IT is the extreme endurance race that makes running a marathon look like child’s play.
Now the Ultraman contest is coming to North Wales – and the UK’s sole competitor is already getting in shape.
Building firm boss Nick Thomas has a year to prepare for the invitation-only race, taking place at Lake Bala and Snowdonia.
Nick, 39, is putting in 25 hours of running, swimming and cycling training a week on the road and at the gym in Wrexham.
And the father-of-two, who is 6ft 3” but weighs just over 12-and-a-half stone, is right to put in the work.
Taking place on rugged terrain over three days, Ultraman requires the competitors to swim for 10km and ride a bike for 90 miles on day one, followed by a 180-mile bike ride on day two and then a double marathon on the last day.
The top competitors from the 35-strong field in Wales will go forward to the world championships in Hawaii, where Ultraman started.
Nick, who runs NJT Construction and lives in Ellesmere, trains at Total Fitness on Stansty Road, Wrexham.
He is a veteran of tame-by-comparison Ironman events, having taken part 17 in five years.
However, while this is a massive step up, he says he is not daunted.
“I like a new challenge and I’m really looking forward to it,” said Nick, whose best-ever result was 18th out of 1,600 competitors in the 2008 Ironman race in Lanzarote, regarded as the toughest in the world.
“Nothing really beats me, so I’m confident I can achieve a good result. Also, as it’s so far away, I’m going to be very prepared, and I’ll still be doing the Ironman events. Most people only do one a year, but I average three or four.”
Nick’s training regime is mind-boggling, including five or six runs a week ranging from eight miles to 23 miles just before an event, and 300 miles a week on the bike and one and a half hours in the pool four days a week.
On top of that, in the gym, he lifts weights for building strength and uses the rowing machine and the treadmill. It’s all a far cry from the way Nick, who is also chairman of Tri-smart running club in Ellesmere, used to live.
On holiday in Lanzarote 12 years ago he was photographed diving off a boat, and the resulting picture shocked him.
He said: “I had a belly and my shorts were half down my backside – not a pretty sight.
“I was building up my business with my wife, working all the hours God sends, and any spare time was spent relaxing on holiday.
“I was five stone overweight. Apart from doing the odd walk I was doing no exercise and I’d hated running at school.”
When he got back from holiday he bought a bike and started running – and he’s not stopped since.
So will he be nervous for Ultraman?
“Not really, but I suspect my family will be, because they worry when I’m out on the bike.
“They think that I could get knocked off and get seriously injured, because you never know what’s round the bend on those narrow Welsh roads.”
Ultraman takes place from September 3-5 next year.
For more details go to www.ultramanlive.com.
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