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Abu Zaki's IMUK 2009 Race Report
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Abu Zaki




Joined: 23 May 2009
Posts: 94
Location: Middle East

PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 7:21 pm    Post subject: Abu Zaki's IMUK 2009 Race Report Reply with quote

its a bit long but the day was long:

March 2009. The waiting list for the Ironman UK race was still open. A quiet day in the office meant that for some reason I found myself enrolling myself on the waiting list. I never really thought any more of it until in mid April an email popped up saying a place had come up and I had 48 hours to confirm. Reality check: An Ironman competition is a 3.8km swim, I did not know how to do front crawl and was a pretty lousy breast stroke swimmer, a 180km bike ride, I had ridden a bike 5 times over the last 26 years and the longest I had cycled was 20km, a full marathon, the easy bit as I had run the Bahrain marathon in February.

The next 24 hours were spent considering whether this was a ridiculous idea or not. Eventually I decided that if you set your mind on something you could achieve it and that the Ironman race was more mental than anything physical. Of course one had to be physically able to complete it but on the day I thought it was going to be as much a mental challenge than anything else.

I will briefly roll back to August 2007. I wanted to run the Bahrain Marathon in February 2008. I could run about 10 km very slowly and I weighed 112kg. I got myself a personal trainer and started running to a programme. The inevitable injuries came but thankfully also healed before my first major race which was the half marathon in January 2008. 21km seemed a ridiculous distance, the same as running to the airport from my house but I did it an was over the moon. I ended up also running the 2008 and 2009 marathons, both with problems but both sub four hours. Anyway back to 2009.

So I started swimming lessons. I realized that I could actually swim a length of a 23 metre pool in very bad front crawl but this would leave me gasping for air for the next two minutes. I persevered and after a month could do about ten lengths but was still completely exhausted on finishing. I had only reached 5% of my goal and I only had 12 weeks to go. I hated swimming by this time. 8 AM starts in the pool felt really tough and my progress seemed incredibly slow. But without really realizing it I was suddenly up to 60 lengths and then I knew that somehow I would be able to do the distance. By race day I had swum 3.5km or more three times. The last time I did it was in full wet suit in a very warm pool. Being able to swim a longtime I had realized is actually not the full story. You actually have to swim where you are meant to swim. How can you see where you are going if you have your head under water? Well I still donít know. The pool attendant stopped me on my wet suit swim and said I was using the whole pool and please could I go in a straight line. I tried to explain to him that I was trying to and he suggested I aim for the light at the end of the pool. But my eyes are facing the bottom of the pool. How was I going to swim 3.8km in a lake if I could not see where I was going?

At the same time as learning to swim I started to cycle. But where could you cycle? I managed to persuade the Bahrain International F1 circuit to allow me to cycle round their track. I managed 9 laps and it was great going down the home straight at 45km per hour but I realized I could not possibly continue cycling in the day time heat. The Bahrain daytime temperature was already pushing the high 30s and in the dessert and humidity, felt much worse. Awali Wheelers are a group of cyclists who cycle ridiculously early on Friday mornings. I felt pretty confident of cycling because of course as children we have all cycled a lot and I had now done some three hour sessions on a gym bike. 35km into my first ride with the Wheelers and I am dropped off the back of the group and they all disappeared. I eventually make it back to base after about 60 km and can hardly walk. I realized there is no embarrassment in wearing the most padded pair of cycling shorts available and putting a soft cover on the piece of metal they call a seat. Getting some real time on the bike meant starting at 5 in the morning. I managed one 140k ride and a few others of 120k. Short of the target 180k but it would be a lot cooler in Bolton so I felt comfortable that I would be able to make the distance.

As for the small matter of the marathon I knew that if I made the cut offs on the swim and bike I would be able to run/walk the marathon. So I kept my running ticking over but didnít do too much.

I will fast forward to the end of July and the race itself. I travelled with my wife and two children aged two and four from Bahrain via Dubai to Manchester. We had booked an apartment in the centre of Manchester. We arrived on the Thursday night. Friday was mostly spent driving around Manchester trying to find the road to Bolton. When we arrived at the race venue we had to park the car in a muddy field and then walk back some fair distance with the two children in tow to register. My wrist was given an ID tag and I started to get a bit frightened. I then went to buy some very expensive compression socks and arm warmers and co2 canisters for inflating tyres quickly. Fortunately the man at the shop gave me a quick lesson on how to use them. Yes thatís right I had never changed a tyre inner tube.

