Zurich 5150, 2011

July 11th, 2011 by

Two weeks further down the line from the trip to liverpool and with two more weeks of Shire-training tucked away it was time to head towards departures at Edinburgh airport once more. Destination Zurich; for the next round of the Ironman 5150 series of olympic distance racing. I had Ritchie Nicholls as a travel buddy, starting only his 2nd ever non drafting event – what a weekend he was going to have!

Exiting the water with work to do …. 

The new 5150 series is a great new addition to the race calendar; these are not all new races as such, just that they have been taken under then Ironman umbrella and perhaps gained a little bit more profile and higher quality fields as a consequence. Zurich for example has always had a Saturday event as a prelude to the main event of the weekend; Ironman Switzerland on the Sunday. Ordinarily our race would’ve been a Swiss Cup event, although Ritchie had in fact raced here way back in 2005 when we (the Scottish squad) were training in Gerardmer, France (and I – as Ritchie pointed out with rather good memory skills – was racing at the Euro U23 Champs in Bulgaria… not such fond memories!)

Anyway, the bottom line was that Saturday would let me see with a bit more detail where I was in terms of real race shape and probably more importantly, it was a chance to ‘just go through’ the whole process of a race once more. – The packing, the travel, the logistics, the finding of somewhere to eat the night before in a strange place (did someone mentione the Golden Arches?!), the race day prep – morning jog, breaky, getting to the venue, warm-up, nerves on the beach before the cannon goes.. etc etc.

The race itself was of course a good solid hit out, but I came away with mistakes to learn from. – The swim was a run in off a little beach area, directly into a tight left hand turn bouy after maybe 150m or less. Essentially the swim start was important to get a good position going round that first bouy, and I was – after too much long distance racing (where the swim isn’t as competitive to be honest) – complacent. I figured I could start a little more to the right to avoid ‘the fight’ and simply swim onto the front group after a 100m or so. Negative. I looked up to sight after 30m or so and was already significantly adrift. Ritchie was hanging on just behind.

I exited the water about 1 minute down on the leaders, but set to work alongside Ironman World Champion Chris McCormack. We pushed a good pace round the 3 lap course, which contained the famous ‘Heartbreak Hill’ from the Ironman Course and had virtually pegged all but the race leader back by T2. Ritchie, after a very strong ride in what was only his 2nd event using a TT bike, was still lingering.

Given where I am with my training the 10k run is always going to be a considerable step out of my comfort zone, and so I set about finding a pace that I could sustain without digging too big a hole. I am racing again next weekend in my first 70.3 event in over a year, so I wanted to limit the damage to the limbs as much as possible. I watched with a smile as Ritchie stormed by after less than a K and told himto get after them. He is running extremely well right now and it was no surprise to see him comfortably in the lead at the final turn point around the 7K mark. He won with ease!

All in I am happy with the 10th place finish; I worked hard and (re)learned some valuable lessons. It was a whirlwind trip but good fun and well worth it.  – As a wise Irishman says “it is what it is” and I am looking forward to the next challenge on the agenda; Ironman 70.3 Racine on Sunday in Wisconsin.

Ritchie shares his race-winning (non alcoholic!) beer with Chris’ Macca’ McCormack while I catch up with Paul Amey.

Race results are here