April 23, 2024
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April 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

We literally stopped traffic to take this picture at Abbey Road, but so did the Beatles. (Credit: David Roher)

I walked with my wife from the hotel to the town hall. The sky was gray, overcast, warning us that our brazenness for walking outside would be punished with cold English rains.

(Welcome to England.)

Eight hours earlier I had victoriously completed Ironman UK amidst the crowds and lights and barricades draped in Ironman banners.

Now, the town square looked like the day after a concert with the crew packing up the show. All the scaffolding and power cables were being boxed away and the citizens of Bolton were being given back their city.

We entered the town hall building I ran around the night before. The room that the award ceremony was held in resembled a high school auditorium with its seats bolted into the floor.

As soon as Janet and I sat down, Joanne Murphy, the announcer came up to me,

When in Scotland… (Credit: David Roher)


“Did you sign in?”


“They are going to roll through the names of the Ironman UK finishers and if you are on the list, they are going to offer you a spot at the Ironman World Championship in Nice, France.”

(Doesn’t that race on a Sunday???)

“But I can’t go, I don’t have permission.”

“You can’t get permission?”

“I wish that I could.” Joanne looked at me quizzically. I teach at a public school. I would need to get special permission from the superintendent of schools to take time off from my teaching schedule to do such a thing as travel to Europe to race another Ironman.

(Maybe you could ask him when you got back.)

“How much does the entry fee cost?”


“How long do I have to pay it?” Maybe I could wait two weeks and ask my superintendent…

“You have to pay it as soon as you accept … this morning.”

Apparently, when you wear your Ironman finisher medal home (arrow) you get a free bottle of scotch from the stewardess and bunny ears from your child. (Credit: David Roher)


“I can’t.”

Then Huw the photographer sat down next to me. It was he who pointed me out to Joanne. Huw is @shortnround on Instagram and it is an accurate description of his physical appearance. We chatted about our children and our wives. The man was responsible for connecting me to Joanne and all that she did for me. I just wanted to repay that kindness by listening to him talk about his life. Then the presentation started. We heard how this year the men were going to Nice, France and the women would compete in Kona, Hawaii.

(Just like Joanne said.)

I sat there in the velvet high school auditorium chairs as they called out my name.

I declined the offer and they went to the next name on the list.

(So, that was it?)

Yeah. It felt like the time my son Eric received a math award in the eighth grade, but I didn’t have time to dwell on it. It was into the van off to the train station.

(No plane?)

No. We had flown from New Jersey to London. London to Rome. Rome to Venice. Venice to London. London to Manchester. All in a matter of four days.

Now we were taking a train from Manchester to Edinburgh, Scotland.

In Scotland, we saw castles. I discovered new scotch whiskeys and we tried to make out what locals were saying … and I just relaxed.

(What was it like not rushing home the day after a race?)

Weird … but in a good way.

(Does this mean that you are learning to relax?)

Oh, no. I made my family walk everywhere. I learned from my dad. Vacation is about sightseeing.

(Do you ever sit still?)

My wife says that I thrash about in my sleep.

(Practicing your swim technique?)

That is how she describes it.

We took a five-hour train ride from Eden, Edinburgh back to London.

(Because your wife wouldn’t let you bike back?)

We still had a stop to make before we flew home.

(You had to pick up your wallet.)

Correction, we had two stops to make before we flew home.

We revisited the crossing at Abbey Road to retake the picture of the four of us crossing the street.

Since Stevie plays the bass guitar, he got to be Paul. I was John.

(Because you are the only family member with a white suit.)

From there, we went back to the airport, where I retrieved my wallet from United Airlines customer service.

We visited five cities in 10 days.

(Four of them in the first five days.)

We saw the Colosseum and rode the canals of Venice. I faced down defeat on the mountains of Bolton, England and visited castles in Scotland. We walked in the footsteps of the Beatles and experienced new foods everywhere we went. It had been the epic adventure I had hoped for and now … it was time to go home.

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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