Ironman 70.3 Weymouth 2017

September 28th, 2017 by

4th place – 4:11:32

For me, racing has always been a means to travel, and generally to places I haven’t otherwise visited. Weymouth was another addition to that list. The trip was supposed to be bolted onto me competing the previous weekend on the Pembrokeshire coast at Ironman Wales in Tenby. However, since I’d had to withdraw from that race because of an ongoing niggling hip issue, I was now solely concentrating my efforts on this shorter Ironman 70.3 event instead. Given how challenging the weather appeared to be in Tenby, coupled with how tough the Weymouth ride would prove to be, it perhaps ended up as a blessing in disguise.

finish chute

‘The quicker you run, the sooner it’s done’… or something like that… 

Similar to the Dublin 70.3 a month prior, I was still going into this event with a reasonable amount of worry about my body’s (hip) ability to get through unscathed. I’d managed to race over the shorter (but more intense) Olympic distance last weekend and came through the other end in one piece, but that didn’t stop me harbouring a little bit of doubt. An increased number of physio appointments coupled with the associated rehab / strength routine in the gym was making some good headway, but my run volume in particular had been slashed and so it was hard to pinpoint which of these ‘variables’ might be helping (if at all) come race day over the half marathon distance.

pre t1

Setting up for the day ahead in the early morning transition darkness

Given it was deep into September, the weather was very likely to cause some temperature issues, despite Weymouth being as far south as mainland Britain can offer. Indeed, we woke up to a reasonable breeze which aside from keeping the air temp on the low side, it also gave the sea a reasonable ‘ripple’. (It always appears less so from the safety of the beach, but once you are in there…!) Luckily, I’ve rarely had issues with the cold during a race (although there was that one time I had to borrow a fleece from a kind old lady at my first Aberfeldy event many moons ago) but the same couldn’t be said for many others trying to cope with the early morning chill and there was a few dnf’s out on the bike unfortunately. My travelling buddy Ritchie Nicholls made it as far as the top of the first climb from transition and as soon as he started to descend the other side he knew it was game over, plus my Pewag Racing team mate Corinne Abraham became so cold she lost control of her bike and wobbled into a hedgerow! Ironically it turned out to be quite warm and sunny as late morning / lunchtime arrived, meaning it actually felt pretty toasty on the run course along the seaside promenade… if you managed to negotiate the bike segment beforehand, of course.

weymouth run

There was – as throughout the summer season of UK based 70.3s – a small but good quality Pro field assembled, and I was aiming to creep into a top five slot like earlier in the summer at both Staffordshire and Edinburgh 70.3s. Kicking off proceedings was a swim that was far tougher than it appeared from the beachfront, but asides from a solitary leader a minute in front, a main group of roughly six had formed by the swim exit, which I was in the middle of. I’m not a tremendous fan of sea swims because they have a nasty habit of becoming choppy and wavy affairs! I find the swell hard to cope with and much prefer a flat calm open water environment – you know, like the pool!

Last month my bike ride at Dublin 70.3 was poor, and I didn’t want to make the same ‘mistakes’ again, essentially meaning, “don’t get as badly dropped”! I knew that James Cunnama would be impressive based on his recent race form, and sure enough, when he passed me towards the top of the initial climb out of town I knew he wouldn’t be hanging around for any of us! It was really strong riding, and he was soon out of sight, but I’d hung onto his coat tails along with another German athlete for a wee while, and we in turn had pulled away from the others we’d swum with.

Over the course of the remaining ride, which was technical and fairly hilly, we were caught by another group of riders, which itself ended up splintering into ones and twos over the course of the fast descent back into Weymouth. I arrived into T2 in 7th position, but less than three minutes behind 2nd place, with James very much long gone up the road.

beach run

Blair had a New Triathlon athlete competing too, so it was great to have his encouragement on course, especially since the splits to those in front of me were shrinking – that’s always confidence building. Indeed by the midway marker I was able to run into 4th place and still felt solid, keeping a respectable run form too I felt. All said and done I finished up with a 1:17 half marathon split, which is yet another improvement on where I was at the month beforehand in Ireland. Granted, this was a pan flat run course up and down the beach promenade, but it was a positive step forward in my racing nonetheless, and beggars most definitely cant be choosers. And happily, there no issues with my grumbly ‘old man’ hip either.

This event in Weymouth was a real winner in my book, and although I know that is easy to say when a good result perhaps clouds the judgement, I really did enjoy the whole weekend on the south coast. After the logistical challenges of most other UK events, it was great to not have a split transition plus there were busy crowds lining the scenic run course, which really did get bathed in late morning sunshine in contrast to the morning chill a few hours earlier…that can cloud judgement I guess 😉