Ironman 70.3 World Championships 2011 – Las Vegas

September 15th, 2011 by

Vegas baby! I just thought i’d better get that out of the way quickly…clear the air and all ­čśë┬á Sunday was a tough day in a lot of ways – tough bike ride, tough run course, tough climate and tough competition (it was Worlds after all) but mostly tough as my stomach didn’t read the script (the one that said feeling rubbish the week before in Des Moines should have been my bad luck for the year) and it pulled the pin on me. Again. And i HATE to make excuses. But it did – sonofagun! What a race though and as much as I liked Clearwater – this course in Las Vegas is very much worthy of being a Championship course. I really enjoyed racing on it.

Arriving at T2 in Henderson, Las Vegas…. feeling pretty tired!!

The new venue in Vegas was I thought pretty stunning – set on the edge of the desert with rolling hills as far as the eye could see. Like I mentioned in my previous blog post about our recce┬áof the course ┬áit appeared as if you were riding out onto a lunar surface. With a non wetty swim, a bike course profile giving people the shivers and a potentially cauldron-esque heat come midday it was shaping up to be a course fit for a seriously well prepared athlete. Just like it shoul be at World Champs.

Transition area, with┬áthe swim entry point in the background under the Lowe’s hotel – bridges and all to swim under

My swim was so so. I was (and am) in what i think is really solid swim shape, and I was keen to see whether I could hitch a lift on Andy Potts’ feet for the first time. I took team mate Paul ‘Barny’ Matthews advice and started way left (when my instinct was to go more right than left) and since the rest of the field followed us, we got boxed and long story short, didnt get anywhere near Andy’s six beat kick in the first couple hundred meters. Game (catching his feet) over. I had an ongoing boxing match (albiet a tame one) with Filip Ospaly throughout the reamining 1600m or so – if i veered right, so did he, if i surged, he kicked hard too. This is a pet hate of mine and frustrates me no end whilst racing, but it is exactly that – racing – and I tried me best to suck it up. I exited the water in 6th place and started riding the bike in 9th after an uncharacteristically poor tranistion. – Still in touch and ready to catch ‘buddy Paul’ who was by now riding Potts down lightening quick.

I drew a lot of confidence from a) having ridden the course extensively during our recce trip a few weeks previously and b) how strong i was riding in Des Moines the week before. I felt great on the bike the couple days before the race and was excited to see how I could race my Speed Concept around the 90ks.┬á – I picked off rider by rider and within 8miles was happily 4th place and Andy had been caught … now it was a case of biding my time till at least the turnaround before seeing what was left in the tank. – The remaining 3 guys from our team – Chris and Matt Lieto plus my good friend and training partner up in Boulder, Joe Gambles joined the front of the race by 30ks and the 5 of us represented nearly 50% of the leading group. Trek had flown in their camera crew to get race footage to make a film at a later date, and so it will hopefully look pretty cool to see 5 white, blue and grey bikes lined out along the tarmac!

I held my own and rode strong till around 40miles – indeed there was apparently some confusion on the website as to whether or not I had reached the Timex Prime Line first or not … sadly that was Chirs Lieto, who had by that point steadily turned the throttle and ridden away from us – as hard as we were riding! He is a supremely gifted bike rider and it is quite something to see him do his thing. And when he is on, boy does he do it well.

13 miles of rather slow ‘running’ oblique walking. Not fun.

However the wheels kind of wobbled with around 15miles remaining and it was all I could do to stay in touch with the lea group of 7 … I was slightly detached as we hit T2 … and that is when I knew the day would be a long one, as my stomach started to ache. Whether or not a hangover from my sickness issues in Des Moines the week previous, I don’t yet know, but either way I hit the run with nothing in the tank and an inability to push past a jog. It was emabarrasing to say the least.

Blair did his best to encourage me and I in turn┬áendeavoured to be positive. 3 months ago I wasn’t even racing this distance and the thought of making the World Championships seemed absurd. So I really tried hard to enjoy being on the course – and when I walked through one of the aid stations┬áand a volunteer told me to “keep on running for those who can’t” … I assumed that she meant the victims of the September the 11th – which Sunday was the 10th anniversary of. It hit a cord with me nonetheless and I ploughed on as best I could, making good what I could from the situation.

I hit the finish in 4 hours and 21 minutes – a good 25+ minutes in arrears of race winner Craig Alexander. It’s by far my worst finishing deficit, but at least it was a finish – as at times I didn’t really see that happening.

With Blair and team mate Joe Gambles at the bike check in on the Saturday evening

Once finished I was I thought ok, and chatted to Blair for a good 10minutes before I started to quickly realise all was not well so┬áin the world, and before I knew it I was being wheelchair’d backwards (I didn’t have the energy to pick my own feet up and roll forwards!!) into the medical tent where I was told my temperature was 99.6C and an IV was eventually administered (my first experience of such a bag of fluid). – It did the trick and within half an hour I was ‘a different person’ according to those who saw me before and after.

Lessons have been learned and I think some tests need to go away and be done to see if there is something to be ‘got to the bottom of’ in terms of these recent stomach issues. – This sport is not a swim/bike race and so as much as I am happy to be doing those two disciplines at a world class level, it is utterly useless in the sport of Triathlon if I cannot run hard off a hard bike.

But onwards and upwards with Ironman Arizona firmly on the radar from now on in to November 20th.

Many thanks to Richard Melik and Ramon Serrano for the great photo’s!

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