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Ironman Arizona 2019

Helen Graham completes two Ironman Triathlons within 9 weeks

Helen Bike

Background

Tempe in Arizona delivers a mostly-flat, fast, and spectator-friendly course that brings urban charms and desert vistas together. The deep lake water tends to be rather cold despite the potentially warm race conditions. Headwinds on the cycle can be more of a challenge than the significant inclines.

Pre race

Helen and Jim signed up for this fast warm weather triathlon a year ahead because this race sells out rapidly. Helen completed Ironman Italy 9 weeks earlier. Jim broke his hip during Ironman Italy so he switched from racing to supporting for Arizona.

Swim

64 Fahrenheit water and some currents lead to many athletes getting hypothermic and withdrawing of getting slow times. Helen was 16 minutes longer in the water at Arizona compared to Italy. The 0.4 mile jog from the swim exit to T1 made transition times longer than usual.

Bike

The sun did not emerge from clouds until around midday. The first 20 miles were uphill into a headwind so Helen was averaging around 11mph when she needed an average of nearly 15mph to make the cut-off times. Prospects looked bleak but Helen dug-deep and she avoided use of brakes downhill plus she pedalled like fury. Helen's speeds steadily rose through the 3-lap course and she did make the final cut-off time by just 2 minutes 50 seconds.

Run

Helen is a great runner with more than 50 marathons completed. She ran steadily and strongly to beat the final cut-of time by nearly an hour, overtaking vast numbers of other athletes as she went.

Post race

The subdued celebrations of Italy were compensated for by jubilation in Arizona.

Reflections and Acknowledgements

The 16:10 finish time at Arizona was 27 mins slower than the Italy finish time, but many more All World Athlete (AWA) points were awarded to Helen for this Arizona race. This reflects tougher race conditions on the day at Arizona. These two races give Helen an age group world ranking of 17th in GBR and 254th in the World. Some of those ranked higher will have gained points from 3 races rather than just 2.
The support of family and friends following progress on the Ironman App was much appreciated. The MSTC training sessions, advice and comradeship has been hugely important to Helen as she has progressed from complete novice to accomplished triathlete.

Helen Medal

Ironman Emilia-Romagna 2019

Doug and Helen successfully complete this wonderful race but Jim DNFs with a broken hip

Doug And Helen IM Italy Finish

Background

The ancient fishing village of Cervia hosts a spectacular race that takes place along the coastal Emilia-Romagna region flanked by the Adriatic Sea. Italian village vibe and historic scenery plus very hospitable local people. The biggest ironman event currently, with approximately 3,000 participants.

Pre race

Doug, Helen and Jim signed up for this fast warm weather triathlon. Doug's wife, Carol came along to provide essential support.

Swim

Relatively fast sea swim with pleasant temperature but not too hot for wetsuits. Doug, Helen and Jim completed the swim near to personal best times despite significant currents and a lot of contacts due to the large number of swimmers.

Bike

A fast 2-loop closed road cycle that is mostly flat except for one sharp hill climb and descent that is the same for each loop. Doug and Helen managed near personal best bike splits. Jim was matching his 2015 lifetime best Ironman race for both swim and cycle pace when he suffered a front wheel puncture at 25 mph at mile 60. Jim lost control of his bike due to the puncture and sustained a broken hip when he crashed.

Run

Doug and Helen finished strongly with good running. Doug got a new personal best time for this distance in a shade over 12 hours. Helen was just a couple of minutes slower than her personal best in 15:43. Jim was achieved terrific speed in the ambulance on his way to one of Italy's top trauma centres.

Post race

Carol deduced that Jim was in trouble and with perseverance she found Jim in a hospital many miles from the race venue. Helen and Doug's celebrations were bit subdued due to Jim's crash.

Reflections and Acknowledgements

There was one digit wrong with Carol's phone number written on the back of Jim's bib number so the messages left for Carol were sadly useless. Ironman staff had been told by roadside officials that the injury was a grazed elbow and they had not been told where the ambulance had gone to. It was amazing that Carol managed to track Jim down in an orthopaedic ward with a broken hip in order to provide much needed emotional support. Jim had blown his chance to compete with Alistair Brownlee at Ironman Kona 3 weeks later. Jim had completed 99th marathons prior to this race and the 100th could be many months away now.

IM Italy Crutches