Saturday was picking my bike up and getting a last minute lesson on how to reattach the chain if it falls off. I know it sounds basic but I am not good on mechanical things and at this stage had only ridden a road bike 15 times and the only puncture I had received was when I crashed and needed a full bike service. The bike then needed to be taken back to the race venue and checked in. This done I wandered around the venue looking at the hills, the huge lake and truly wondered what I was doing. The race venue field was now deep mud. It felt cold and I felt very alone with an enormous task to do. I couldnít hang around as my wife had been dropped at a big shopping centre with the kids and I knew she would by now be climbing walls.

We got home and I ate well at about seven. I went to bed at nine thinking there was no way I would fall asleep but suddenly it was 2:45 and time to get up. I crept around the flat making coffee and peanut butter on toast. It felt like a condemned manís final meal. This huge thing was going to happen to me and I could not stop it. The seconds and minutes were just going to tick away until it happened. I woke my nephew who had offered to drive me to the venue and we crept out of the flat. Into the street and we are faced with a huge post nightclub street party. It all seemed very incongruous. Lots of post party revelers getting into taxis and me creeping off to my fate.

I knew the way to Bolton now so no mistakes. The roads had been closed near to the venue so it meant a 20 minute walk up hill carrying your kit for the swim and last minute bits for the bike. I chuckled to my self as I passed five people on the walk up thinking that this would be my best stage of the race. I found my bike and fitted in my supplies and pumped up the tyres. I can just about do this normally and managed to do it this time with no great hassle apart from tripping over and knocking the next bike over. I was surrounded by incredibly fit people who all seemed to know exactly what they were doing and what was going to happen. I felt completely out of place. But the seconds and minutes were still ticking so I tramped off for a very important toilet stop which was completed successfully. Then it was into my wet suit, hat and goggles. Someone zipped me up and I walked slowly and inexorably down to the start. We were kept in what felt like a holding pen for the condemned for what seemed like ages. My bare feet were already very cold and I could not even see the water yet. Eventually the gate opened and we walked down a steep path to the lake entrance. And there it was this huge body of freezing water. Some people went straight in but I hung back as the masses of competitors pushed forward as they came down the hill. A man on a loud speaker kept on telling us to get in but we kept on hanging back. I didnít want it to start and as long as I was on dry land it couldnít. I was almost driven into the water eventually. The cold was, well very cold. But now I was in I needed to move around to get warm. I swam for what seemed ages to a group who seemed about 50 metres behind the start line. I asked whether they were trying to start at the back. They were and I tread water with them waiting for the start. Then everyone started shouting a strange school boy rugby tune and I just started laughing. There we were all 1,450 of us in freezing water singing rugby songs at six in the morning. Then a hooter went and we were off.

I was doing fine, nice controlled strokes, heart rate in check. I overtook someone. I was going to be fine and I kept telling myself that the swim was the easy bit of the day. Suddenly I had a current against me caused by a mass of swimmers who had turned the corner and were now swimming back towards the start. We basically went round a line of boughs 360 degrees twice. I seemed to be going nowhere however and it seemed an eternity before I could make my turn at the last bouy. Just keep going I said to myself and before you know it, it will be finished. My head started to feel frozen. My right eye and ear which never came out of the water, as I breathe on the left only, were exploding with pain. I knew I had to stop. I lifted my goggles and gave my head a few seconds of air and did a few strokes of breast stroke. Much better but I realized I was going very slowly and I needed to do front crawl to finish in time. I kept going stopping when the pain was unbearable. One of the stops was after one full loop, I was back at the start line and I lifted my head up to hear ďand the ninth out if the water isÖĒ. I couldnít believe it. Some people were already free of this torment and I was only half way. I wanted to cry. I wanted to stop. I wanted to be free of this piercing pain in my head. A few weeks before, I heard someone say that sometimes we only fail because we give up. I wasnít going to give up. I knew that if I kept on going I would be able to get out and I knew the swim would not last more than two hours or so at the maximum and anyone can endure that . So I kept on swimming. 200-300 meters, stop, head out, 5 strokes breast stroke and then front crawl again. Finally I was around the last buoy and heading for the shore. This bit of the swim had taken a few minutes swimming out and now seemed to take an eternity. But finally someone held out their hands to help me stand. I couldnít. He lifted me to my feet and I staggered out of the water. I was almost deliriously happy. I could breathe and my head, eye and ear stopped hurting at once. I went as fast as I could up the steep hill back to the tent and changed into my cycling gear. I was so cold that I simply could not put my socks on. A very kind woman was helping me and I could see she thought I was taking ages. But eventually I am set and I run out to get my bike. When I had left this morning there were 1400 or so bikes. Now there were less than 30. I was the 29th slowest in the water.

