This was one of my favourite races so far.. Challenge really look after the athletes and put on a great event!
Lake Walschee was perfect conditions for race morning and the swim went well after a physical deep water start.
Swim – 27:05
The 2 loop bike course was fairly quick even tho there was over 900m of climbing, it helped that there were alot of strong German cyclists to pace off. The route went through steep farm land and narrow private lanes which stretched the groups out. It was a crystal clear day and the temperature was a bit cold for the start of the bike, needing arm warmers especially on the descents. By T2 the sun was out and the temperature was up close to 30 degrees for the run.
Bike – 2:23
Onto the run, 3 loops around the scenic lake side trail. Lots to look at and a very vocal crowd helps the run fly by and before I knew it I was coming down the big Challenge finish area with the long red carpet
The South coast of France is so impressive, Crystal clear waters, hot sunny weather and lots of steep mountains! The perfect setting for an awesome Ironman course. The France Ironman in Nice is known as one of the hardest courses on the circuit. With the biggest field of over 2700 athletes, all competitors start the swim at once (beach start diving in off the rocky shore), the cycle has over 2500m of vertical ascending and the dead flat 4 loop run course is a scorching 35+ degrees with no shelter or shade!
The Swim start is a chaotic place to be in any race let alone starting with 2700 athletes all at once off a beach of boulders, my swim was OK but didn’t feel as good as I was hoping, my shoulder was still recovering from a pinched nerve and wasn’t comfortable when I pushed too hard. I was pleased to exit the water in 1:00 and head out onto the bike. The scenery was incredible and helped to keep your mind off the pain of all the climbs. The biggest climb was 21km long and windy, it was hard to watch as my average speed was diminishing , but I was still passing alot of cyclists and an awesome descent making the most of the closed roads and came into T2 after a bike split of 5:22 in 11th place in age. The run was hotter than anything I had experienced before so I was very careful with keeping the fluids and nutrition up. athletes were collapsing and sitting down all over the place and I was worried that maybe I was setting out too fast for the conditions.. I felt good the whole way and managed to press on and win my age group. My marathon time of 3:10 was over 10mins quicker than 2nd place.
I wasn’t expecting to do as well as I did in this race and ended up winning my age group by over 18 minutes in 9:40, and qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.
This Half Ironman was the inaugural event for Italy, situated at the Adriatic seaside in small town called Pescara. The Italians know how to do the ‘Pasta Parties’ really well with fresh local produce, it was the tastiest one ive ever experienced!
The Ocean swim was inside a break water and was a 1km ‘out and back’ along the shore. It was a wave start so was quite hard to tell who was ahead of who once we got out onto the bike. Quite a hilly course through the Abruzzo county side and finishing with a 3 lap beach front run along the promenade in the stifling heat.
I had a solid swim exiting in 26 minutes and was able to get into a good group of cyclists to pace off. I only took my TT bike away and it was soon clear why most of the field had chosen to race on road bikes.. Some steep inclines early on split up the field but I was able to regain some lost time coming into a nice strong head wind on the last flatter part of the loop.
The run quickly became congested as everyone converged on the 3 lap course, I was happy with my 1:21 half marathon in the 32+degree heat after the challenging bike. This was enough to earn 2nd in age group and fastest run split.