The morning after

We arrive at the driver’s briefing at 8:30. All the drivers are already suited, I’m still in my jeans. We are supposed to be in the Assembly area at 9:15. This is going to be close.

The Clerk starts his speech by telling us that they will be 24 exclusions! Each of these drivers would get a further 4 points penalty on their license for racing under yellow flag and endangering the lives of Marshall’s on track. You could hear a pin drop. This was no joke.

The day before a number of cars went onto the grass, crashes and stayed stranded on track. Race Control did not stop the race but placed it under Yellow Flag condition. The rules are clear on the matter: speed must be reduced, total control must be maintained, strictly no overtaking and duty of care must be given.

The MSA representative got the footage for wrong lap / sector. A huge commotion ensued and the communication was poor, eventually the race was canceled.
Many drivers believed, in their desperate defence that the race should of been Red Flagged (meaning that all drivers must make their way back to the pits without delay).

This misses the whole point. Yes communication and management could and should be improved. But regardless of any technicalities, there must be no room to endanger people’s lives – SIMPLE!

img 0310 - The morning after
As drivers, we need to stop and look at ourselves, have the courage to be humble, sorry and learn. I saw none of these qualities that day.

Story of a crash

It’s time for Race 1. I feel on fire. Lesley, my wife gives me my pep talk, a mixture of love, pride and belief.

I do my routine visualisation and say my mantras: I am in the ZONE!

The lights go off, tyre screetching, rubber burning, I have a fantastic start. I overtake a bunch of cars on the outside and manage to stay on track. We go through the first chicane and we are like a swarm of flies. Some cars overtake me but I overtake more. I am not even trying to keep count, all I know is that I am doing very well as I am in the middle of GT5 amateur and professional racers.

On the straight they catch up with me again as their engine delivers more power. But I compensate with bravery in the corners.

Silverstone is a large track. Coming into Brooklands we are three cars level. No one wants to conceed the tight corner. 

We are coming hot onto the guys in front of us.

Then a red car spins, a black professional GT5 also spins and hits him. The red car goes to the right and the black one stops on the track. This happen in the space of a second. I am still sandwiched by the two other cars, a couple of centimetres room if that. I have nowhere to go. I push the driver on my left to try and avoid the black car, he is not conceding the corner or maybe he is on the limit of his tyre grip.

A big crash ensues, the window smashes onto my face in a 1000 pieces, my shoulder hurts, I loose hearing from my right ear for a while. The mirror is broken and falls between my feet. I did not lower my visor, glass offcuts find their way into my nose and forehead, later I realise it could of been my eye. The competitor’s exhaust has pierced an 8 cm diameter hole by my door.

img 0978 - Story of a crashI am screaming at the spinning drivers, cursing…and trying to race, always. The adrenaline is still pumping!

Parts are rattling between my legs. I am very aware that the mirror could jam my brakes or throttle. It is imperative that I grab the pieces and throw them out.

Still, only one thin on my mind: race! I press on: full throttle. The 5 point harness does not let me move, I try to use my left foot to no avail.

Suddenly my steering goes, I cannot control my car anymore and nearly lose it. At 100mph with a wall on my right hand side…

That’s it, time to quit… over and out again! I get on the grass and very slowly make it back to the pits.

My door is jammed and I crawl out from the passenger seat like a frog. Now I feel concussed, lost, angry.
DNF, 0 points.

Silverstone GP, iconic Formula 1 track

The world class racers have fought, won and lossed on this piece of tarmac. We still hear the roar of their engines. Here we were, a few days ago, on their track… following on their tyre marks.Our race is a mixed pro-am race of the biggest Ginetta presentation ever with G40 and GT5 on show. The grid is 48 driver strong.

img 0085 - Silverstone GP, iconic Formula 1 trackIt’s going to be a big week-end.

I feel good, I have “Butterfly” with me (my new car, still a virgin…all white and no miles on the counter).

A day’s shake down later with no time to wrap her; we are already out for qualification. The track is full and only a few get a clear lap. I end up 12th, not bad, I’m happy with this start.

My brother is on route from Morocco with his family of pirates and will support me tomorrow on Big Sunday.

To donate, click: SOS Village children having fun.

A gruelling night of hard labour. Part 3.

Salim and Arnaud. They have shared so much over the years, were is the Animal? He has nothing left in his legs and told Salim to go. 17:50, 17:55, 17:56, 17:57 Arnaud appears. 3 minutes left before the cut off time! He looks like a dead man walking. But make no mistake, he is no quitter, he never has been, it’s just not in his nature. Respect! He does not want to stop, he knows if he does he will not be able to stand back up. He knows how to squeeze the last drop of energy from his body!

Joe steps in as Running Crew support for the last 22km. Full of smiles, Joe must be a refreshing support in this still miserable conditions with rain and wind.

