Kona, that’s where the magic happens. Many athletes dream about it and each year the race shows why! Kona creates heroes, Kona reveals the hero inside of people. For sure that wouldn’t be different this year! 4of our athletes qualified this season and were ready to step into a dream of suffering, racing and heroes!
One of our athletes, Dave, couldn’t race Kona this year because of birth of his 2kids. Fortunately he didn’t register because 2weeks after his qualifier he got hit by a car and broke a vertebra. This was followed by 6weeks lying in bed/couch. Let’s say the start of dreaming about his future adventure in Kona!
The three athletes who did qualify and race were Heather,Pierre and Sam.
All 3 of them were keen on doing their best result that day, but also to have fun in racing in the most densified Ironman in the world! Without Hawaii, triathlon didn’t even exist!
3 different agegroups also:
-Heather (Canada) AG F45-49
-Pierre (Belgium) AG M35-39
-Sam (Belgium) AG M40-44
The swimming start always is and will be a bit of nervous and stressy. Because of the highly densified level; in Hawaii the swim is even more important than in other IMraces. Our athletes knew this and tried to get out of the water with a comfortable and fast swim.
Sam was the first one out of the water in 1h05′, which meant his fastest swim in Hawaii on 7participations. Pierre was one of the few athletes who swam faster in Kona than in his qualifying race, while Heather as being a very good swimmer she tackled some extra meters during the swim in 1h06′. So all athletes were immediately in the game for a nice result after the swimcourse!
On the bike we noticed that our athletes moved up, Pierre constantly kept passing athletes (and pelotons) and moved up 400places during the bike course! Heather definitely looked for a comfortable bikeride dealing with the warmth and the wind. It’s not an advantage for the AG women to start around 1h later than the male pro’s. They get the largest part of the heat. This in fact, makes the race even more difficult to the AGwomen than the pro men.
People immediately messaged me that Sam was moving up quite hard, looking closer at that point we noticed that Sam was riding the same pace as…the main group of the Pro race. With splits as hard as Frodeno and Kienle he rode till 80km in the race. Immediately after seeing this I had a flashback to what happened 1year ago. Only this time we didn’t know his HR/powerdevice didn’t work. So he was forced to race at a ‘feeling’. That’s why on the bike we registered no HR’s. BUT we could get back the info of the powermeter after the race!
Today, looking at the registered info we see regularly parts of 400watts during 45″-1′ and even a block of 20′ in it at 335watts avg. Those parts are parts where he needed to pass pelotons and lose them.
At least we know what’s needed to handle a bikecourse on the level of Sebastian Kienle, Jan Frodeno…but honestly, it’s a bit too much asked. He came off the bike with a 272NP which is +/-10% less than his best Ironman-splits. Starting hard in combination with warmth affects performance.
Of course in that first part of the bike course Sam is someone who needs to ride to the front, which is not always easy to race at a constant pace because of big peloton’s he needs to catch. This certainly wasn’t in the advantage of Pierre also, who came out of the water in position 1300 and had to chase many athletes getting more to the front.Despite all of this there was no panic in Sam his head and trying to get the effort down he slowed down preparing the run..knowing he had suffered already a bit. Meanwhile his girlfriend Cai texted me to know in what position he found himself when he would come off the bike.
Pierre only had a few km to go on the bike and Heather was doing a steady bikecourse! Pierre was even heading towards a sub10h on this tough racecourse. Most of all it was the heat of which I feared for Pierre, I knew if he came off the bike well he was capable to show us a good marathon in the end!
For Heather the race came early after a blocked nerve she needed to handle. A perfect preparation till 2,5weeks before the Ironman and then that nerve got blocked. It needed time to be raceready and we needed to cut short the running part and focus on what do was possible.
Sam came off the bike 11th (AG) and rode the 6th overall AG bikesplit (of the athletes who finished top 100…), despite his ‘saving energy mode’ in the last part of the bikecourse.
On the run he took off relaxed, but still felt the impact of racing slightly too hard in the beginning of the race. 8,5kilometers he needed to get the engine running and still passed the 21k mark at 4’26/km. If you run this pace you know you are running among the faster runners in Hawaii. We knew of last year that running sub 3h is difficult…as nobody went under 3h in 2015 (AG). So we could get the info that halfway he was definitely in the game for the podium and was the only athlete getting faster and faster at that point.
From the 21K mark, nobody in his AG ran faster. It was just a matter of time to move up in places! 6K before the finishline Sam was in fourth and gave it all (see HR). It was Cai who could give him the info to chase French athlete Mettier in 3rd position. With only 1,5miles to go Sam overtook 3rd position and didn’t let his go anymore. At the end Sam ran a negative split marathon in 3h05′ (4’23/km). Only 1 AG athlete was capable of going sub 3h01.
On the podium, again! This 3rd place on the Ironman Worlds feels great! An athlete in great shape who gets his 4th Ironman podium within 18months. The cyclingsessions starting at 9pm and finishing at 2am in the morning were worth it ;-)!
Ok, we knew there maybe was more in it, when the pacing on the bike went perfectly…but humans are no computers. And computers may sometimes not function when u want them to…(ahum some will laugh…).
Pierre who already had a whole day of catching up people on the bike, did the same on the run. Once again he took back 400 athletes (1 each 100m) on the marathon. Running a 3h22′ marathon in Hawaii is great, he showed to everybody he belongs at this level and paced/raced his race alone. No drafting, no cards …just effort!
At that moment Heather was approaching halfway the marathon, she ran consistently…But still we crossed the fingers to hope the nerve didn’t get blocked again. It didn’t and she even moved up places during the run finishing just over 12h. A pity her swim didn’t came out, because she sure is capable swimming sub 55′ in Hawaii!
Those athletes became heroes yesterday, finishing world’s most magical triathlon and a podium on top!
Oh and the drafting, it’s easy to solve if they want it. Use drones or helikopters for filming spots and longer moments and DSQ behind the screen to have a good point of view. Show the DSQ athletes their card at the beginning of the run and give them a 60′ penalty. Case closed 😉
Proud coach, it was a fun night!