In summer 2004, more than 20 forum members pledged to take on Ironman Switzerland in July 2005 - that's a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile cycle and 26.2-mile run. Many of them were complete triathlon newbies at the time.
Since then, this forum tri team - christened Pirate Ship of Fools for their skull and crossbones kit - has encouraged, coached and goaded each other to new heights of endurance.
July 2005 update: All the long swims, rides and runs are behind the team; now they must avoid the temptation to do 'just one more training session' as they taper for the event. As the eve of the race draws near, it’s time for an honest appraisal of all their efforts, (you can see the weekly training thread here) and an equally forthright statement of their intent: dare they set themselves a definitive target, or is finishing inside the time limit enough?
The Count says he is hoping for a swim time of around 1:20. But, he adds: "I've found a new sport and new friends so regardless of what happens on July 17th it's been a great, if sometimes challenging, experience." Read on...
He's come to terms with his new-found love of tight lycra, but that's the least of Zilla’s worries. "I've had a few pirate pep talks from the old hands and my only aim now is to finish," he says. "I'm mildly terrified. My new mantra is: "There is a beer waiting for you at the end of this" (more worrying is that it's a non-alcoholic beer, but I don't care)." Read on…
Injury has hampered Monique's run training, but she's still optimistic. "Overall, I'm happy with the training, apart from the running," she says. "I think if all goes to plan I'll get my sub-12." Read on…
The youngest of the PSOF team, Garr is going to Switzerland to get a taste of Ironman racing, with a view to do more in the future. "My plan is to finish the Ironman with a nice fat cigar in hand, and go for decent times in future years as I reach my physical peak for such events," he says. Read on…
With his first multi-sport race win in the bag, and a beautiful new carbonfibre bike, Suffolk Punch is raring to go. "My anticipated finishing time will be around 14:30," he says.Read on…
What Is The Great Forumite Ironman Challenge?
More than 20 forumites and 10 supporters have put their names down for the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile cycle and 26.2-mile run, and another 20 are maybes. Training has been tough - especially for the two of them who couldn’t swim - but there was tons of forum support throughout the winter and spring.
Here's what forumite and unofficial coordinator Andy Collier (aka Candy Ollier) had to say in October:
"We had the idea of a 'forum outing' to an overseas Ironman, and Ironman Switzerland (on 17 July next year) was decided upon by common consent. There are some old hands doing it, and lots and lots of first timers (see panel to the right).
"One of the reasons Switzerland was chosen is that you don't have to commit yet, as it generally doesn't fill up until March. You can enter online at www.ironman.ch. The key thing is the training. I honestly believe that anybody with a decent running base (eg done a few half-marathons) can train-up in time for this, even if they just want to get round...
"Even if they can't swim yet (eg Cougie and Suffolk Punch)! But they need to start now [October/November], and they'll need to expect to put the hours in (10 a week at least over winter). Any 'first timer' who does it won't look back and say that IM Switzerland was the hardest thing they did in 2005. They'll say that training for it was.
"Specific advice, training program suggestions etc and support in abundance will be available on the thread.
"Logistically, we are planning to take over a campsite next to the run course (but of course there are hotels). There are already a few forum supporters going and of course lots of friends and families, so there should be a great party atmosphere. There will be a big party and BBQ the day after the race at the campsite, and the official Ironman Athletes' party that night.
"There are kids triathlons and mini triathlons (from super-sprint to Olympic distance) the day before the Ironman for supporters who want to have a go.
"Ironman is often seen as the ultimate one-day athletic endurance event, and for most people, completing one gives a sense of achievement that will last forever. Others become hooked and do loads. This is the ideal opportunity for anybody who is contemplating doing one, due to the number of first-timers doing it and the mutual support that will provide. There's nothing to beat seeing a friendly face on the run course."