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Ironman Wales 2016 report and gallery




Celebrations: The winning athletes on the podium (pic. Mike Hillen)

AS PEMBROKESHIRE greeted all of the athletes at yesterday’s (Sep 18) IRONMAN Wales with the kindest of conditions and phenomenal crowds the event has seen in its 6 year history, it was USA’s Darbi Roberts and Marc Duelsen of Germany who crossed the line victorious, claiming their maiden IRONMAN wins. 

In the men’s Pro field, 2016 welcomed Phil Graves (GBR) back to IRONMAN racing. Having been focused on short course racing since 2013, Graves knew it was a lottery as to how long he was going to be able to hold off any strong charges from behind. 

Graves led from the swim with Daniel Niederreiter (AUT), closely followed by Karl Johan Danielson (SWE).  Knowing he had to make his ground on the bike, Graves made his move from the 38km marker and by the time he headed into T2 had built up a 4.5 minute lead on the chasing athletes Duelsen, Niederreiter and Nick Baldwin (SEY), who had worked his way up to 2nd place.

Marc by his own admission knew that the run was where it was make or break, having to claw back  lost ground on Graves. Finally by the 35km marker on the spectator filled run course, Duelsen had closed down the gap and with Graves unable to cling on, Duelsen steadily pulled away to cross the finish line to claim his inaugural IRONMAN in a time of 09:01:39. It was close all the way to the finish line, with just a minute separating the two and a testament to Graves true grit, having only run up to 21km in recent weeks. 

An elated Duelsen commented on his victory: “The event was really amazing – I’ve never seen such a hard bike and run course and it’s incredible to win here. I never expected to come to wales with my first podium and first victory. The crowds were the best I’ve ever seen and I’m so pleased.”

It was third time lucky for Nick Baldwin who returned to his favourite race for the 3rd consecutive year and this year didn’t disappoint, earning himself a strong podium position, whilst soaking up the indescribable atmosphere, created by the passionate Pembrokeshire spectathletes. 

In the women’s Pro race, Darbi Roberts put the pressure on early with a top swim alongside GBR’s Kate Comber, but then appeared out of contention on the bike, which was dominated by long course specialist Jeanne Collange from France, who quickly moved to the front and then seemed to disappear with a comfortable 7 minute cushion. 

Only Diana Riesler could stay in contention into T2. However half way through the challenging marathon course, Riesler pulled out through exhaustion. Meanwhile Roberts was charging through the women’s field and eventually took the lead towards the end of the last lap, crossing the line to claim her first victory in a time of 10:00:17. Collange dug deep and gave everything she had to hold onto 2nd place, while Nikki Bartlett celebrated her first IROMAN as a pro with a dream third place, also capitalising on a strong run.  
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(pics. Mike Hillen)
Darbi, flying in from home town NYC solely for today’s race, said, “I’ve been working really hard on improving my bike as I haven’t had a great season this year and it finally paid off. I felt surprisingly good on the run and am just so pleased it all came together today. The support throughout the course was the most amazing I’ve ever seen at an IRONMAN, and they definitely carried me around.”

The endless praise from all the athletes on the finish line was for the legendary crowds out on the course, from the moment they made the 1km walk through the town in darkness for the 7:10 am swim start, right through to the 17 hour cut off 12.30am. Fancy dress, home made signs, clappers and house parties, the spectator sights and sounds literally carried the athletes throughout the 140.6 mile course to the finish arch on of the iconic red carpet. 

Former Welsh Rugby internationals Ryan Jones and Ian Gough were amongst the 47% of athletes tackling an IRONMAN for the first time, having been recruited by team mate Shane Williams. 

Gough, last of the rugby trio to cross the line in an impressive time of 13:19:55 said,“That was brilliant, horrible and savage – it was a complete emotional roller coaster and think I’ve been through every emotion – I even cried! That was definitely the toughest thing I’ve ever experienced, but all the way around, the support was unbelievable. I kept seeing Shane and Ryan pass me with more lap bands than me so I knew they were ahead, but I’m really pleased to have made it across the finish line – and within my 14 hour target.” 

Amongst the 1700 competitors who started the race, were athletes of all ages between 19 – 70 who had entered for a whole variety of reasons, with many fundraising for hugely worthy causes including official charities Scope and Macmillan Cancer Research. Whilst many of the seasoned triathletes were looking for an early qualification for the 2017 IRONMAN World Championship, Kona. 

Supporting the athletes out on the course as well as greeting each and everyone on the finish line was The Mayor of Tenby, Cllr Laurence Blackhall as well as Chair of Pembrokeshire County Council, Tony Brindson. 

Commenting on the finish line The Mayor of Tenby said: “What an absolutely fantastic event and it’s been brilliant to have so many people out supporting the athletes. The reality is Pembrokeshire loves IRONMAN and IRONMAN loves Pembrokeshire! We’re really glad to be the home of IRONMAN Wales.”

Kevin Stewart, Managing Director of IRONMAN UK & Ireland commented:“Once again Pembrokeshire created a stunning atmosphere for all our athletes tackling the toughest IRONMAN in the world. We‘d like to thank all of the authorities, spectators and volunteers for their continued support of the event and for their outstanding contribution towards making this event such a success for all our athletes.”
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(pics. Mike Hillen)
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Pembrokeshire Leisure welcomes back school swimming



PEMBROKESHIRE Leisure is welcoming back school swimming lessons around the county for the first time since March 2020.

