This weekend was ‘championshipsweekend’, with the Northern American Ironman championships in Texas (USA) for Cai and Sam, the French duathlon championships on the long distance for Hans, Séb, Steven and Inge and the national sprintduathlon championships for Wim adrenaline would rush through the veins. For sure!
The good about these sports are that if you are prepared well, you are ready for racing! With dedication to the raceplan (and nutrition) the rest follows normally! If it’s hot (30-35°C in Texas) or cold (8°C in France and cold rain all race long) that doesn’t matter. Shape decides what will happen, all the rest are sidestories.
In Texas, both Sam and Cai took off well during the swimstart. Somehow Cai found herself closed in a bit during the swim but despite that both athletes got on their bikes in +/- the time that was planned. And then, the race starts for real!
On the bike Sam had to close down a 10′ gap with his opponents in the M40. With topathletes such as Dan Stubleski, Mosley and others it would a nice race to follow.
39Pro athletes also at the starting line, many points to gather for the KPR-ranking, important to get to Kona! This strong field and perfect weather conditions (as in almost no wind) would lead to a legendary race with several records broken! Matt Hanson for example ran the off bike marathon (42.1km) in 2h34′ after 3.8K swim and 180K bike. This day in Texas will be remembered. But not only by the toprange of Pro athletes racing it.
Soon it became clear that Sam was moving up in his race, of course this is a well known fact in Ironman, but you still have to do it! With the flat and straight roads it was a good race to pace very consistent.
Despite the groups Sam had to overtake, which made him push a bit harder of course, he felt great on his bike and never found himself into trouble.
In the very end of the race Sam was clearly going a bit harder than his nearest opponents, of which a few just behind him. So it would also become a tactical race, once off the bike! After 4h18′ the bike was put in T2. A quick calculation made us already dream of a very fast time. But as everyone knows, in a LD triathlon you better don’t dream. You have to do it.
Cai from her side was asked to pace at 150watts and keep her HR around 145BPM. She did what she had to do and also felt very good on the bike, enjoying her race she moved up A LOT untill she got on 8th place in her AG in the end of the bikecourse.
With 10women within 3′ in this AG all would be played during the run!
A lot of questions about the fast bikesplits in Texas, but the answer on the real bike length is simple. 176km (as in many Ironman races), no wind…and unfortunately indeed no referees controlling the ‘bunch’ of athletes. The better cyclists of course have no benefit of this. The ‘bunch’ has. A pity! It made many athletes come off the bike close together. But as Sam said this morning. Once you start running…’the masks fall off’.
The first kilometers of the run Sam started in a good pace, despite that he was passed by a couple of athletes who were running at 2h45′ pace. Wise decision of Sam not to follow but follow his own pace. Once the athletes were approaching halfway the runcourse it became clear that race opponents of Sam were the guys that were predicted. The athletes starting too fast were left behind. Stubleski in first place, Caron and Mosley were the guys who would be there untill the finishline. And no one to underestimate of course.
At kilometer 35 Sam had a 3′ gap behind Stubleski, at that point…it seemed that 2nd place was the highest possible thing to achieve and still ready to finish below 8h30′ with a fast marathon!
That marathon was fast, and in the last kilometers Sam went all out and closed down the gap to 30″ at 40.1km! 30″ behind with 2K to go…Stubleski and Sam in a nice battle, with the last 2km of Sam pushing it all the way he finished….9″ before Stubleski!
Sam never ran in 1st position during the whole race untill the very end…how nice is that! But also a big thumb up to Stubleski, making the race hard during the marathon. Athletes can lift eachother to a higher level during a clean battle!
For the 3rd year in a row he gets sub 3h on the marathon, in Texas he even broke his fastest marathontime in an Ironman!
The result of Sam is the result of a real AG athlete with a full-time job, thinking no-nonsense, enjoying it all and putting in the effort where needed. That sub8h30′ was just a matter of time.
We would almost forget to say, but Sam did qualify for Hawaii of course. Where he will race for the 9th!! time! But first, rest!
In Kona he will join Van, Bert and Tony, our other athlete who already qualified earlier!
In the female race it was Cai who ran a good marathon and was able to finish her race in 11h10′! Finishing 10th in her AG was a very honest result. The female AG’s don’t have the quantity of slots that the male athletes have. With only 1-3 slots divided in the Ironmans it’s not easy to get one but still chances to go!
In France, all eyes on the national championships long distance duathlon (10-80-10). With 4of our athletes, the race was one of the maingoals of this spring for these athletes.
Hans won the race in Douai already, but now it had the championship label…and that’s what you could notice from the start! A very fast start with several athletes running the first 10K in 30-32′ here. With Hans heading towards transition in 17th position, Séb and Steven ran a bit further and Inge in 8th position in the female race they entered T1.
The bikecourse in Douai is full with roundabouts, turnings, ‘faux plats’ and wind…always wind! Today there was some extra with rain all day long 🙂 Well, if you come from Flanders…that must give wings!
On the bike Hans decided not take risks on these dangerous roads, but halfway the first lap…the speaker already noticed he moved up towards 13th position. At that point it was only Jean Eudes Demaret (Former Cofidis pro cyclist and 2016 Elite national champion triathlon) who rode slightly harder. Behind that it was Hans who had to face 2 little groups. Strong as he is, the further the athletes went in the race … the more he moved forward. To finally put down his bike in 7th position! Excellent! A top 10 in this field would have been a great job!
Séb came back to Steven on the bike and both athletes moved up well during this bikecourse. Inge from her side, a bit afraid of the weather before the race, had strong legs and after the bikecourse she put down the bike 3rd! Very close to number 2 and with a good gap behind her.
In this type of LD duathlons the places are not divided in the first run, not on the bike…but during the 2nd run…with Hans putting down the bike 7th and a 1’30” -3′ gap on the faster runners of Run1 it seemed impossible to still move up places. But from the first kilometers Hans had a good pace. His running style looked relaxed and with a 2′ gap behind him he only had to look in front of him! In front of the field a couple of athletes were crashing as usually on the long distance.
After 5km Hans still was 7th, but in those last 5km a lot happened in front of the race and suddenly Hans appeared very close to number 5 and 6, which he overtook in the last kilometer. Jean Eudes Demaret crashed totally in the last 5K and his 4′ advantage melted down fast! With only 7″ left at the finishline Hans finishes 5th today in this field!
Steven had some bad luck today and got a drafting penalty, missed the turning for the 2nd loop and because of this he ran an extra 800m.
Séb from his side did an excellent race, he builded up from behind and finishes 45th after an excellent 2nd run. Ready for the LD triathlons coming now!
In the female race Inge never looked giving back her 3rd place at another competitor. A focussed 2nd run in which she has to learn to be confident. If there’s suffering, everyone is suffering! Finishing 3rd on these national championships is another step she made! With Ironman Zurich in July she has her first Full distance triathlon coming! If you can do this today, the Ironman will be peanuts ;-)!
After France, back to Belgium…in which the national sprint duathlon championship was held. Normally I don’t like sending athletes to this format. Because of the lottery aspect in it. But with Wim, we have a very particular athlete. A fast and steady runner with more and more cycling experience also. In the master category this was his only medal missing in Belgium after 2years of duathlon! And once again this strong master showed his fast legs by getting into T1 first. But with his opponents not changing shoes he missed the train towards T2. It made him chase the leaders on the bike, but with not enough cooperation it was the bronze medal that was the highest possible to get! And he did! First maingoal of the season for Wim accomplished! Now full focus on the European long distance championships, which will be followed by the nationals in May!