Perfect conditions in a beautiful reservoir rolling-start single
lap course resulted in one of the slowest swims in age group of
1:29. This was 17 minutes slower than my previous best iron-swim
and reflects current poor swimming form.
Hundreds of riders to
overtake on the moderately hilly good surface non-technical bike
course gave hundreds of brief legal drafting opportunities whilst
going past people. The home-made bike constructed from mostly
secondhand parts from eBay proved to be very aero with average
speed of 22.5mph and maximum speed of 45mph for a 4:57 bike split.
This was apparently fastest in age group apart from a 4:29 DNF.
Temperatures were around 100F at the start of the run and I was
content with the sub-5 hour bike split so a fast run was not in
mind. Almost immediately I got overtaken by Stephen from Colorado
who was in my age group and was wearing Kona World Championship
Finisher's Kit. I was motivated to try harder and attempt to match
Stephen's pace. I could not keep up with Stephen's running but he
tended to spend longer at feed stations so I kept seeing him up
until the last third of the run when he seemed to have got away.
Just a few hundred metres from the finish I overtook an exhausted
Stephen but because he had entered the water ahead of me our finish
times were 2 minutes apart. Stephen's 4:01 run was best in age
group and my 4:02 was second fastest.
hot conditions and the 5,000 feet altitude accounted for a high DNF
rate but Stephen and I secured the two Kona slots for 55-59.
Unbelievable to get the age group award and the Kona slot medal. My
10:39 was almost and hour slower than PB but in the conditions it
was pretty good and considerably faster than last year's IM Boulder
55-59 winning time. This result was totally unexpected as explained
in the Grand Plan described later.
This is the race report I never dreamt of being able to write,
having completed 22 Iron Distance Races over 9 years and never
ranked better than 5th in age group. It was a humbling experience
having my perfect race at Barcelona 2015 only to find that the 9:45
finish time was slower than 6 people in my age group.
The Grand Plan
A final 100% effort to get a Kona qualification slot was planned
for 2018 to coincide with going up an age group. Having been to
Kona with a legacy place in 2016, I hoped to go back in 2018 with a
roll-down slot to prove I could make the grade the proper
Every detail was addressed including body weight reduction, a more
aero bike, 25mm graphene tyres, latex inner tubes and speedplay
aero pedals/cleats. The schedule of training and preparation races
included altitude training at the optimum time to deliver a best
performance at IM Norway on 1st July at sea level. The Colorado
altitude training in June included 3 races within 13 days (Revel
Rockies Marathon, IM Boulder and Leadville Marathon).
I stayed at 8,000 feet for a week then raced at 5,000 feet in
Boulder before going to 10,000 feet for a week to prepare for the
3rd race at Leadville with maximum elevation of 13,000 feet.
I am very grateful for all the terrific support from friends,
family and work colleagues to allow me to have do this trip plus
the training needed to prepare. Commuting by bike to work 3 days a
week and running marathons twice or more weekly in order to get
100-marathon club entry have been key factors in getting
Colorado is a wonderland for triathletes with great options for
swimming, cycling and running at high altitude to maximise fitness
adaptations. The landscape is gorgeous and the locals are very
friendly. Flying direct from Gatwick to Denver with excellent
budget airline Norwegian Air is very practical. Staying at AirBnB
rentals was very good value and my hosts were wonderful.
The strategy of regular races paid off. 3rd in age group at
Revel Rockies Marathon with 3:04 then 1st in age group at IM
Boulder 7 days later. 6 days after IM Boulder I felt fully fit and
secured 7th place in age group at the Leadville Marathon with
maximum elevation of 13,000 feet, which won me a Leadville 100
Kona 2018 promises to be awesome and I am so lucky to be able to
compete there. It looks like the big challenge for 2019 will be
trying to complete one of the toughest 100 mile ultra runs in the
world at Leadville.