​An hour later they get to the top of the ascent. They continue on the flat and Arnaud catches up with them! He found some juice as Salim was slurring his words and was getting imprecise with his footsteps. His turn to focus if he wants to finish this challenge.

Like in any endurance sport, you will hit a wall! Are you strong enough to demolish it? Climb it? Find a way around it? Or will you stop? Myriam and I head for a nice glass of champagne and cocktail drink.

They take over 4 hours to complete this section and we meet them a few hundred metres from the finish line. They are all smiles, the pride already oozes from their eyes. They have made it!! They are CELTMEN! X-tri – One of the three worldwide most extreme long distance triathlon. We are humbled.

img 0161 - A gruelling night of hard labour. Part 3.
Epilogue: 156 finishers, 12 DNF (Did Not Finish) and 1 possible disqualification. Arnaud lies on the floor and is wasted. Time to head back to our B&B. It’s 1:00 am, 23 hours non-stop, time for a well deserved rest. Salim progression stats, not for the faint hearted: 1/2 IronMan, 1 DNF Ironman, 1 Ironman, 1 Extreme Triathlon…what’s next? Stay tuned!

fullsizerender 10 - A gruelling night of hard labour. Part 3.

A gruelling day of hard labour. Part 2.

As we jump out of the car to refuel Salim and bring him his energy bars, we realise how harsh the conditions are out there. The rain combined with high winds gives us an immediate chill. 

​We jump back in the car and realise that its not going to be easy.The road starts to climb and from time to time Salim is pushed to the edge of the road by the gusts. A few centimetres more and his race would be over and we would be heading for the nearest First Aid point.

He is slowing down and so is everybody else.

​ There is no way he is going to make the Blue shirt cut off point. Unbeknown to us the Blue Mountain pass had been closed. The weather too dangerous and the visibility reduced to very little.

Salim is hurting, we feel for him. “Myriam pass me some crisps!”

He catches up with Arnaud – a serious triathlete who must of done most of the major events around the world.

From time to time it stops raining but generally, the conditions worsen. The road keeps climbing, the hours pass – 9 hours on the bike!- and we wonder whether they will even finish.

​Second transition Bike to Run; they are tired.

They need to make the next 18 km through mud, rivers and rocky terrain before 18:00. That’s 2 hours flat!

The support team goes for a coffee, we must leave our athletes by themselves for this section of the run. There is no communition with them. We worry that at this stage they will DNF by not making the cut off. We head towards the meeting point and wait in the cold rain.

The minutes pass…17:30, 35, 40, 45…Salim appears without Arnaud!

img 0124 - A gruelling day of hard labour. Part 2.

A grueling morning of hard labour. Part 1.

2 am time to wake up. It’s dark, cold and the midges are out. 

3 am, we head with the car towards a small hamlet in Scotland. 

The organisers have done a great job, quick and efficient. Our athletes jump on a coach under the cheers of hundreds of supporters.

​This is it: a gruelling day of hard labor is about to start. The view is is great though!

img 0196 - A grueling morning of hard labour. Part 1.
A swim of 3.4km in the deep freezing sea to start the day properly at 5:00am. Surprisingly the first athletes come out in good shape. This is deceiving. Some cannot even stand up, nor can they get any heat back into their body. The warming aluminum blankets don’t even help.

Salim comes out after 1h15min and makes his way on the black carpet, flanked by fire pits with a Celtic band playing their hearts out. We are extatic, this is the time needed for the coveted Blue Tshirt, the one that differentiates the Extreme athletes from the complete nutters!

The Support Crew is at hand for T1 (Swim to Bike transition) and 18min later he is already biking. We jump in the car and try to find him back on the windy single track road.

The bike course seem quite easy. Salim overtakes a few bikers. We are laughing and joking, eating crisps and drinking juice in the comfort of the heated Support car: “Come on Salim, Attack!” We calculate what it would take to get to the finish line, extrapolate his current speed as if he could sustain this rhythm for another 10, 12, 14 hours!

img 0101 - Team presentation - Celtman 2017

Team presentation – Celtman 2017

The Athlete: Salim ‘the Dreamer’, an Ironman from Morocco looking for the next extreme challenge.

img 9825 - Team presentation - Celtman 2017
The Support Runner: Joe, a Treck specialist from the USA, carrier of the Survival Kit.

img 0083 - Team presentation - Celtman 2017
Media Support: Myriam, photograph and world traveler just arrived from East Jerusalem.

img 0084 - Team presentation - Celtman 2017
Support Management and coordination: yours truly.

img 0101 - Team presentation - Celtman 2017

The sixth edition of the CELTMAN!

Centred around the stunning Torridon mountains we will take you on an adventure unlike any other.

img 0097 - The sixth edition of the CELTMAN!Make no mistake – when we say this race is extreme we mean it: get ready to endure cold water, strong winds, driving rain and difficult conditions on the mountain with low visibility.

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