County heroes cheeered to end
12:47pm Wednesday 19th September 2012 in Sport
More than 40 athletes from Pembrokeshire have each claimed one of the world’s ultimate sporting accolades through their performances in Sunday’s stunning Ironman Wales 2012.
Their challenge began at first light and for many, was only completed by the time darkness had fallen.
They were amongst 1,326 competitors in the gruelling Tenby-based event featuring a 2.4kmiles swim, 112-mile cycle ride and a 26.2 mile marathon along one of the toughest Ironman courses on offer.
With the winning athletes - Sylvain Rota from France and Switzerland’s Regula Rohrbach - setting new course records as they took their first-ever Ironman titles, the prize for many of the locals was just to cross the finishing line before the cut-off time of midnight.
An excellent performance by Pembroke schoolteacher Daryl John of Saundersfoot saw him leading the local field with a finishing time of ten hours 51 minutes 56 seconds.
Tenby’s own pro athlete, Oliver Simon, who finished an overall 23rd in last year’s inaugural Ironman Wales, was forced by a foot injury to exit this year’s course in the marathon stage.
But despite this disappointment, he was among the crowds on the finishing line until late at night to cheer on his fellow athletes, including several who he has encouraged and inspired.
Among them was one of the youngest competitors, 22- year-old Billy Connor of Tenby, an Ironman Wales spectator last year and now an Ironman. “I couldn’t even swim ten months ago, but I‘ve had lessons with Ollie and I got out of the water in an hour and five minutes, which I‘m really pleased with,” said Billy, who completed the course in 13 hours 22 minutes 26 seconds.
Another 22-year-old Tenby athlete, Ben Griffiths, lined up alongside his uncle Nicky Rees and dad Simon Griffiths.
Mechanical engineer Ben, who hopes to raise £1,250 for the RNLI through his Ironman debut, completed the challenge in 11.38.36 after a race which saw him coming off his bike during the 67th mile of the course. “Watching the event last year really inspired me to take part,”
said Ben. “It feels great to be an Ironman —coming across at the finish was absolutely brilliant.”
Pembrokeshire results (in no particular order): Simon Batty, 13.51.00; David Allen, 14.20.24; Peter Malpas, 13.51.10; Daryl John, 10.51.56; Kevin Goldsworthy, 14.33.28; Nicola Coates, 14.49.22; Nicky Rees, 12.18.47; Paul Slack, 11.27.39; Carlton Coates, 13.34.56; Ben Griffiths, 11.38.36; Billy Connor, 13.22.26; Janina Evans, 16.02.13; Chris Johns, 12.54.27; Gareth Jones, 14.02.53; Nigel Merrony, 13.05.44; David Francis, 11.33.38; Tonia Forsyth, 12.16.10; Kim Harland, 13.26.08; Claudio Oliveira, 13.48.33; Stuart Rogers, 13.40.09; Malcolm Clash, 12.55.12; Garry Rhoades, 13.10.16; Ian Vickery, 12.28.12; Matthew Evans, 12.49.54; Steve Amos, 13.20.31; Simon Rossiter, 13.22.25; Clair Davies, 12.04.03; Nick Elliott, 12.27.34; Rob Barker, 12.45.49; Adrian Smith, 13.14.114; Catherine Marks, 13.01.48; Matt Mead, 13.27.39; Sian Williams, 12.43.45; Ryan Thomas, 11.54.56; Wayne Jenkins, 14.38.06; Tim Hoad, 12.16.17; Timothy Plumb, 14,26.46; Kyle Wallis, 12.54.12; Richard Graham, 13.26.50; Gareth Rees, 14.39.03.