Onto the bike and I felt so happy whizzing down the first hill. There was then an enormous hill to climb. I thought I had sorted this out by biking up to the Banyan Tree in Bahrain, err thatís a gentle incline. Anyway out of the saddle and I get up the hill pretty well. There were hundreds of people lining both sides of the hill shouting on encouragement and you feel quite special and almost as if you are an athlete. There was a drink stop just before the top of the hill but I somehow didnít see it until I had passed it. Then it was on to some downhill bits which meant brakes on all the way down for me. I was frightened of the unknown on the bike and having only ridden the bike for a few months was wary of what might be around the next corner or over the brow of a hill. Still I reached 58 kph at one stage. After about 15k I heard this strange noise behind me coming up fast. It was the eventual winner lapping me. It had started already. There seemed lots of hills but I seemed to be doing fine. My chain came of twice but thanks to my lesson the day before I was able to reattach it. Then my reflector on my back wheel got stuck in the spokes. I had been ignoring this noise for sometime hoping it would go away when it got really loud. I could not work out what it was but thankfully a passing rider pointed it out. Loose enough to get stuck in the spokes but not loose enough for me to unscrew it easily.

Lap one finished and lap two started with massive shouts and cheers from the spectators on the hill and over a bridge across the lake. This was fun I thought. But it then started to get hard. It took an age to get to 80km and then I was counting off trying to get to 90 and half way, a hundred etc. The second lap just seemed to be all hills. My legs were loosing all power and I seemed to be making very slow progress. Towards the end I was being lapped constantly by a stream of people who were finishing their third and final lap. At one intersection a young spectator heckled us saying we only had the small matter of a 42k marathon to come. I was too exhausted to tell him that I had also the small matter of another 60 km on the bike as well! The first lap had been around 2 hours and 20 minutes. The second one was about 2 hours and forty minutes and then the last lap. I was into new territory on a bike. I had been sitting on it now for five hours after a 2 hour swim. It hurt. The seat had become a poker. My lower back was having near spasms and my legs were twingeing. Fortunately I had my normal watch on and worked out that I had three hours and more to get back. Up the hill for the last time. Most of the spectators had gone by now and it started getting lonely again. Because I was right at the back I rarely saw another cyclist despite there being some 1400 out on the course. For some reason my chain was set at the small ring in the front for the whole of the third lap. I kept on looking at it and wondering why and then forgetting to do anything about it. The route looked completely different. I hardly recognized anything. At one police controlled junction I asked the policeman which way to go and he started laughing as he pointed me in the right direction saying this was my third time along there that day. I donít know what happened but I seemed incapable of really thinking of anything other than pedal, pedal, pedal, donít fall off, donít get a puncture. This was my worse fear. I hated going on anything but the smoothest surface as I knew that I would not have time to mend a puncture.

I have an hour to do the last 15km. Thatís easy I think. I look at my speedometer; it reads 15kph. Thatís ok I think I can speed up but I had forgotten the hills at the end and I am down to barely walking speed. No one else seems to be around but suddenly I am over the hill and on the road down to the transition and I can see lots of people running. I arrive at the bike run transition and this guy with a microphone wants to interview me. Is he crazy? I am in a race. I hand my bike over to some very kind person and then squelch through to the change tent to get ready for a marathon. I had been going now for ten hours and fifteen minutes and never want to see water or a bike ever again. I am completely drained physically and mentally. But I will only fail if I give up.

So it is in to the changing room where I manage to spend ten minutes changing my shorts and shoes. The time just flew by. It was increased slightly by the guy getting changed next to me who said ďSorry but can you tell me where to put lubricant before the marathon? I canít think for myself.Ē Between the two of us we worked out which areas of the body might rub and so which to lubricate Ė we were so mentally drained it did take us a couple of minutes. It sounds simple but it was with great satisfaction that I left the tent knowing I had remembered everything.

