Blog - Page 3 of 17 - Phil Cox


One more donation for Team 14!

It seems like an age since the Team 14 Ironman at the end of August, a few more donations have come in and the event seems to have come to a natural end. However, there was one more donation received last week, a rather large and unexpected amount!

We are lucky in Wantage, there are a lot of people who give their time to raising funds for local and national causes. As with all small towns, most people know most people and word gets about quickly whether you want it to or not.  Only last week I was asked to set up a turbo trainer in the Cancer Research shop to do an all-day spin in December, I’m not sure they realise just how sweaty it will get but I’m happy to help! We have a good network of people with all sorts of different skill sets.

There is one stand-out fundraiser in the town; he has perfected the knack of relieving people of their cash for good causes and getting word out about deserving charities and events. If he’s not doing a personal challenge, he is arranging events such as a dinner for the old folk at Christmas or reviving the town’s carnival. Ray Collins will stop at nothing when it comes to fund raising; he works tirelessly giving up weekends and holidays to get things done.

Ray was keen to ensure local charities benefitted from funds raised at this year’s Wantage Carnival: The Beatbox, Yellow Submarine and the Churchill Hospital all received donations.

Ray knew of the Team 14 Ironman and had also heard of the 14 Club, he called me and announced that he was donating some money from the carnival to my cause. More than happy with this, I popped in the shop where he works to ‘collect a small cheque’. Well, the cheque was small in size but the amount printed on it was £800 – an unbelievable figure and one which took our fund raising to £3,500.



I am very grateful to Ray for his donation, it means that the 14 Club can cover costs for a whole year and continue with their work benefitting local people with a learning disability. Check out their website at

If you ever fancied doing an Ironman, have a look at the planning and preparation that went into the Team 14 event here.

Lastly, if you have a few quid spare, please consider donating to the 14 Club via my Make-a-Donation page, it will make a difference to those that need it.

Further reading…..

If you liked this blog please take a moment to check out my book describing the solo Land’s End to John O’Groats ride in 2012, all profit from sales to

Please click the cover image for the Kindle version or click here to order a paperback copy. Thank you!

Read More

Ironman complete and fund raising going well!

It’s been nearly two weeks since the Ironman, I was under the false impression that things would calm down once it was out of the way but I couldn’t have been more wrong. There have been a number of administration tasks to sort out plus I started training again on the bank holiday Monday, there hasn’t been time to breath.

The morning of 28th August started very early at 5am, I needed to eat and make sure that I was happy with my kit. We had spent most of the previous day delivering trestle tables and items of kit to the gym so there was little to do. My bike was already checked and loaded into the car, I just needed to run one last check before the swim started and we would be ready to go.

Kevin William’s at Wantage Leisure Centre had kindly agreed that I could have a lane to myself for the swim, they couldn’t have been more accomodating as we set up. I spent five minutes warming up in the pool’s plant room, we had agreed to use this for the transition as it avoided going through the changing rooms and out the main door. I could get changed here and leave my bike safely, another worry avoided. I got into the pool at 6:55 and swam 100m very slowly just to get things moving.  Ben was counting off the lengths to make sure I completed the distance, he gave me the nod at 7am, I pushed off for the first length.

We’d broken the swim down into 6 blocks of 26 lengths, a total of 156 lengths of the 25m pool. I took the first two blocks easily but went a little too hard on the third block. The tapering of the last week had left me full of beans; there was a temptation to really get the engine going as a result. The fourth block went back to a more measured pace, well within my threshold.  The last two blocks saw a gradual increase in pace, I finished feeling comfortable and knowing I could have gone harder for the swim, I wanted to be safe in the knowledge that I had left enough in the tank for the row. Total swim time was just under 1 hour and 13 minutes – no stops.

A short video of the last length can be seen here.

I carefully levered myself out of the pool to avoid any calf cramp, this had been dogging me in training but seemed to have cleared up over the last couple of weeks.  I mitigated the onset of cramp by eating bananas (increased potassium) and staying well hydrated, Adam Dobson of Revolution Sports Injuries had lent me his pair of calf sleeves which also seemed to help nicely. I left those on for the duration of the day. Sarah Penney had found her way into the plant room so I asked her to turn her back as I changed poor soul.

I emerged into bright sunlight to be greeted by a number of riders ready to set off on the 112 mile bike leg. We had arranged a peloton beforehand, it seemed like a good way to get others involved and raise the profile of the event plus it was company for me. Steve Penney and I had spent a couple of hours putting out signage for the route two days prior to the event; we knew the loops backwards by the time we started to pedal! The wind was slightly higher than I would have liked but people made sure they took turns at the front, everyone was willing to do their slot and the ride passed quickly.

The feed station at the gym was manned by my wife and kids, they made a load of flapjack (slightly over-catered I would say!) and we had had a generous donation of food from Alison Wright. Steve had provided a water bowser which contributed to a very professional looking set up. Our pace was quicker than I had panned at 16.5mph so we soaked up some of the saved time by chatting and eating a lot at the end of each loop; it was very sociable and simply good to be riding with friends and supporting a great cause. A big thank you to those that gave up their Friday to ride on the day:

Malcolm Heavens, Steve Penny, Nobby, Andy Norman, Sean Liu, Richard Sheppard of Bikelux, Nigel Bedfords, Sarah Fogden, Nicola Bateman and Carl Salmon.

