Neil Tolfrey

  • Born Exmouth Devon 19th September 1964. 
  • I come more from a running background representation my county Hampshire in Cross country. Winning two half marathons, Hayling Billy 5, Two 5Ks one road and one track.
  • Clubs Havant AC, Southampton City, Victory AC and of course Portsmouth Triathletes.
  • Tell us a bit more about your track record? PBs are as follows: 
  • 5k 15:55
  • 5 miles 26:37
  • 10k 32:59 
  • 10  miles 54:47 
  • 25k (15:6 miles )1:30:10
  • 20 miles 2:03:47
  • Marathon 2:46:54
  • Vet 40 P.B 2:50:05 (2006)
  • So I could say that I was a good club runner, slowly slowing part of pushing my body to it’s limits of getting older.
  • So with stats like that, tell us why you switched to multi-sport? I got into it back in 1998 thanks to Dave Arnold. Those who have met him, know he’s bit a character when competing (say no more).
  • Starting with duathlons actually Nigel Selley’s duathlon series in Denmead a 5k/17M/5k I thought I’ll give it a go £1 entry on a borrowed bike. I had a good day: 1st 5k 16:08, 17M bike 51 mins, 2nd 5k run 16:48. 
  • So what is your best and worst elements of tri? A friend said to me that it was a shame you couldn’t put that run speed to the bike, if you could, you would be a GB age grouper… I’ve never really got the leg speed on a bike, due to my running background, I always relied on that during races, but sadly, that doesn’t work in anything above Olympic distance.
  • Did you ever fall in love with the bike or was it not meant to be? Early on did have bit of accident not my fault I was knocked off my bike during Fareham Triathlon 1999 by a car thanks to Dave Arnold’s race helmet I’m writing this now (don’t let this put you off).
  • Knowing your history, it is clear that you didn’t let this put you off? I did Ironman 70:3 UK Wimbleball Somerset 2008. I actually did my first 1/2 Iron before doing my first Olympic distance Tri (London Triathlon still my PB 2hrs 36 mins). The race had 52 Hill’s in 56 miles , 6hrs 30 with a 1:42 half marathon.
  • You certainly don’t do things by half! What was next? I knew that I wanted to up my distance so straight after UK Ironman 70:3 2008 I entered 2009 Lanzarote Ironman most athletes would choose an easier race not me let’s get one of the hardest Ironman’s first (not that any Ironman is easy…ask anyone that has done this amazing achievement). 
  • I must admit to not doing the best training, my longest ride was 82 miles, plenty of of running and swimming in a 50m pool at Aldershot garrison. Whilst still considering myself a runner and not a triathlete, I flew off to Lanza… a few people said “Neil hasn’t done enough bike training” and they were right – time 16:30:22. The most memorable thing was when I got home to the early swim sessions, Andy Lovell said to me “you still did it, so you’re an Ironman”.  
  • The following year I did Ironman UK Bolton 2010 in same year did London marathon after having inflammation around the heart sack and trained bike wise even did a 200km sportive over the South Downs in 25c heat I smashed my overall time by 3hrs 2mins faster.  13:28:43. 
  • Then in 2013, I did Ironman Frankfurt in mid to high 30c, very very hot… even the lake was warm (Kelly Stokes, Adam Leitch and Sophie Helliwell can vouch for that). With a 15 hr cut off it was tight finally finished in 14:38:58.
  • Clearly, you were flying then. Didn’t seem to be much standing in your way! My life changed in 2015 when I was diagnosed with a heart condition had a few angina attacks cut a long story short I had 2 stents fitted into my heart August 2015 so no exercise for eight months ( came in handy doing beach watch quite regularly) quite a shock.
  • How did you come back from that to where you are now? Back to  very very light training with little walks onto running up and down in Havant Park with John Brothers help I eventually did Christmas Park run without stopping which was very pleasing.
  • To my relief I got fitter again and in September 2016 I did Weymouth Ironman 70:3 6hrs 54 mins the recovery mission nearly complete, what you say come on. No I’m not finished yet followed suit and entered like 13 others Barcelona Ironman  2017 well after all still more room on right leg for another IM tattoo, training went well a few 100 milers later etc. Finished Ironman number 4 mission accomplished 14:33:15 second quickest despite very slow marathon (6:23 marathon)
  • Any top tips for our members? First half marathon I ever did, l completely had the wrong shoes and shorts on. My cousin told me what to get and it was so much better after that. The right kit is key! Also, never forget, It is not all about Ironman…  it’s a challenge regardless the distance enjoying it too!
  • Any favourite post-race /training indulgence I nearly always have a big bowl of cereal.