Yesterday Ironman Hawaii 2017 was held, the World championships Ironman and that one race everybody follows and skips a night for 😉
Our athletes had a good preparation, Sam had after his 11th place (2nd AG overall) end of July in Lake Placid (USA) and Ironman South Africa in April ( 2nd AG overall) 2 good races in his pocket this season. After Lake Placid training went well, the last weeks before departure he sometimes had to find the small gaps in his time schedule and finished training at 2am. But without a no-nonsense mentality from time to time, no combination of topsport and a fulltime job!
That last part also counts for Pierre, our other athlete in Kona! For Pierre it was his 2nd participation, for Sam his 8th (!)
Pierre from his side had a blocked back in the last 3 weeks before the race and we had to skip a week of training. Fortunately his shape was well. And with 2 Ironmans done this season, confidence was at its place.
During the swimming part the target for both was to keep contact with their racegoals. For Pierre that was a sub 1h15′ swim in the Ocean. For Sam it was getting as close as it could out of the water compared to the other favourites in his AG. With a 1h05′ swim, Sam did the same swim as last year, and never swam better in Kona. Pierre got out in 1h12′! Perfect, everybody on the bike in a good time. Always good for the mental part in the race!
Once on the bike Sam moved up fast, before the race we spoke about a defensive and very realistic pacing plan. Hoping this would end up in a fast and economically paced racing time!
Pierre got the message to pace at 215-230watts, and never to go higher during the race.
Both athletes were pacing perfectly and gained >600 places in the overall race.
Heading towards Hawi he started coming close to the best AG racers already!
Overtaking a group of 15-20 athletes (wheel in wheel) Sam had a motorbike with a referee in his back. Which he knew…So he followed the rules to certainly not bump into a card by an athlete blocking. When he overtook the whole group the referee on the motorbike gave him a card. Why????!!!! was his logical question…’Drafting’ she said!
He swallowed the penalty, and stood still for 5minutes! A a lot of athletes who he took back in the first half of the race could retake him. Which of course makes it difficult AGAIN, having to pass these athletes again. An athlete riding the FASTEST pace of the whole AG bunch at that moment, passing 600 athletes…is not drafting dearest ‘referee’.
But ok, things are as they are…we immediately noticed that he lost quite some places after 122K…and now we know why. After this ‘penalty’ Sam moved up again and was capable of coming off the bike in 5th position in his AG! Within 6′ of the later winner Huhndorf.
Before the race we marked 2 topfavourites for the world title: Stubleski (USA – multiple IM AG world champion and current 70.3 world champion) and Olivier Godart (Lux-IM Pro untill January 1st 2017). Despite his 5′ penalty Sam still rode the FASTEST AG split, and the 4th overall AG split. Without that penalty Sam would have put down a 4h38’50” bikesplit and the 2nd overall AG bikesplit behind Jakob Wissum (Denmark) and in touch of the first AG already. An athlete in that position always have an ‘extra effort’ in the pocket!
Pierre on the otherhand was pacing like asked, while temperatures got warmer and warmer and went up to 37°C with a lot of humidity. Today would become a tough day for all competitors! The feeling of being cooked slowly became to enter the body of Pierre. The run, his topdiscipline would become hard he felt. HR was right, and not heading out too fast out of T2 would become an important issue!
Pierre ran a quite regular run course in Kona, but on a pace that wasn’t his normal pace…and that would be like this for a lot of athletes yesterday in Kona. Frodeno, Kienle, Sanders,…they all had a point where they ran into a wall. But these Pro athletes surely have a higher base-tempo to fall back on.
In the AG race, no athlete ran faster than 3h02’…knowing the best of the best amateur athletes are racing in Kona, that’s not ‘hyperfast’.
But Pierre managed to not crack down and finish the race in 10h35′, which he may be very proud of. The blocked back a few weeks ago almost did us think the worst.
On the run course Sam was in battle for the podium a few minutes behind the first athletes in his AG and working his way to an overall top 50. Knowing 50Male Pro athletes may take part of this race, only the best of the best get there, this motivated of course!
The run began well, but very soon Sam kept a good eye on his heartrate, the heat was getting in to his body and he wisely decided to only pace HR wise to survive this tough marathon. After a few miles into the run Sam was spotted 7th. This place he could hold on to untill the end. A tough run today for Sam who took his time to hydrate at the drinkstations and finish well! Sam gets 7th on the world champs today, after a good race with some bad luck followed by a hot run in which he could defend his spot. Without that penalty I am quite sure he finishes very close to another WC podium!
Next to 7th place in his AG (40-44) Sam also showed he’s still there finishing 68th overall, 3rd Belgian (behind Aernouts and a strong Montoisy)!
Very proud of our athletes racing thé endurance event in the world, Ironman world championships, Hawaii.
See you next year: Tony, Van and Bert already qualified and looked at yesterday’s race with big eyes!
But can Sam and Pierre requalify? That’s the question!
Train smart, perform better!