Ironman world championships Hawaii 2016, A thriller till the last mile!

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.


The swimstart with Sam, Pierre and Heather among thousands of athletes in Hawaii. Hopefully they won’t touch the mass-start in Kona. It’s thé image of the race!


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.



The 4h25′ of Michael Weiss (Pro,Austria)  normalizing 318NP, Weiss is 5kg heavier than Sam. Calculate yourself the physical effort he was producing…

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!


Dividing work – family – sports isn’t always easy for AG athletes, as we can see Pierre handled this very well. An irregular working schedule needs to be efficient. Making the right choices at the right time is a key to success!


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.


Heather on the bike towards her Hawaiifinish!


Heather suffered of blocked nerve and this made us made choices, choices to start in Hawaii in a good shape and still being capable of racing well! Fortunately she had a great summer before!

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.


Sam during his fast 3h05 marathon in Hawaii, which brought him to a 3rd spot

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.


Today Sam had no constant HR in the ironman, he went out of his comfortzone, chasing the podium and getting it at 1,5miles before the finishline! With all respect for his concurrents who made him race this way.

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 ;-)!



Happy 3rd in his AG and 59th overall – back on the podium in Kona! It was former PRO Jim Lubinski who took the win!

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…).

Times: 1h05′-4h51-3h05

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!


Pierre finished the race in 10h07′ after moving up a whole day and finished with a 3h22′ marathon!

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!


Great performance in Ironman Mount Tremblant – 8th and AG win for Sam!

16th of August once again we had someone with ambitions racing in an Ironman with a decent pro field of which we pointed out Jordan Rapp (USA) and Paul Ambrose (AUS) were the top of the field.  Ambrose won the 2015 Ironman Australia and Rapp is a multiple Ironman winner….

Sam’s ambition was clearly to win his agegroup, enjoy the race and do a good nutritional and racing test with Hawaii coming in 2 months. First things first, in the last months of preparation we must say everything went well in his sessions. Figures were good, no injuries and a good health. Which of course means a lot in preparation of a big race. It was clearly he was capable to do a good race.

Athletes never train the same amount or intensity all year long. Recovery is an important issue when it comes to periodisation. Never forget that if you want to approach your goals. Get the balance!

Athletes never train the same amount or intensity all year long. Recovery is an important issue when it comes to periodisation. Never forget that if you want to approach your goals. Get the balance!

Swimming and Sam, don’t tell me that doesn’t work for the 100th time. His swim was  were we liked it to be, within the limits of being in the game.

What if he could swim faster? That question has been asked to me for at least 20times the past 48hours. How many times he must have heard that? How I answered it in my opinion…

1) If  you swim a 1h04 Ironmanswim, you DO can swim, and if it’s not your best discipline so be it. Live with it, act with it and try to focus on the positive things in it. Sam is now training every week 1 of xx sessions on getting a different, more efficient stroke and  power has an other input…

My suggestion:

Sam is now focusing once per week on improving his stroke and getting more efficient, power and endurance in other sessions. Let’s see, I believe he can swim a 1h00-1h02. But if he does, it must be done as economic as he swims now…if not, I rather see him swimming a 1h05.

2)The swim is only 1/9 of an Ironmanrace, you better lose  5’/h there than on the bike or run… US pro athlete Jim Lubinski prooves that being steady over 3disciplines can bring you to a good performance on prolevel, just saying… successfull and fast triathlon is still a combination of all three disciplines.

3) I will tell you in person if you ask. Sometimes I can be a bit ‘direct’

It's not because a discipline is not your 'top'discipline that it's not a good discipline. You can not get in top10 of an Ironman if you are not at least reasonable good in all disciplines.

It’s not because a discipline is not your ‘top’discipline that it’s not a good discipline. You can not get in top10 of an Ironman if you are not at least reasonable good in all disciplines. Look, this is how we approached the last block of 3 months towards Canada.

On the bike Sam had to get in the rhythm after some wetsuitwrestling (he won the fight, and it would not be his last one that day), but once he was in the rhythm the hilly track was really his cup of tea. Sam is someone who thinks about his bike, his gear and also keeps on improving and tinkering around with it. He astonished me last time, when he showed me the hole he cut into his frame for an internal hydration system. It has its purpose, but you must dare to do it. On the bike Sam really flew and despite the more easy beginning he established a strong 290NP. For the cyclists among you, you can compare this to an average poweroutput of an average (pro)continental cycling race over the same distance. (data from our own cyclists elite/pro, proven over different races  – difference in weight 2-5kg) Of course there is a big difference in power and heartrate and the length of these.  But all of that, is another topic.

The quality of the bike course was very high - how did Sam approach the race HRwise, flat!

The quality of the bike course was very high – how did Sam approach the race HR wise, flat! With a good nutrition plan and of course a correctly trained body it’s possible to stay steady.

Sam came off of the bike with a good feeling and directly took the pace that was planned to race on. A fast move out of T2… and see what happens. A marathon after the bike is unpredictable, but there must be a plan, and offcourse we advise you to have a plan B also if you would try this. Looking in to his data we see following things.

After a fast start on the run, the drop was not heavy. An athlete who was capable of running steady till the end on hilly run course.

After a fast start on the run, the drop was not that big towards the end. An athlete who was capable of running steady till the end on hilly run course.

Sam had a 4’18/km after 37K, at the end of the race he averaged 4’25/km on the full 42,1km. He focussed on the first AGplace, he was sure of winning at that point and it made him run more comfortable. In Hawaii for sure he will be pushed by many other very strong  AG athletes, who will try to win the AG race! Let’s hope Sam can be amongst those warriors.

Thumbs up for this performance! 8th and a victory added for a passionated athlete!

Thumbs up for this performance! 8th and AGwin for a passionated athlete!

And now…realising a big performance always comes with questions…will he be in shape for Hawai, will he be recovered? I believe he will, health and accidents can always happen. But if he reaches the swimstart in Hawai in this shape, he will perform well!

Hammer on the block for Sam, congratulations...earned every day, every week of the year!

Hammer on the block for Sam, congratulations…earned every day, every week of the year!