Swimmers from over 20 schools will be attending in their class bubbles to enjoy learning vital water competency skills in Pembrokeshire Leisure’s six swimming pools.

In a county which is surrounded by beautiful beaches and coastline, being safe in and around water is a potentially life-saving skill.

The programme of school swimming lessons helps to achieve the Welsh national priority that every child is a swimmer by the time they leave primary school.

The National Curriculum requirement which has been designed in line with this is that every key stage 2 child should be able to:

  • Swim 25 metres with clothes on (shorts and t-shirt), then tread water for 30 seconds and demonstrate an action for getting help and move into the Heat Escape Lessening Position (H.E.L.P)
  • Demonstrate a shout and signal action to attract attention.

The first school to return was Ysgol Glannau Gwaun at Fishguard Leisure Centre and there are now 20 primary schools which will be attending swimming lessons around Pembrokeshire.

On Monday 14 th June, Coastlands County Primary School attended and their Head Teacher Sonja Groves said: “We are delighted to finally get back to swimming after such a long time away. The children were so happy to be back in the water learning and enjoying. Swimming is a vital life skill which helps to keep the children of Pembrokeshire safe in and around all types of water.”

Leisure Services Manager Gary Nicholas said: “It is fantastic to be able to safely welcome back school swimming to our facilities. Primary school aged children have missed over a years’ worth of swimming lessons and Pembrokeshire Leisure are committed to supporting the aim of every child a swimmer by age 11.

“We will continue to do this by delivering quality school swimming lessons following the Swim Wales Nofio Ysgol programme, using the Free Swimming Initiative to provide targeted sessions for the most deprived swimmers and by continuing to provide swimming lessons at all sites in our Learn to Swim programme.”

For more information about how you can book your child swimming lessons and support their journey to becoming a competent swimmer, contact your local leisure centre.

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Landmarc flies the flag at local training camp to celebrate Armed Forces Week



TO CELEBRATE Armed Forces Week 2021 and the contribution made by local military personnel, Landmarc Support Services (Landmarc) has raised the Armed Forces Day flag at Castlemartin Training Area in Pembrokeshire.

Following an unprecedented year for the UK’s troops as they responded to the challenges raised by the pandemic, Landmarc, which manages the UK Defence Training Estate in partnership with Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), wanted to extend an extra special thank you, by flying the official Armed Forces Day flag at military training estates across the UK, including local camp, Castlemartin.

Landmarc employees were joined by Armed Forces personnel and staff from DIO to witness the raising of the flag, where it will fly proudly until Armed Forces Week comes to a close on the 28th of June.

This Armed Forces Week, Landmarc has pledged its support and sponsorship of Team Emotive in its mission to complete one of the world’s most difficult ocean rowing challenges – the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – all in the name of raising money for mental health charity, Veterans at Ease.

Made up of four Armed Forces veterans, including one Landmarc employee, Team Emotive is preparing to travel 3,000 miles from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua. Rowing two hours on, two hours off for forty days, this challenge will push the team to its limits both physically and mentally. 23 rd June 2021

In addition, Landmarc has also announced its official partnership with the Armed Forces charity, SSAFA, working together to support veterans as they transition into civilian life.

Mark Neill, Managing Director at Landmarc, comments: “Each year, every one of us at Landmarc gives thanks to our troops during this special week. As part of the 25 per cent of veterans and reservists that make up Landmarc’s workforce, I know first- hand how important this event is for morale within the Forces community.

“It’s always fantastic to see so many people and organisations come together each year for Armed Forces Week, but the events of the last fifteen months have heightened our gratitude. The efforts from our servicemen and women have been immense and impossible to ignore in the nation’s fight against COVID-19; with our own staff working alongside the military to support the demands of the training estate as it hosts troops from across the country.”

For more information on Landmarc Support Services, please visit

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Endurance runner tackles Pembrokeshire Coast



ENDURANCE runner Sean Conway has successfully completed his epic series of marathons in the UK’s National Parks.

On Thursday, June 17, Sean tackled the Pembrokeshire coast, running from Newport to Dinas Head and back, fuelled by sports nutrition brand ‘Grenade’.

Sean, who is from North Wales, has ran the length of Britain before but says this was the longest stretch of days where he has had to constantly do a marathon every day.

Speaking of his run in Newport, Sean said: “It was so hilly. Honestly, the weather was amazing. It wasn’t too hot and there were some nice views along the way. At Dinas Head, it was amazing looking down at the lagoons and there are some amazing rock formations.”

He took six hours to complete his marathon but there was little time for recovery as he moved on to his final run in Snowdonia the day after.

“This was my second-last marathon so my body was feeling pretty battered and I’ve had to do it fully self-supported so I was doing one run out then back to the car and then out again”, Sean added.

“With covid we’ve all been staying at home more so I wanted to show off how amazing the National Parks are.

“There will be more of us visiting as restrictions are eased but we don’t want to ruin it by being silly.”

Sean was provided with his nutrition for the runs by Grenade and he said he ‘would not have been able to survive without them’.

In the morning he would have an energy drink which contained vitamins and electrolites and he would also mix this in with his water for some of his runs.

Sean would also have protein bars to give him an extra boost as he tried to keep on top of his protein intake.

“Pembrokeshire was so scenic. When I announced the runs this was the run that stood out online and I was really looking forward to doing it. We’ll definitely be coming back soon” Sean concluded.

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