Bikelux of Newbury was supporting the event by providing energy products for me and also their mobile mechanic for the day. The poor chap (also called Richard) was there all day without a single mechanical; I bet we would have had issues if he wasn’t around though. A huge thanks to Bikelux for wanting to be involved, check out their website or go and visit the shop

The final loop was half the distance of the main loop and finished quickly, some of The 14 Club volunteers turned up to welcome the riders back and be part of the photographs. Once we had eaten a little bit more food, it was into the gym to start the row.

TFD Gym in Grove have been brilliant since we started to discuss the event back in January, they have been very relaxed about us bringing in our bits and pieces and also welcoming those who were prepared to do a bit of rowing in support. The idea was to entice people to sign up for a distance or an amount of time and make a small donation, these lucky folk were then entered into a draw for a Waitrose voucher and a bespoke printed sports bottle. The latter prize was kindly donated by Khush at, they have some really funky bike products, check them out because if you like bikes you’ll want to be aware of this site! I’m the proud owner of two unique headset caps each with a design of my own choosing, completely bespoke and beautifully machined. Might be in the market for some bar ends soon!

Riders and crew!


We grabbed Emily after her workout (sorry) – she designed the Team 14 Logo!

The row went well and the stretch breaks every 5km had the desired effect. The total distance was 42,195m or 26.2 miles. There was no way that I could run a proper marathon with my dodgy knees, rowing seemed a challenging alternative. Things started to get a little sticky at the 10km to go mark, there was a bit of suffering up to 5km to go, a couple of gels and a load of pain killers seem to make the last 5km’s relatively bearable. The pace was sedate at 2:20/500m, hardly any lungs involved although the glute pain was significant. Stretching mitigated this to a point but the last 10km was difficult all the same. I finished the row in 3:40 (including the stretch breaks), the whole event had taken 13 hours and 20 minutes (again, this included all the breaks and stops at the bike tent).

I though the end would be a little emotional but it didn’t turn out like that, once I had released the foot straps and carefully stood up, it felt like an anti-climax. Jason had provided motivation from the rower next to mine for the last 14km’s which helped enormously.  I think training on my own had sometimes been very boring  with the end never really in sight, with plenty of people around the distance seemed to slip by, before I knew it that was it, all done.

I spent a bit of time on the roller but couldn’t really be bothered to stretch properly. The event was very low intensity, just long so I wasn’t too sore on the Saturday and Sunday. Sleep on the Friday night eluded me a bit, I guess I was still wired from the day, Saturday night’s rest was fantastic, out for the count!

A massive thanks to all those who supported me as I rowed:

Kate Sullivan, Grace, Jo O’Halloran, Sam Cox, Harriet Cox, Ben Cox, Liz Snook, Daphne, Jason Auchinvole, Carl Salmon.

To date, we have raised over £2,600 and the total continues to rise. I couldn’t have done this without the help of many people, especially my family and Steve Penney. I’ve been selfish around training, regularly turning down rides with friends so I can stick to my program but they all understood. I guess I know a lot of good people.

Now, I wonder what to do next…..



It is still possible to sponsor me, please visit my donation page here. Your money will be used to help The 14 Club of Wantage continue to help people with learning disabilities, thank you.


The Team 14 Ironman was supported by:


Further reading…..

If you liked this blog please take a moment to check out my book describing the solo Land’s End to John O’Groats ride in 2012, all profit from sales to

Please click the cover image for the Kindle version or click here to order a paperback copy. Thank you!




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Ironman organisation stepping up….

The 28th August is getting closer and there is still a large amount of things to sort out before the day, at least training has started to taper down which is freeing up more time to deal with things.

I met with Richard (Bikelux) last week to go through the details regarding their mobile mechanic and the feeding station. Richard kindly supplied some gels to try, I bolted two down on a longish row recently, all seemed good and no dreaded stomach upset. He is doing his best to engage local media to cover the day, BBC South Today have shown a flicker of interest; it would be a real coup if we could get some TV coverage.

For those riders who ordered a shirt, they have arrived and I have started to hand them out. They will make for a great picture on the day and it’s a nice way to acknowledge and thank the events sponsors. Thank you to all those riders who bought a shirt, we have raised a further £35 as a result, I will put this on the Make a Donation page when I get a moment.

The bike route will be set up on Wednesday, 26th August; Steve Penney has kindly agreed to drive round the course so we can put the laminated signs up. The riders have all been sent an entry pack along with an emergency use paper map. Once the route is set I will be a lot happier and can relax a little.

I’ve also met with Kevin from Wantage Sports Centre to finalise details for the swim. I will be allocated a roped off lane and will be able to exit the pool through the plant room, this is useful as I can change into my cycling gear. Having tested out the cheap tri-suit I own, I don’t think it wold last the distance and I have to protect my modesty of course.

