David Fletcher Long Course Weekend Athlete 2017!
I am sure you all remember David Fletcher and his story we shared a few months back, in case you missed it click HERE..
It is a must read if your in need of a little motivation or inspiration!
David has battled against cancer and won 5 x times, and has had his sights set on taking on the Long Course Weekend for quite some time, having to defer entries due to his cancer battles!
2017 was the year it seemed David would be able to become a LCW athlete. With his most recent battle behind him and his health on the rise the event got closer. David’s fitness levels soared and the trip down to Pembrokeshire was creeping closer and the iconic 4 medals were within his reach!
We caught up with David to ask about how he prepared and how he and his family were feeling in the run up to Long Course Weekend 2017.
His Fiance Angie had agreed after 3 years of watching the Long Course Weekend on the TV with David that he just had to do the whole weekend and become a full LCW athlete!
David was warned by doctors during his last diagnosis and recover that deferring his 2016 entry to 2017 was not logical, that he was not thinking realistically but David had other plans and his mind was made up. He was given the all clear and training began…
‘From my first run at the end of October, everything second of training was for this event. I set a target to run the Manchester Marathon in April and smashed it with a finishing time of 3 hours 28 – my running was in the bank!’
David had a crazy amount of support from his family especially his partner Angie who understood the amount of training that David needed to do and made sure it was possible for him to throw his whole self into it. Angie made sure David meals were ready and baths run so not one training session was missed and when he wanted to miss one she would remind him of what he was doing this for, keeping him focused and on the count down.
It was so clear when meeting both David and Angie that this meant as much to her as it did for him – she was bursting with pride and excitement before the weekend had even begun!
David and Angie have been engaged for 13 years – the couple are set to Marry in August this year! David celebrated his stag-do in Majorca, strictly for ‘training purposes’, he trained on the mountains of Majorca cycling 70 miles a day on a hangover with limited sleep (it was his stag after all), in the 30+ degree heat David described it as perfect preparation.
So at this point his training was on track, Run: check! Cycle: check! Swim: umm…this was David’s hurdle, with only a few sea swims under his training belt due to a fear of the choppy sea, panic began to set in.
Long Course Weekend 2017 had arrived, 8,500 athletes descended upon Tenby and David was one of them!
Within an hour of arriving in Tenby David was contacted by a film crew wanting to document his Long Course Weekend experience, which will spread Davids personal motto ‘I’ve got to give others hope!’
The Wales Swim/Swim Day of the Long Course Weekend was here, the part of the weekend David dreaded and wanted over with so he could set about the disciplines he knew he was prepared for.
But luck was on David’s side the usually choppy water of Tenby was calm and as still as a pond, but with that atmosphere and the years of build up David has had for this day it was almost impossible for him to not feel nervous.
‘I stared to feel nervous as soon as I put my wetsuit on, I thought “that’s it, I’ve got to go in now.” Just as the swim was about to start over the tannoy came “is David Fletcher in the Penn? Can you put your hand up David, David had to defer last year as he was diagnosed with Cancer for the 5th time, but he is now well enough to take part in The Long Coursed Weekend this year.” Every athlete clapped, even the supporters on the cliffs. That was a magical feeling and brings a tear to my eye even now.
The first lap of the swim went amazing, I had planned to have a breather between laps but with the crowd roaring you on, how can you stop?! I thought to myself the first lap seemed pretty quick but with about 1,300m to go of the second lap my legs started to cramp, oh dear, I’m going to have to use my mental strength already. I had come this far there was no way I was letting cramp stop me. Forget your legs, just use your arms I said to myself and sang to myself “just keep swimming, just keep swimming” – anyway that made me smile and I did just that!”
David hoped for a swim time of 1:25, dreamed of a time of 1:20, turned around the corner to the finish line to an astonishing time of 1:16 which he calls a sensational feeling.
The Wales Sportive/Bike Day of the long course weekend came on next on Saturday and the only worry David had was his ‘rickety old bike’, the Majorcan Moutains had him fully prepared for the hilly Pembrokeshire course. During a quick feed station stop David’s back wheel came off, without even realising it was loose, it a relief it came off once he had stopped, with the wheel back on he cracked on, mile 90 saw David’s bottle cage come loose and prove unwilling to tighten, this fell and left him unable to pedal he grabbed his bottle and snapped off the cage with a fast turn of the pedal.
Against all odds David finished The Wales Sportive with a time of 6:12!
The Wales Marathon/Run Day of The Long Course Weekend…
Although David is a confident runner with much experience, in the month prior to Long Course Weekend he states he only ran around 30 miles!
‘I underestimated the course. It was brutal. The hills were never ending and the heat was draining my energy sources. I was doing ok until mile 19, the last 7 miles were the hardest and most draining 7 miles I have ever endured during a running race. I think I walked up most of those hills during that 7 miles and that’s not me, I don’t walk ever!
Then the hill into Tenby where the support was mental helped me up that one. I finished in 3:38 which I was happy with, it was the hardest running race I have ever done in my life but what a GREAT challenge!’
David is now a Full Long Course Weekend 2017 Athlete finishing with an overall time of 11:06 and 43rd place, 30 minutes faster than he had planned and rounding off an amazing weekend by crossing the finish line hand in hand with his partner Angie and son Lee. David describes the feeling as a buzz but very emotional, considering what they had all been through to get to that point, David couldn’t deserve that 4th medal around his neck more!
What’s next for David?
‘I have given myself two goals, since being little I have always wanted to run a sub 3hr Marathon and my other goal is to qualify as a GB age grouper in Duathlon.
At the moment i am in the process of trying to find a sponsor that could help me purchase a TT bike, something that would put me on a level playing field with the other competitors, I think I have been handicapped enough don’t you? These goals may be out of reach but the doctors told me that The Long Course Weekend was out of read and we all know how that ended! Game on.’