Bolton Fan Ste Tackling 2nd IronMan For Parky
Our good friend, Stephen Bate, will take on his second IRONMAN in Bolton this Sunday, with all the proceeds he raises going directly to the Gary Parkinson Trust.
The gruelling triathlon-style event sees competitors complete a 2.4-mile swim at Pennington Flash in Leigh, a 112-mile bike ride around the surrounding areas of Bolton and Bury, before running a marathon through the streets of Bolton.
Ste said, "I am as daft as I look! It seems as though I can’t resist the challenge.
"The day is fantastic, with over 100,000 spectators estimated to be across the course throughout the day, all passing personal messages of support and encouragement.
"It’s an incredible atmosphere from 6am when we get started to 11pm when the last finisher crosses the lines.
"After my legs recovered first time round, I wanted that experience again!
The event kicks off in the early hours of the morning for the swim, although Ste admits, with a change of course this year, he'd be happy to beat his previous attempt of 15 hours.
"I honestly don’t know how long this race will take. The swim is my strongest discipline and I expect it to take around an hour to one hour and 10 mins.
"The bike course has shifted from last year, with the new one taking us up 6000+ ft of climbing.
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"I don’t really know what effect that will have on me for the marathon. I do aspire to still beat my time first time round of 15hrs - anything below will be a huge bonus given the new course."
Ste famously took on the epic #Challenge26 for Parky across 2014 and 2015, which included 26 different challenges ranging from marathons, half marathons, 10K runs, triathlons, swims and gruelling obstacle courses similar to Tough Mudder.
As a family friend for over 25 years, Ste says he'll be using Parky as motivation when the going gets tough on Sunday.
"Gary is a long standing family friend and like many, you do everything within your control to help a friend in need.
"Unlike larger charities the Trust doesn’t get exposure to the volume of fundraising opportunities, yet the funds raised remain absolutely vital to Gary’s rehabilitation, so when it came down to picking a cause, it was a no brainier for me.
"Having grown up with Gary’s son Luke, with a shared passion for football, we spent many summers together playing round each other’s houses - so I’ve known Gary from a really young age.
"Moving through school he coached a (hugely successful!) year 6 team that we were in and always featured as spectator on the sidelines throughout secondary school too.
"But, above all are the memories of Christmas Eve's spent laughing at both our dads as they got more and more drunk before the midnight mass!"
Drink has been off the agenda for Ste in the last few months though, as he prepares for a challenge that few of us would even think about once, never mind twice.
"I’m fitter than I’ve ever been physically, my blocks have been 6 weeks each with heavier focus placed on the run for this year which is what I want to improve from first time round.
"In recent weeks though as the fatigue has set in before tapering down and recouping energy, it’s been really tough, not physically, but mentally.
"It goes without saying that training for an IRONMAN isn’t easy. When your training 10 - 12 hours a week on average, finding the drive to get up and go for your next session can be tough in between work and general life.
"It’s definitely a state of mind to overcome, especially when it's raining and you're faced with a long bike session at 7am. The easier option of a lie in at weekend is really inviting.
"Training for an IRONMAN isn’t something you commit to half halfheartedly, it does have to become a way of life - particularly for the last few months leading up to race day.
"All in all though, I’m as prepared as I can be!"
Everybody at the Gary Parkinson Trust would like to pass on our best wishes to Ste for the big day.
If anybody would like to come down and support Ste during the day, we will be pitched up in the morning at the junction of Fall Birch Road and Chorley New Road (just before Bolton Golf Club).
Or you can track Ste online (race number 662) on the day, through the IRONMAN website.