So I start out on the run. This is nonsense I think. Run? I have been going for ten and a half hours, I can barely walk let alone run. Then suddenly I am out of the transition area and running down the road. Everyone is going really slowly and I start passing people. Whatís going on I wonder. I check my Garmin and realize I am running too fast for my plan. I really try to slow down but struggle. Running suddenly became so easy after the horrors of the swim and bike. Now it was just down to me and my legs. I knew now that I would finish. I was over the moon. I had almost seven hours to complete the marathon and I was running at sub four hour pace. I kept forcing myself to slow down and suddenly realized that I was a bit warm. I was still wearing by cycling arm warmers. Very useful on top of the moors early in the morning going down hill but less useful running a marathon. I had a small waist bag attached to my gel belt and luckily they just about fitted in. That sorted I was off again. There were people lining the routes handing out oranges and water and the hostelries along route were doing a raring trade. It was a lovely English summer evening and I was finally enjoying myself. I had no times to beat so I just ran. It was very up and down and there was a park with hills so steep that I had to walk up and down as my knees could not take the pounding on the way down. The course took you from the swim/bike transition to 2km from the finish and then almost all the way back and then back again. After 20 km I realized is was close on doing a sub 4 hour marathon. I started walking up a hill from a canal path with a guy called Richard. Of all the people to spend an hour with I found the only other Arabic speaker. We decided to walk for a while which turned into almost an hour as we discussed learning Arabic and the Middle East. Every now and again we started running. The feed stations along the route were great as you could stop with no guilt feeling and just eat. Pretzels, bananas, coke, Gatorade and water. I literally stuffed myself it was great. With 12 km to go the guy who was driving Richard back to London said he had to leave asap and he gave Richard one hour to finish. We started to run but I could not keep up with him, but I kept running and other for the hills coming off the canal path and in the park I didnít stop. I did the last 10km in under an hour. I was flying and passing loads of people. I felt great. Nothing hurt, I was going to finish and then the realization that I could potentially still do sub 15 hours. I ran my heart out. There was someone in the park still calling out my name. That made so much difference. I was out of the park through the streets and into the shopping centre and then turned the corner and saw my God daughter Catherine Martin, daughter of St Christopherís School teacher Steve Martin. She started to run with me, and for a while she pulled ahead but I was about to finish and I was then unbeatable. I sprinted the last 400 yards getting up to 18kph and suddenly I was on the red carpet with people cheering and then it was ďRory Adamson from Bahrain. You are an IronmanĒ.

There was only one person in the race I was in. Me. I won my race. 14 hours, 56 minutes and 44 seconds and I came first. I had hated most of it but winning makes everything seem ok.

My friends and family duly carted me off back to Manchester where I got one of the best hugs a wife can give, love, relief and respect. She had to go back with children and so missed the finish as I was too slow to finish at a sensible time.

There are lots of thank yous and these are very important to me. I canít order you in importance but firstly thank you TNT and Ahmed for transporting my bike from Bahrain to Manchester and back. Thank you to the guy at Harryís Cycles in Manchester who realized my front wheel was not securely fastened just before I left the shop.Thank you to the guy from Tri Central in Manchester who treated me as if I was going to finish despite my absurd amateur questions. Thank you to Richard whose company I enjoyed on the run and his friend who made us run the last 10k. Thank you to the Bahrain Road Runners (Khalifa and Adnan in particular) and the Awali Wheelers (Craig, Neil, Steve and Tim in particular but really all of you). Thank you to Ruth Tucker who completed an ironman a few months before me in a much faster time and gave me some great advice. Thank you to everyone from www.tritalk.co.uk. You people are the best. Thank you to Kittenkat from Runnersworld whose first race report gave me such motivation. Thank you to David Mantle, because anything you can do I can do, only slower. Thank you to the Gulf Daily News in Bahrain for making me out as some sort of celebrity Ė I am not, I am just like everyone else. Thank you to the Martin family for being there on the day and for Catherine to run those last hundred yards with me. Thank you to Robbie my nephew for getting up at 4 in the morning to drive me to Bolton and then spending the day supporting especially after a night out in Manchester. Thank you to Kirstie, my sister, for driving up from Bristol on the Saturday to support me on the Sunday knowing she would have to drive through the night on Sunday to get back to Bristol in time for the next day. Thank you to Walid my trainer who has seen me change from an overweight slouch to an ironman. I would never have got there without you Walid. Thank you to Ahmed who taught me, a piece of soft concrete, how to swim. Thank you to all the people who have donated so generously to the charities for whom I am raising money. Thank you to my business partners, Ian and James- I am back on the case now honest! Thank you to this guy from tritalk called Wiganer. His real name is Martin and he is a star. Thank to all the friends an relatives in the UK, Middle East and Malaysia who took such an interest in what I was doing.

I would like to add here how sorry I was for all those who did not finish for whatever reason. I was so close to joining you through the swim and the bike that I really feel for you.

