Birkdale Sixth Form students Ed and Oli recently completed the Ironman 70.3 in Portugal. They undertook this test of endurance to raise funds for The Peace Garden School in Nepal. RNVNepal is a charity which Birkdale have been associated with for over 20 years. We would like to congratulate Ed and Oli on this fantastic achievement.

They wrote the following account of their incredible journey. If you would like to support them please go to their gofundme page:

“We both felt quite nervous the night before and neither of us had much sleep before the alarm went off at 5.15am. We left the hotel 30 minutes later and arrived at the race at 6.15am to go through pre-race checks, ensure everything was ready for the different stages and get our wetsuits on. It was very busy with around 2,500 competitors, race officials and several thousand supporters.

The course was a treacherous one and started with us running down the beach into the Atlantic ocean for a 1,900-meter swim. The water was really cold and people were competing for space, and were quite physical at times. Just over 30 minutes later we exited the sea and had to run 500m up a hill to T1, the transition stage where we had to get out wetsuits off and get ready for the bike leg.

We took off on our bikes for the 90km ride and very quickly started to climb out of the town. The next 25kms were spent riding through the hills above Cascais, which had some brutal climbs but also some down hills where we got up to 70kph at times. There were two real highlights on the bike stage, the first was the opportunity to cycle around the Estoril F1 track as well as 50km of riding along the coast on closed roads. At this stage Oli was doing really well and Ed was just behind him, but then unfortunately Ed had a flat tyre which he could not fix. The only choices were either to withdraw or cycle 20km to the next bike station for specialist technical help, so he put his head down and cracked on, although at about 60% of the speed he had been doing. Unfortunately, the mechanic could not help, so the only option he had was to carry on for the last 5km, yet with even more bad luck his front tyre was damaged, and so he had to ride the last 5km with two flats, which was really tough.

Meanwhile, Oli had rushed through T2 and was quickly on the two-lap run along Cascais bay. It was now the middle of the day and with the sun beating down it was in the high 20’s, the race had been going for around 4 hours by now, but the crowds were fantastic with lots of support. When the time came we both ran down the finish line to hear our names over the tanoy and lots of applause from thousands of spectators.

Overall, this has been an incredible journey. At the start neither of us ridden a road bike before (they are very different and we both fell off alot at first) and Ed couldn’t swim front crawl, and even on race day Oli did his first half-marathon and Ed got a PB in his. Undertaking and finishing the race has been an amazing personal experience, incredibly challenge but also highly rewarding, along with knowing we are helping to make a difference to pupils at the Peace Garden School.

We are spending this week recovering from the race but have already started thinking…what next?”