So I have registered for my first Ironman. I have registered to do Ironman New Zealand in 2014. I am not Robinson Crusoe. There are tens of thousands who have gone before me. Yet still the dream of completing my first triathlon ‘Mount Everest’ is huge. Just go to the finishline of any Ironman and you will see what this means to so many. The pros do this for a living but the achievement is still monumental each time the line is crossed. But it is not the pros that really get the emotions of the spectators going. Spend the evening watching countless people achieving their dreams and you can’t help but get caught up in the emotion of it all.
This journey to my first Ironman is aimed at others contemplating their first Ironman. I will trying to unearth as much information as possible and share it with others on the same journey. If you are going to follow this journey you also need to understand that I am incredibly dry and that does not come through well in text on a page. It is hard to sound sarcastic online. Spot Anderson always told me that Ironman is for people who can’t race fast anymore. Look’s like we are both slowing down Spot. I am looking forward to sharing this journey with Spot. We are going to try and unearth some of the dos and don’ts of Ironman. Like peaking 3-4 weeks before your race. Yes, I did this before my first marathon recently. I couldn’t help myself. Rather than just trusting my training I had to see if I could run 32kms at my race pace.
Almost every Ironman has a story. Many are tearjerkers. It is not just the age groupers that get the emotions going. I was fortunate enough to be a small part of the Pete Jacobs team at the Ironman World Championships in 2012. I look after Pete’s website and work with him and his management team, headed by Evan Gallagher of BPM Sport, to make sure that Pete’s website is up to date and the sponsors are all looked after on it.
During the week leading up to Kona I went swimming most days with Pete’s lovely wife Jaimie, his wonderful parents Jenny and Geoff and friends Aaron, Caty, Angus and Darryl (of Shotz Sports Nutrition fame). Each day as we swum out to the coffee boat Jenny would chat to all the lifeguards and know them by name. Jaimie was responsible for Caty Scott and I contemplating swimming 3kms to town and walking back through Kona in our speedos after she talked Darryl, Aaron, Caty and I in to a swim off this beach with approximately 1sqm of sand and 100sqms of jaggered lava rock. The 6ft swell was not helpful when we were trying to get back in. It was fine for the others who were incredibly strong surf swimmers.Â The point of babbling on about this is that it was the first time I had a bit to do with someone in the lead up to an Ironman and as Pete was approaching the finish at Kona with the world Ironman championship crown in his grasp the whole thing became quite emotional. I had no idea that I would feel that.
A few years ago Paul Brandon was racing Ironman for the first time without the support of his wife. She had sadly passed away during the year. Whilst I only knew Paul through the Balmoral Triathlon Club I was at my second ever Ironman and to watch the emotion come out as he crossed the line to be embraced by his family and close friends was very touching.
Emotion seems to be a big driver in getting people over the line at Ironman. When you think about it how many other ‘adventures’ take up such a huge amount of preparation and then take 8-17 hours to complete while pushing your body to its extremes.
This year at Ironman Australia and Ironman Melbourne I have been fortunate to be able to be out on the course and in the finishline to cover the races from a media perspective but also to have been able to cheer on many friends who have been racing. All of their achievements have spurred me on to finally take the plunge and do my first Ironman.
Being someone who is so immersed in the triathlon world and who regularly reports on and talks with many of Australia’s top triathletes it is sometimes hard to not think that not everyone finishes in under 9 hours and can run a sub 3hr marathon.
So now I am going to experience what this Ironman thing is all about. I ran my first marathon this year. I wanted to run a marathon and enjoy it. I wanted to do this before I did an Ironman. Why? So that when I hop off my bike after 180kms the only thing in my mind would be ‘Great, now I can enjoy this Ironman thing with a nice 42km run to finish it off’.
I am a triathlete so I naturally I have been talking to a lot of people in an attempt to find the secrets that will make my first Ironman easy. Pete Jacobs tells me to focus on technique in the swim and to ‘relax’ when running. I’ll talk more about this over the next nine months. I was talking to Tim Reed last week about Cairns and we talked about swimming. Tim is an awesome runner and a strong cyclist. He was never a swimmer and has had to work harder than almost anyone to stay in touch in the big races. Like most of us, Tim has a neighbour who is an ex Olympic swimmer. (if you are going to follow this journey you need to understand that I can be very dry). Tim was telling me about the focus he has been putting on to technique. Pete keeps telling me that every stroke he makes when he is swimming he can feel what every muscle is doing. He says he is lucky that he can ‘feel’ this. Most of us can’t.
Catch you soon…
Ironman World Championship: Europeans Dominate and Records Fall
European dominance of the IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona has continued but not as the pre-race script had been written.
While Switzerland’s “Angry Bird” Daniela Ryf made it three Kona victories, it was not defending champion Jan Frodeno’s day, with the men’s championship title transferring to fellow countryman Patrick Lange.
