MATT Nuttall admits his debut in the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii was ‘beyond his wildest dreams’ – and is already eyeing up a return.

The 44-year-old from Blackburn finished 1,411th out of more than 2,500 competitors and described the chall-enge as one of the toughest he has ever faced.

Nuttall qualified for the event by finishing 45th in the UK Ironman event in Bolton in the summer but admits the Hawaii test was “another step up”.

The Ironman consists of a two-and-a-half mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride and a gruelling marathon. It is considered one of the most difficult sports in the world.

Nuttall had to turn down the opportunity to go in 2011 for personal reasons, but finally got to realise his dream.

He said: “It was fantastic, absolutely sup-erb. It was beyond any-thing I expected or imagined it would be like, it really was beyond my wildest dreams.

“It was just amazing, the size of the event, the quality of the event, every-thing about it. It was going up another level from anything I have ever competed in before.

“I have been doing triathlon for a long, long time now but it felt like I was doing my first one out in Hawaii. It was that tough.”

The Blackburn Harrier has trained as a triathlete for more than 20 years but believes the Ironman offers the ultimate test.

He added that the weather conditions did him few favours, but insisted it was more about the experience, than setting any personal records.

He said: “I was speaking to some athletes who had been in it for the last 10 years and they said this was the toughest one yet because of the conditions.

“It was so hot but also really windy and that caused a problem on the bikes. The sea was also very rough which made the swim hard.

“I set off with two plans in mind. Plan A was to go all out from the start and see how I felt and then plan B was to relax a bit if I found it tough going.

“I quickly resorted to plan B and made sure I enjoyed it. There was no way I was not going to finish the race, even if I had to crawl over the line – which thankfully I didn’t.”

Nuttall finished the course in a time of 12hrs 22mins and 18 secs and admits the huge crowds helped him on his way.

As to the future, he is already eye-ing a return one day but first must com-plete a five-year plan to achieve it, with the cost of competing one factor.

He said: “The crowds have to be seen to be believed.

“The event just takes over the town, everything there is Ironman. Anyone who is anyone in triathlon will be there.

“I would love to do it again but obviously financial considerations have to come into it because it is very expensive. I am in the Frankfurt Ironman next year though so we will see what happens.

“I aim to compete in each age category discipline so that gives me five years to make the next one in Hawaii.”