Dickon’s First Triathlon: Kona Qualification

Dickon’s First Triathlon: Kona Qualification

Completing a triathlon is a challenging but rewarding experience. Irrespective of distance or the time it takes to complete, putting one sport straight after another can be somewhat onerous. Triathletes will often tell tales of events that featured waves that would sink ships and wind that would topple buildings, so the conditions prevented a perfect race. Some would argue you’ll never have a perfect race, endurance athletes are often far too critical of their own performance, never satisfied with a personal best as they could have done something slightly better.

Introducing Dickon Morris. Coffee wizard by day, first time triathlete and SBR Clothing ambassador by night. Dickon’s first triathlon was also nearly perfect..

Dickon raced Ironman UK in Bolton, finishing in a very respectable time of 11 hours 38 minutes he had little time to take in the scenery of the North-West and town centre finish.

How and why did you get into triathlon?

I've been involved in sport pretty much my whole life in one form or another. I've always run as part of training for other sports or just for an escape, and have been on and off the bike for 10 years or so. I'm also someone who loves a challenge and doesn't shy away from big goals, so an Ironman has been on the brain for at least a decade but the swim leg had always put me off. The Covid-19 lockdowns gave me the opportunity to firstly train properly for it, but also reassess life goals and so I just went for it. I figured I'd muddle through the swim and entered before it passed me by again.

What advice would you give to people thinking of taking up triathlon?

Don't worry about all the kit that's needed or a particular discipline of the three. You can get by on any old bike and either find a pool event or borrow a wetsuit and still have a great time! I would also really think about what will motivate you to train. I am quite comfortable training by myself and am motivated by numbers, but it never hurts to have mates or a club who'll join you on your weekend long run or ride and get you out there.

The near perfect race…talk us through your race day.

A 3am coffee and a bit of porridge started the day before I got myself onto the transfer to Pennington Flash and T1. I spent an hour or so checking over my bike, dropping off my finish line bag and nibbling on food before putting my legs through my wetsuit and heading to the swim start. I figured I'll finish putting my wetsuit on in the queue as we still had 20mins before the gun. Bad idea. 5mins to go and I pulled my arms through and pulled the zip cord and RIP. I couldn't believe what had just happened so I asked someone in the queue next to me if I had just torn the back of my wetsuit. A frantic 5 mins had me taking it off and giving it to a lovely couple watching who had a penknife and took off the bottom teeth. I then got it back on and zipped up and to my relief it worked…..for the first 50m into the swim before the back ripped open again. There was nothing I could do from there so I swam the remaining 3,750m with what felt like an open plastic bag on my back - not the most aquadynamic! I came out of the swim at 1hr18, pretty relieved it was over and jumped on my bike.

What. A. Ride.

The scenery and hills up around Bolton were incredible and I loved every pedal stroke for the first 100km. I felt strong and rode well within myself. Then the monsoons hit and we had torrential rain for 2hours. This slowed everything down as the Bolton bike course is renowned for technical descents on bad roads, which are even worse with floods across them. The infamous Sheep House Lane was something to look forward to on all 3 laps, not for the climb itself but for the Tour de France style support which gave a huge rush on every pass. The spectators came out in their thousands in the rain and made everyone's day with the support. With nearly 3,000m of ascent across the 180km course, the bike leg was pretty brutal, but I was disciplined with my effort and didn't let my heart rate get too much above 150, my zone2. I finished in a time of 6hr18. I was pretty happy with this, given the conditions and was excited to get running - my favourite of the 3.

T2 saw a full towel down, sock change, toilet stop and refuel before heading out for a 4 lap journey around Bolton. I felt great! At least for the first half marathon and before my quads felt like they were going to explode on every step. The run course is also renowned for being hilly and both the uphill and downhill sections felt like daggers in the quads. All I did was count the run in sections broken into a 4mile loop I do all the time at home. "Just 4 more times around that easy loop...just twice more….all you have left is that little loop you always do - that's easy!" I finished the run down the red carpet that I have dreamed about so many times and it was every bit as incredible as I imagined. To make it even better, I broke my target of 12hrs and my wife and 2 young boys had travelled over and were unexpectedly waiting for me as I finished! 

Kona Qualification – how did you feel and what are you going to do differently to prepare for Kona?

I still can't quite believe I got a Kona Slot. When I first got the news, I phoned up Ironman HQ to make sure they hadn't made a mistake. It was something I knew about of course but never in my wildest dreams thought I would qualify for!
Training has been pretty good so far, but I still haven't hit the same hours I was doing before IronmanUK. I am concentrating more on running speed and holding higher power efforts on the bike and just being comfortable being uncomfortable. The Kona bike leg is a long, rolling out and bike so I'll be spending a lot of time in the aero position and, whilst it is not as hilly as Bolton, there won't be many points to ease off.

For Kona, I have an overall goal time of sub 11 but I am mainly focusing on the run. I know I can go quicker and want to go sub 3.30hr. Now that I know what an Ironman feels like, I plan to be less conservative on the bike and be confident that I can hold power for 6hours and still have legs left. I can't imagine I'll be must faster on the swim but at least this one is non wetsuit so won't have the same problem as Bolton!