April 18, 2024
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April 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The things you can find when shopping for Shabbos in the UK. (Credit: David Roher)

Three Days Until Ironman United Kingdom

We made it to the gate once again, with less than 60 minutes & once again…the flight was delayed.

(What did you do with the extra time?)

I ran a mile.

(What do you mean you ran a mile?)

I ran through the terminal for 10 minutes.

(Didn’t your running alert security?)

Airport terminals are great for running. It’s the only place that you expect to see people sprinting down the corridors.

It was a 30-minute flight from London to Manchester. The flight attendants rushed to hand out water and pretzels.

We entered the Manchester terminal and our luggage came right out for a change. We were in the UK for Ironman UK, in Bolton, which is the next town over from Manchester.

We were met by a driver who instead of holding a sign with our name was holding the name of the travel agency. We had planned to make it to the Kosher Mart by 10 p.m., but it closed at 11 p.m., and it was 11:32 p.m.

(Maybe there’s one open until midnight?)

Even if there was, there’s no way we would make it in time…

Hmmm? Google…

“There’s another kosher mart and that one’s open until 2 a.m.?”


Our home for Ironman UK. Notice that the hotel is on a hill by the slant. (Credit: David Roher)


Two Days Until Ironman United Kingdom

We pulled into a parking lot lit up by floodlights at 12:30 a.m. As we entered the kosher supermarket we noticed how many hasidim there were awake in Manchester after midnight.

(Who here hasn’t been awake after midnight in preparation for Shabbas?)

(Do you speak Yiddish?)

No, but we are in Manchester. Everyone here speaks the “Queen’s English.”

We left the boys in the van with our driver and we began filling up a shopping cart.

My wife pushed the cart down the aisle with me, tossing in items left and right.

“We need this…and we need that.”

(No list?)

We have been going away as a family for Ironman Triathlon weekends for over 10 years. By now we know what each of us needs over Shabbas to be “sameach.”

The store even sold 18-year-old scotch.

(You drank the day before the race?)

In the end, I wound up giving away the bottle as a gift…but more on that later.

As my wife and I were talking…

(and tossing in groceries)

…a woman approached us.

“Are you from America?”

(Did I just win a million dollars on British TV?)

“Yes…why might I ask?”

“My son goes to yeshiva, in Teaneck, New Jersey.”

“We live in Teaneck. What is your last name?”


“I know your son.”

Somehow, no matter where I go, I seem to play Jewish geography.

(You were recognized as The Jewish Link’s sports columnist while in Rome days before).

Eric texted me, “Stevie needs the bathroom.”

There I was, outside a kosher mart in the UK at one in the morning having a “dad moment” helping my son pee in a dark alley. With our hundreds of dollars of groceries paid for it was time to get to the hotel. I had been awake for almost 24 hours.

Finally, we arrived at our hotel. The Holiday Inn Manchester. We had stayed here the year before for Ironman UK, so I walked right up to the front desk and exclaimed,

Three packages of lox, challah rolls, dips, chips & spreads, all to feed me for the next 48 hours. (Credit: David Roher)

“Hi, we are the Rohers, we have a reservation.”

“No, I don’t see a reservation in your name.”

Aaauuugh! Can anything go right on this trip???

My phone was dead, so….so much for pulling up the reservations.

The night manager walked over and said,

“We will check you into a room, we have give left. Let them get sleep, we will figure it out tomorrow.”

“Thank you. Is there a way to get an extra mini fridge for our room? We brought a lot of food.”

“I’m sorry sir, we no longer offer refrigerators in the rooms.”

With our food stored in the hotel’s fridge & our kids asleep, my phone came back to life at 2 a.m.

“I found it!” I exclaimed to my half-awake wife.

I scurried downstairs and showed the email to the night manager.

“Sir, your reservation begins tomorrow.”

This is the last time I let someone else book my trip.

(So, everything else went smoothly from then on?)

Read on…

David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6. He can be reached at [email protected]

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