Tuesday, 28 June 2016

June 26th 2016 Ironman 70.3 Wimbleball, Exmoor, UK

1.9km Swim 90km Bike 21km Run - Temperature 15oF

Swim 30:09 - T1 04:30 - Bike 03:06:10 - T2 02:01 – Run 01:32:17 Total Time 5:15:07

50-54 Age Group Champion, 53rd overall

I last did this race in 2012 and left promising myself that having nailed a decent time, I didn’t need to come back and batter myself yet again. I have no doubt that this is the toughest course on the Ironman 70.3 circuit with over 5500ft elevation on the bike and 1700ft on the half marathon. I guess it’s like marmite, you either love it or hate it. I am no fan of marmite but something about this course is really cool, maybe the simple challenge of trying to red line such a challenging course or perhaps the constant variation in topography and the beautiful vistas. Anyway, I signed up and looked forward to battering myself again.

The swim was the rolling start format and it actually worked well for me. It was a small field, less than 1400 athletes, so I could plop myself on the front line and have a crack at hanging on to some fast feet. So, we had the national anthem (?) and then were let loose. Without the usually punch up in the opening 100m I was able to sight well and hunt round for some decent feet. The field quickly become fairly strung out so finding a good draft proved to be more the exception than the rule but still, I was able to swim at a consistent effort and put in a season PB.

It’s a 400m run up the grassy hill to T1 and then a short jog to the mount line. With the AWA scheme and no pro field my race number was lucky 13; this meant I was pretty much the first bike on the racking by the exit which felt kinda cool. The small field and my push for the front line meant the transition area was pretty quiet as I made my way through and the usual melee of wobbling bike mounts and ejected nutritional debris was absent.

I set to work on the bike with my aim to push hard to see what I could produce for the three hour effort. There were a few bikes up the road and a few of the faster guys coming by but on the whole, it was uneventful save busting a gut on some of the steeper hills. I was gunning for three hours but it’s always dangerous setting time goals, conditions will always vary and being a hostage to a time will almost always lead to disappointment and demotivation at crucial points in the race.

A tidy T2 and out onto the run. It’s just impossible to establish any sort of rhythm on the course, just a constant up and down with a multitude of running surfaces to contend with. It’s a three lap affair so really nice to break up the task ahead and just tick off the hills and laps as they come round. I ran mostly within myself but upped the tempo and bent myself a little out of shape on the last lap.

It wasn’t my best time but I was pleased to bag the win after Staffordshire and left hungry for the next challenge.

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