Ben and I will be doing a dry run of all of the tasks required for the day: transitions, clearing up gear and setting things up for the feed station and row. We want to make sure there are no surprises especially with regard to transitions and equipment/clothing.

All I have to concentrate on now is raising the profile of the event, encouraging more donations and making sure the taper is effective. If you would like to sponsor me, please click here.

Oh yes, I need to avoid getting ill too……roll on 28th!

Further reading…..

If you liked this blog please take a moment to check out my book describing the solo Land’s End to John O’Groats ride in 2012, all profit from sales to

Please click the cover image for the Kindle version or click here to order a paperback copy. Thank you!

Read More

Half Ironman done….plenty to note and learn from.

With less than a month to go before the Ironman, my schedule called for a half Ironman to evaluate how all the elements of the event would hold together and, more importantly, how effective my training had been. Sunday, 2nd August just happened to be free.

The plan for the day was:

Start 8am

45 minute swim

64 mile ride

22,500m row

I thought it would be interesting to compare the numbers for the full Ironman:

1:15 swim (3,900m or 156 lengths of Wantage pool)

112 mile ride

42,195m row

I was unable to swim in the pool at Wantage Leisure Centre so I used the endless pool at TFD Gym. It’s not my favourite type of pool, but it served a purpose. I swam continuously (i.e. no turns or rest) and cranked up the pace for the last 10 minutes. I wanted to enter each new leg slightly fatigued to see if this raised any issues. The strength and conditioning work over the last 7 months has paid off a lot in the pool, just need to work on better technique!

The transition from swim to bike was fine, no niggling aches and pains as a result of going from one discipline to another. I was fortunate to have Carl riding with me; it certainly helped the time go. We used the loop planned for the main event; each loop is 32.5 miles in total so we went round twice. Details of the ride can be found here thanks to Carl’s Garmin.

The ride flagged up a number of issues which will help the day itself. Our pace on the first lap was good, too good in fact. The second lap was a little slower and the hills felt a bit more severe. Even splits will be the order of the day; it’s vitally important to do as much of the event within my comfort zone to be in the right place at 10 hours to go on and complete.

It will be crucial to stick to my pace plan and ignore others, as much as this galls me because I enjoy the social aspect of riding with a group.

I pressed up Compton Beauchamp hill like I would on a training ride: seated and generating power through smooth, ‘push, pull’ pedalling technique. This is very energy hungry so I will get out of the saddle for this hill to save my legs on each of the loops. I tweaked the right Vastis Medialis in my quads too, nothing major (more like muscle soreness) but I can feel it climbing. The lesson was: ‘don’t push too hard!’

Timing the stops will be essential because it’s easy to lose 10 minutes chatting and eating etc. I have no desire to be on the course longer than I have to!

Drink, eat, drink, eat, drink, eat….an absolute must.  I have also resolved to take a gel on laps 2 and 3 10 minutes before Compton Beauchamp hill. This will mean I can take a third gel during the row without worrying about stomach problems (I hope). Four gels is unknown territory for me so I won’t be trying my luck on the day.

Carl and I arrived back at the gym around 1pm, I grabbed my food bag for the row, got changed and got on with it. My back was aching from the effort I’d put into the climbs on the bike, this eased a bit once I had settled into the row but I popped some Ibuprofen anyway. I stayed with the plan for the row:

Start 42,195m counting down (the Concept 2 rower has a marathon setting)

At 35,000m stretch

Stretch every 5,000m thereafter

Finish at 19,695m

Every time I row long I want to replicate what I will be seeing on the computer and ingrain the stretching breaks; one of the key training principles: specificity!

I noted that the glute pain I typically feel on the left hand side came on sooner than normal. I did not stretch before I started to row so that has been added to the plan for the day. Energy and hydration levels were all good; the mounting mechanical pain in my backside will make things a lot more miserable on 28th August but I expect this to happen so I can cope with it.

The pace was quicker than I have planned for the day, the positive news being that it wasn’t a problem to maintain it for the 22,500m however, that’s only just over half the job done. A key learning from all of this has to be, ‘start slow and easy, finish well if that doesn’t jeopardise completing the event’.

It’s fair to say that I was ready for a bath and a sit down once I had finished, the total time was 6 hours and 50 minutes.  I didn’t want to stretch but went through the full routine with the roller. It was painful and hard work but essential. The 28th can’t come fast enough now, I’ve almost done all the hard training, next week (commencing 10th August) will start to see the taper come into effect. Good food and plenty of water plus light exercise, it almost seems like bunking off!

There are a lot of logistical and administrative things to get through before the event so the taper will free up time to get these things done.

Please consider sponsoring me to raise money for a very worth local charity, you can visit my Make-a-Donation page here and find out more.

Further reading…..

If you liked this blog please take a moment to check out my book describing the solo Land’s End to John O’Groats ride in 2012, all profit from sales to

Please click the cover image for the Kindle version or click here to order a paperback copy. Thank you!

Read More