Thank you Marina. I asked your permission to do this and you said yes. You had no idea what you had said yes to but you never complained and were always there when I needed solace and encouragement and recognition. Please rest assured I am not actually mad.

My first and last Ironman. I won in a time of 14 hours 56 minutes and 44 seconds. The other participants were not in my race. My race was me vs me and I won. We can all do what we want to do if we donít give up and sometimes we only fail if we give up.
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Nath




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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Epic. Simply epic.
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wiganer




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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That my friend sums up what makes IM so briliant......a fantastic report...

WELL DONE and we must have been so close together at points on that run.......I was lolloping along about 10mins behind you !!! Very Happy

and I have just realised I WON my race too !!! - Yeah - get in there !!! Very Happy
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Abu Zaki




Joined: 23 May 2009
Posts: 94
Location: Middle East

PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nath wrote:
Epic. Simply epic.


Thank you. It was and i could not have done it without all you guys and girls.
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Abu Zaki




Joined: 23 May 2009
Posts: 94
Location: Middle East

PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wiganer wrote:
That my friend sums up what makes IM so briliant......a fantastic report...

WELL DONE and we must have been so close together at points on that run.......I was lolloping along about 10mins behind you !!! Very Happy

and I have just realised I WON my race too !!! - Yeah - get in there !!! Very Happy


I am sure i passed you just before you did the final turnaround at the Crown. so i was a few minutes ahead of you then but Richard and I were in a running momnet and you cant stop those!! You really did make this for me Martin, thanks so much.

So does anyone think one can get hold of contact details of people we met on the race and only have their names? Would the organisers give out details or forward messages? I suppose i ought to contact them.
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willo46




Joined: 14 Aug 2009
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fantasic.
Something you remember for ever.
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Rooster




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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is possibly one of the best race reports I've ever read. Well done, mate. It puts a lot of things in perspective!

If you email the organiser, I'm sure they'll pass on your email to the people. When I did my first IM in Oz, I passed a girl spectating on the road side who I'd worked with 10 years earlier at summercamp in the USA and we'd lost contact. I felt really bad that I couldnt stop to chat but I was running the marathon at the time, after the race I got an email from her via the race organisers. Good luck, and well done again!
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Abu Zaki




Joined: 23 May 2009
Posts: 94
Location: Middle East

PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rooster wrote:
That is possibly one of the best race reports I've ever read. Well done, mate. It puts a lot of things in perspective!

If you email the organiser, I'm sure they'll pass on your email to the people. When I did my first IM in Oz, I passed a girl spectating on the road side who I'd worked with 10 years earlier at summercamp in the USA and we'd lost contact. I felt really bad that I couldnt stop to chat but I was running the marathon at the time, after the race I got an email from her via the race organisers. Good luck, and well done again!


and your reponses have now made dust fly into my eyes at last. Streaming! By the way Rooster you are now my motivation for next goal which is marathon based. If any of you want a quick marathon in February in the warmth. Bahrain is the place. But no 40-45 Ags allowed!
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veggieboy




Joined: 13 Jul 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

very dusty in here

I reckon that is just about the best race report I've ever read - fantastic


ps - bet you'll be back for more!
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MrsTricky




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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brilliant effort, brilliant report Worship

It's a bit dusty here too...
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OnTheRun




Joined: 13 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Top report there! Brings the big day back to me, thank you Smile
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Jonnyboy678




Joined: 28 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been lurking here for a long time (over a year) and have not posted before. Reading these reports are one of the things that really makes me want to take part in Triathlons next year.

This report was just amazing. Congratulations on your achievement.
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Toyota_Crown




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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

gumpf - your description of trying to train in Bahrain in prep for the race in Bolton is something else - well done m8 Cool
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tim63




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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There have been quite a few moving, inspirational reports but this has got to be right up there.

Fantastic story and achievement and really confirmed to me why I even attempt Ironman. My 2 finishes are similar times to yours without many of the trials and tribulations you came through.

I've just got to do another one next year now. Thank you.
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MoJon




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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 9:51 am    Post subject: Re: Abu Zaki's IMUK 2009 Race Report Reply with quote

Abu Zaki wrote:
I won in a time of 14 hours 56 minutes and 44 seconds. The other participants were not in my race. My race was me vs me and I won.


And that says it all! Most people forget this, the battle is with yourself, not anyone else

now for your next race with yourself..... how about an Ultra marathon Wink Twisted Evil
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