Andy Lessiter's Big Woody (ooh er).

I’ve been asked if I would like to write a short article for the Matlock AC website briefly describing my recent long distance Ironman triathlon experience held on Sat 24th August 2013 called the Big Woody (I still don’t know why it is called the ‘Big Woody’ but can only guess.....there was a Little Woody as well)

More details can be found at :-

The distances involved were 3.8km swim, 106mile bike ride and then a 22mile run all within the beautiful Forest of Dean area.

The cycle was 6 miles shorter and the run 4 miles shorter than the standard long distance Ironman because the Big Woody course is described as undulating to hilly (which was a fairly accurate description!!!)

I followed a well structured, flexible training plan over a 20 week period :-

The flexibility in this plan suits a busy lifestyle because you can pick and chose the various sessions and mould them around a fulltime job, being a parent/husband and a lover of real ale.  Also, it didn’t matter if you missed a few sessions (which I did especially in the first 10 weeks) because you simply printed off the next one at the beginning of the following week and threw the old one in the bin thereby keeping you freshly motivated each week.  So long as you completed the ‘majority’ of the sessions with this particular plan then that is considered sufficient to get you round in a reasonable time.

Where it is important (apparently) to be quite disciplined with the training plan was in the final 6 weeks.  The realisation of what I had committed to in the later weeks ensured I followed it almost 100%.

A good friend of mine and known to many within the club, Chris Orridge, also entered the event.  Chris completed the Big Woody 4 years ago and his eagerness to enter it again convinced me that it would be achievable.  Either that or he has a short memory.  Having a training partner really helped, especially on some of the longer cycle sessions, the longest of which was 7 hours.

I chose to raise sponsorship for PACT (Parents Association of Children with Tumors and Leukemia) as they supported one of our close friends when their daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia.  This also gave me extra motivation during some of my weaker moments because I didn’t want to let anyone down.  The current total stands at approximately £500 (if you include the gift aid).

If anyone fancies donating a few quid to PACT then the link is :-

Now for some stats.  I completed the swim in 1.5 hrs (3.8km), the cycle in 7.5 (160km) hours and the run (33km) in 4 hours and came 26th out of 35 nutters.  (Apparently 50 people entered the event originally so quite a few didn’t turn up for whatever reason)


One of the weaker moments I referred to earlier was when I nearly overdosed on energy gels around 4 hours into the cycle and started to go hyperglycemic due to excessive glucose in the blood.  I hadn’t experienced this in training and so was a little worried.  I decided to stay of the energy gels and bars for about an hour.  That did the trick and I was ‘back in the zone’ again.  

big woody ironman finish 2.jpg - 413.05 KB

This picture says it all really.  Think my kids were happy I’d finished it.


Hope this article inspires more people to take on a long distance triathlon.  We all have an Ironman in us somewhere.



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