Coming from a nine-minute deficit off the bike, Lange revelled in near perfect conditions to write himself into the IRONMAN history books to destroy the course record set in 2011 by Australian Craig Alexander, with a 2:39:59 marathon that helped deliver a total race time of 8:01:40.
In a record-breaking day, Aussie Cameron Wurf won the battle of the bikers taking control of the race at the 110km mark and leading into the bike/run transition to set a new bike course record of 4:12:54, more than five minutes faster than Normann Stadler’s 2006 record.
Wurf surrendered his lead early on in the run, as Lionel Sanders (CAN and Sebastian Kienle (GER) made their presence felt, but very quickly all eyes turned to a charging Patrick Lange who had moved into third at 21km of the marathon intent on reducing the six-minute deficit to the leading Sanders.
Lange was on a mission and keen to improve on his third place last year and with 5km to go on the run he flew past Sanders, heading for town and the adoring crowd lining the run course and the finish line on Ali’i Drive.
“It’s everything I ever dreamed of. Oh, my god, I cannot believe it,” Lange said. “I always, always, always since I was a child dreamed of having this crown. From time to time you think someone is hitting with a baseball beneath your knees and you just want to drop out. I had to fight, I had to fight so hard,” Lange said at the finish line.
A fading Sanders managed to hold off the hard-charging David McNamee (GBR) for second with Kienle and James Cunnama (ZAF) crossing the finish to take fourth and fifth.
Swiss miss Daniela Ryf joined an exclusive club at the IRONMAN World Championships, recording her third win in Kona with a very skilful and strategic victory that while remarkably effective, lacked her usual flair and total dominance.
Ryf didn’t have it all her way, with Lucy Charles dominating the swim and majority of the bike before Ryf decided that enough was enough. Ryf wrestled the lead off the Brit and charged home with the fastest run of the day, putting a nine-minute gap to her chasers by the end of the 42.2km run.
“It was the hardest I had to ever fight for the win. I’m so happy to turn it around today,” a more emotional than usual Ryf said at the finish line.
Ironman World Championship: Patrick Lange Smashes Course Record and Daniela Ryf Earns Third Straight Win
Patrick Lange (DEU) and Daniela Ryf (CHE) earned championship titles with momentous performances today at the 2017 IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i. Lange passed Lionel Sanders (CAN) in the final three miles, clocking in at 8:01:40 and establishing a new course record (formerly 8:03:56 by Craig Alexander, 2011). Ryf earned her third consecutive crown with a time of 8:50:47, joining an exclusive “three-peat” winners’ circle alongside the newest IRONMAN Hall of Fame inductee Chrissie Wellington and Natascha Badmann, Dave Scott, Paula Newby-Fraser and Mark Allen. Over 2,350 athletes from 66 countries, regions and territories on six continents started the IRONMAN World Championship race on the Island of Hawai`i in the toughest one-day endurance event in the world.
Lange, who raced in only his fourth IRONMAN to-date, had an incredible ascension after having been 17th out of the swim in today’s race. Shortly after the swim, a pack of strong cyclists including Sanders, Sebastian Kienle (GER) and Cameron Wurf (AUS) broke away from the group. Wurf would sail into T2, shattering the 2006 bike course record held by Normann Stadler (4:18:23) with a 4:12:54 split. Sanders and Kienle also smashed the record with 4:14:19 and 4:14:57 split times, respectively. On the run, Sanders took a quick lead as Kienle fell into second. Meanwhile, Lange moved from 11th place to a steady third-place position by the half-marathon marker. Lange then made a decisive pass at mile 23 on the run, as he moved ahead of Sanders to take a hold of the lead, finishing strong in first place. With a 2:39:59 run split, he was only 14 seconds away from breaking the run course record he set last year (2:39:45).
Sanders hung on for second place, ultimately concluding his race with a time of 8:04:07. David McNamee (GBR), Kienle and James Cunnama (ZAF) rounded out the top five.
McNamee had the second fastest run split of the race with 2:45:30, helping him clinch a third-place podium finish by more than two minutes ahead of Kienle.
Defending champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Jan Frodeno dug deep after back spasms slowed him first to a complete stop and then run/walk pace, mustering enough strength to finish the race.
Lucy Charles (GBR) led the professional women out of the water with a 48:48 split, missing the course record by only five seconds. After a speedy transition, Charles took the lead on the bike and had an approximately a five-and-a-half-minute lead over defending champ Daniela Ryf (CHE), Sarah Crowley (AUS) and Annabel Luxford (AUS). This pace remained consistent down the Queen Ka`ahumanu Highway until Ryf attacked, making up over five minutes over the final 25 miles of the bike, which positioned her at the front of the pack. Ryf then greatly extended her lead on the run, with Charles, Crowley and Heather Jackson (USA), fighting for the remaining podium positions.
