Nick Mansley was one of four people to complete the W Highlands ultra in 2008. Now he feels ready to return to the extreme.
What is your name and where do you live?
Nick Mansley from Cambridge in England – a long way from any mountains or big hills to train on!
How did you get into triathlon? How many years have you been competing?
I started out in 2007, because I thought I was drinking too much and getting too fat/unfit and thought signing up for an ironman would force me to change my habits – it did!
At the end of Ironman UK in 2007 I felt like I hadn’t really pushed myself to my limits so thought I should either try to go further or quicker and decided to do the West Highlands Ultra in 2008. After that I said “never again” or “no long swims in freezing water ever again” and then had cancer on my nose which kept me out of action for a while, but I got back into running and biking in 2010.
What other major races have you been competing in? What is your greatest triathlon success so far?
I have not been doing any triathlons but I did the London marathon this year and last year did the Cape Wrath marathon (after cycling 1800 km from Lands End (the SW tip of Britain) to John O’Groats (the NE tip) finishing and celebrating the evening before the marathon).
Finishing fourth in the W Highlands ultra is my only really notable triathlon achievement – only four people finished as the cold water took its toll and the weather at the end of the run was terrible. To recover from a horrible swim and hypothermia and cycle over 280km and then run over 55km over very hilly terrain and with ferocious wind and rain at the end is something that really pushed the boundaries. It was also one of the best days of my life!
Paul who finished just ahead of me was partly inspired by that day to set up the Celtman which hopefully will become a great alternative for those that can’t get into the Norseman.
How many times have you raced Norseman?
I am a Norseman novice.
What has attracted you to Norseman?
Firstly, the scale of the challenge. I needed to do something sufficiently mad to get people to sponsor me as I’ve been raising money for various causes for the last five years and the Norseman captures people’s imagination and I think I will have raised over £5,000 for the National Autistic Society.
Secondly, the scenery and point to point course. The sense of a massive journey on the West Highlands ultra was partly what made it so special and I hope and expect that I will really enjoy the scenery however the race goes.
What do you expect will be the most challenging aspect of the race?
Staying in a straight line on the swim has normally been my biggest problem but in the mountains anything can happen and things can change quickly so the biggest challenge is probably just to be relaxed with whatever happens and whatever the weather is whilst not being so relaxed as to lose focus.
What is the thing you are most looking forward to?
Feeling that I will definitely finish! - Hopefully in time and in a position to go to the top of the mountain.
What sets Norseman apart from other triathlons you've done?
The start sounds far more intimidating than anything else I’ve done and the height of the climbs on the run and the bike will be totally new to me in a triathlon.
Tell us about one or a few of your favorite training session. Where does it take you, what do you feel and why do you love it?
The ride to the coast from Cambridge and back is a great day. It is about a 250km ride. It goes past all the racehorses in Newmarket, amazing 13th century villages and churches and the reward at half way is some great fish and chips on the beach in Aldeburgh. The ride back passes lots more old villages, stately homes and pretty countryside including a quick stop to have some outstanding ice cream.
Training partners. We all have them...tell us what makes your training partners great. Are any of them joining you at Norseman?
My great training partner, Jill Parker (who won the 30-34 age group world triathlon championship in 2010) and who I cycled from Lands End to John O’Groats with moved to Manchester in the autumn so since then I’ve been pretty much on my own apart from two training rides. I miss her brilliant smile in the face of any weather and her cheeky sprints when running. She and her husband were going to support me but they got tickets to the Olympics for the same weekend so instead I’ll be supported by my brother Steve. Steve, whilst not my training partner, brews very good beer which I’ve found a useful training aid!
Meet What's your favourite post-training treat? Any recipes you'd like to share?
I normally do a c90-100km ride on a Friday evening back from London and stop to pick up a curry for the family at the end. Never sure whether the family are pleased to see me or whether it is just the curry I bring.
Do you enjoy training to music?
Yes - ideally it starts with slower songs like reggae or soul to stop me going off too fast, then some good dance/house music to really pick up the tempo.
These songs give a flavour of what I love to train to and my expectations for the Norseman:
The night before/doubts before the start:
Insomnia – Faithless;
Why does my heart feel so bad – Moby;
I cannot make it – Sly and the Family Stone
What I’ll be telling myself before and during the race:
Nothing can stop me – Impressions;
Crank it up – David Guetta ft Akon;
Move ya body - Nina Sky ft Jabba
Out on the plateau/ a song for my bike:
Loneliness – Tomcraft;
Titanium – David Guetta ft Sia
On the run
Sweat – Snoop Dogg;
Don’t Give up – Chicane;
Don’t Stop – ATB
At the End
Unbelievable - EMF