicked off on New Year’s Day, when I tackled the Yeovil Half Marathon in 1:55:17.
On Sunday 6th January, it was the turn of Wincanton Triathlon, where I was joined by Alan Ridout and a number of triathlon trainees who are new to the challenge and working towards Wincanton as their first event. For the first time in a long time I swam 400m and was pleased with my time of 8 minutes flat. For the bike and run I acted as a guide to our newcomers, and it was great to see the enthusiasm and the constant beaming smiles of all the ladies throughout – even when the going got tough.
Saturday 12th January was the Stourhead 10k and MegaSprint triathlon races. I was delighted to be joined by Alan Power, Stourhead National Trust’s Garden and Estate Manager, and Luke Simon, founder of the wonderful School in a Bag Charity, who are one of our partners for Yeovil Half Marathon. The 4.5mile run route of the Immortal Stourhead MegaSprint was our first challenge, and we decided to go in for the 10k run straight afterwards. We totalled 9.75 miles in 1:28:57, at just a shade over 9 min/mile pace. This only tells part of the story…
For those of you that have been to Stourhead, the splendour of the estate needs no introduction. To have Mr Alan Power as a guide whilst running through this iconic location was amazing. Luke and I soaked up an abundance of knowledge regarding the history, geography, and origin of the trees, plants, and wildlife on the estate. It was like a school field trip to eclipse all others – thank you Alan. It also helped the time pass so quickly and the miles tick over with relative ease. After the essential photo opportunity, Luke and I said goodbye to Alan and set out to tackle the MegaSprint bike course.
The weekend of events at Stourhead has something quite unique on offer. Many seasoned athletes have signed up to complete the Triple Crown: on the Saturday they will compete in the 10k followed by the MegaSprint triathlon race in the evening. Then on Sunday they will take on the Immortal Half Distance triathlon. I hope I can be forgiven for not swimming in the ice-cold waters of Stourhead Lake in January. Instead, I swam more than the accumulative swim distance in our local pool in Yeovil to make up for it. I completed 3 sets of 1k recorded on the excellent SwimTag platform.
After the efforts of Saturday, this left me to tackle the 56-mile bike and 13-mile three lap run. My bike buddy for Sunday was Simon Pearson, who is often seen as sweep bike on many of our races. I set myself the target of a 4-hour bike ride, which I felt was realistic on the very hilly course in high winds, and saved enough time for the run to finish. We set off at 9am heading north up the B3092 from Stourton. The left turn towards Alfred’s Tower took us heading west into the winds we could expect for the rest of the ride – this was going to be tough!
Each lap amounts to around 18.5 miles and I dictated the pace at around a 15mph average. The winds were strong but being a circuit, it did assist us for around ¼ of each lap, thankfully throughout the longest climb. After the snack stop at the end of lap 2, I had already decided that tackling the run straight after was not an option! I had only run a half marathon once before (on New Year’s Day) and running off the bike is for athletes in a much stronger condition. I decided to go back to Stourhead on another day to complete the run leg.
Having removed the stress of running off the bike, the final lap passed very quickly and without incident. The bike lap at Stourhead offers a huge variety: fast flowing descents, some technically challenging turns, some stunning scenery, and some great locations on race day where supporting friends and families get to create a memorable atmosphere. I had planned to complete the bike leg by 1pm, and we turned onto the stunning driveway to Stourhead House at 12:59!
Now I am enjoying a couple of rest days before heading back in to the gym: just some steady weights and a bit of spinning to let the legs recover. I was in the pool on Friday to do at least the 400m of Taunton Triathlon, which takes place on the evening of Saturday 25th May. I then completed the race distance at 1000 on Sunday 20th Jan. The missing Stourhead Half Marathon will then be completed on Saturday 26th January, with Martock 10k the following day, Sunday 27th January.
That’s 4 of my 16 challenges done, and I’m loving every minute of it!