Ryf took first at 8:50:47, almost exactly four minutes off of her own 2016 course record time of 8:46:46. Calling on her epic running abilities, the Swiss star claimed her third successive IRONMAN World Championship victory.
Charles, a Kona rookie, maintained her second-place position throughout most of the run and ultimately to the finish. Crowley rounded out the top three in her second-ever appearance at the IRONMAN World Championship, finishing her race exactly two minutes behind Charles. Jackson and Kaisa Sali (FIN) rounded out the top five women.
Ironman World Championship: The Best Run Images from Kona 2017
It’s never an easy day out when racing any Ironman race let alone the World Championship. Then add in some hot and humid weather and you really have a very tough set of conditions.
Here are some of the amazing images that were captured during today’s race.
Ironman World Championship: The Best Bike Images from Kona 2017
With the backdrop of the most infamous course in the world, the Ironman World Championship bike course never misses by the providing the most amazing landscapes for the bike course. This year was nothing short of spectacular.
Ironman World Championship: Patrick Lange Beats Sanders by a Hair for the Win & New Record
The results are in. The 2015 and 2016 winner of the Ironman World Championship triathlon in Kona, Hawaii, Jan Frodeno, suffered an injury early in the run today. This is when the world turned its eyes to Lionel Sanders of Canada, who led most of the race. That is, until the final few kilometres, when Germany’s Patrick Lange took the lead, setting a new world record of 8:01:39.
Lange came in 3rd place in the 2016 championship, following Frodeno and Sebastian Kienle, both from Germany.
As of this writing, 2015 and 2016 women’s winner Daniela Ryf is leading the women with 14km to go with Britain’s Lucy Charles behind her. This is Charles’ first Kona championship as a professional.
Sanders came in 14th and 29th place in the 2015 and 2016 races, respectively. Today was his first time making the top 10 in Kona. Earlier this year, Sanders announced that he would not compete in Kona. Later, he had a change of heart.
2017 has been a good year for Sanders. He competed in August’s International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championship, and a few Ironman 70.3’s. He won every race except the St. George 70.3, where he came in 2nd place.
Trizone predicted that Sanders would do well this year. After losing Kona in 2016, he decided to take this year’s championship very seriously. Sanders has been the wild card of the race.
Congratulations to Lange and Ryf, and to Sanders for his unexpected near-win.
Ironman World Championship: Are We Stuck with Jan Frodeno & Daniela Ryf in Hawaii Again?
It’s time again for another Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. The triathletes have already arrived on the Big Island, and sports news sites are speculating about who’s going to interrupt the winning streaks of Germany’s Jan Frodeno and Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf.
Frodeno & Ryf Are Each Going for their 3rd Consecutive Kona Win
Both Frodeno and Ryf were the winners of the 2015 and 2016 races. Frodeno pulled ahead of Germany’s Sebastian Kienle by 3:32 in 2016 and Andreas Raelert, also from Germany, by 3:03 in 2015. In the 2016 women’s race, Ryf led Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae by 23:44. She beat Britain’s Rachel Joyce by 13:02 in 2015.
Most of Ryf’s Rivals Dropped Out
Many of Ryf’s past competitors are not competing this year. Carfrae has a newborn baby. Canada’s Heather Wurtele, who opted out of this race, came in 3rd place in the 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championship, leaving Ryf in 4th. The winner of that race was Holly Lawrence of Britain, who is also not competing this year.
Ryf’s Competition Could Still Be Fierce
The three rivals for Ryf to look out for are Heather Jackson of the USA, Rachel Joyce of Britain, and Melissa Hauschildt of Australia. Hauschildt made 2nd place in the 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championship, and Ryf finished behind her by 3:00 to land 4th Place.
In the 2013 70.3, Jackson won 2nd place, losing to Hauschildt by 5:12. Ryf came in 6th, finishing 3:27 behind Jackson.
Who Should Frodeno Be Afraid Of?
The conversation around Jan Frodeno centres around two other German guys, Sebastian Kienle and Patrick Lange. Kienle won the 2014 Hawaii championship. Frodeno settled for 3rd place and followed behind Kienle with 8:20:32 vs 8:14:18. USA’s Ben Hoffman came in 2nd place.
These are the guys Frodeno has to worry about most.
Frodeno’s Possible Wild Card Nemesis
Another contender who could give Frodeno a run for his money is Lionel Sanders of Canada. He won 11 out of 11 races in 2013 and has won a lot of them since. Sanders, who almost skipped this year in favour of the 70.3 World Championship, missed the top 10 in Kona for the past two years in a row. He said he did not take the championship seriously in 2016, and he vows to do better this year.
Sanders is known for rapid improvement and the ability to surprise people with wins in the races he truly sets his mind to winning. He’s also known for performing below expectations now and then. Rest assured, he’s serious about Kona this time. He would not have signed up otherwise.
This May Not Be Totally Boring After All
Well, this is the data. We can leave it up to the reader to decide who will win Hawaii’s Ironman.
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