When you can say you’re 6th at the IM 70.3 World Champs…

It’s taken me some time to come around to writing this, mostly because I don’t really believe it happened, and was waiting to see more finisher photos for it to sink in. Which it kinda has.

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It definitely wasn’t a flat course with 650m climb on the bike – but the headwind for the first 40 km was a bigger obstacle.

So on the 1st of September was I took part in the IM 70.3 World Championships in South Africa, my first time racing any sort of Championship race as a pro.

My plan was to go for experience, of course race as hard as possible, but with limited expectations. So here’s an account of how the race went down from my perspective.

The World Champs was split into two days: day 1 being women’s day, and day 2 being men’s day. I have never raced in such a format, but have to say that I really enjoyed it. It meant that the women had a ‘true race’ if you like, with no additional parameters that varied depending on where you came out the water (ie age group men coming out the water with you and pacing you etc).

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Can you spot me? Sarah True (green hat), Heather Wurtele, Jeanni Seymour, ME, Daniela Ryf, Agnieszka Jerzyk. P.C Talbot Cox

After the swim warm up, the pro females lined up, waiting for the opening ceremony. I don’t think I appreciated this as much as I should have, mainly because I was trying not to think of the race as a big deal, and doing my best to ignore the show in an effort to appease the nerves. I guess it kinda worked apart from the moment it caught up with me on the bike and I was a little sick in my mouth.

I was ranked high enough to be called out at the beginning and choose my line up position on the start line, which is beneficial to get a straighter line to the first buoy.

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With the 2nd group on the bike – Sarah True and Pamella Oliviera behind me. It was cold and windy and I was unblocking my nose…

When the gun, wait no, cannon, went off, the women ran down the beach and into the waves to start the 1.9km sea swim. The water was cold and burned my head in that explosive kind of way. But, unsurprisingly, there were enough distractions to think about, most importantly who was where and why was someone unnecessarily pulling me under. I got out of that situation and stuck on some feet. Coming out of the water, I realized that I was in the lead chasing pack behind Lucy Charles, alongside six others including Daniela Ryf, Anne Haug, Radka Vodickova and Sarah True.

We hurried through transition, with crowds screaming as we hopped on our bikes. It was then a 90 km bike ride, undulating with some steeper and longer climbs in the middle section. A strong headwind on the way out, that turned into a nice tailwind on the way back. I rode with a group of 5 girls, with Daniela shooting past us up the first hill – ironically named Mt Pleasant.

We stayed riding 12m apart, with lots of marshalls patrolling up and down as well as tv crews. At the turnaround we got a glimpse of the race leaders Daniela leading Lucy who were a few km in front of us. I could tell how far ahead they were by tracking the helicopter that was following them.

On the way back, I took the front of the group for 10 or so km, trying to keep consistent and the pace up as I was aware that in the 2nd chase group a couple minutes back were some very strong runners.

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In A LOT of pain in the last 1km of the fastest 1/2 marathon of my life to date. Good day to PB on!

Off the bike and into T2, which for once I felt I nailed coming out first from our riding pack and in 3rd position overall! This didn’t last for too long as Anne Haug effortlessly skipped past my, on a hunt for 2nd place which she dug 4 minutes into but finished 3rd in the end.

Meanwhile, I was caught by Radka Vodickova who I hadn’t raced in a couple of years, while she’d casually had a baby. I let her pace me and it swapped a couple of times. I didn’t look at my watch, as I knew if I wanted to hang onto a top position, slowing down was not an option as the runners behind would catch pretty quickly.

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Running side by side with Radka Vodickova. PC Talbot Cox

We ran like this from the 2nd to the 16th kilometer, when the Brazilian girl Oliviera, who had been sitting 20-30m behind us the whole race pounced just before the final uphill to the last turnaround. My legs broke on the final downhill, and the last 3km were a struggle to the finish, trying to mentally and physically keep it together as I knew the girls behind me were gaining.

The crowds and support the whole way along the course were absolutely phenomenal, and kept me moving right to the very end.

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Imo’s look of finish line relief

I crossed the line in 6th place overall, absolutely elated but also physically destroyed. It was straight to the massage tent being crutched by my mother to avoid the legs cramping as it was on the brink of happening.

When your legs ‘go’ like mine did that day, and you still have a few km to run on them, you know that the recovery is going to be hard.

A few races left this season and starting to think about the main goals for 2019. How time flies!

Thank you to all my supporters, family, friends, people who have given me advice and worked with me to get me fit and healthy. In particular Jurgen Zack and my parents for their support and putting up with me. Also to my sponsors for helping me achieve my goals; Z-Coaching Phuket, Maserati, White and Wong, Revv Energy Thailand, Jiakina Customized, Sailfish, Project Artisan Layan Phuket, and excited to announce the start of my partnership with Tappit – check’em out for events…end of season is coming!

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Rapperswil 70.3

I opened my European race season with IM Rapperswil 70.3 at the beginning of June. I often get asked how I choose my races, and of course there are a variety of reasons. But at Rapperswil, the beautiful scenery and amazing spectators, particularly when running around with the Swiss flag on your bib, are unbeatable.

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Amazing support the whole way around the course at 70.3 Rapperswil

I was relatively relaxed going into the race, and really looking forward to being back on a startline after 6 weeks away from it. I had done the race once before, and been up to do a bike recce beforehand to calm the nerves a bit. So here’s how it went.

The swim was perhaps my favourite bit of the day. The gun went and I swam hard, with the aim to try and see if I could stick on Daniela Ryf’s feet. We’ve been doing a fair bit of work on my swim for the first half of the year, and it paid off, that and my new Sailfish wetsuit. A pb of 24.34 over the 1900m, and coming out just behind Daniela and with no one I could see too close on our tails.

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2nd out the water on the feet of Daniela

Onto the bike, and I was a touch slow through transition, and by the time I was settled on the bike, Daniela had flown away. The first loop of the hilly bike course I did mainly alone, with a couple of the male pros we caught in the swim floating around. I held myself back up the hills, knowing there were plenty of them, and also aware of the infamous “Stairway to Heaven” on the run.

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Out of T1 with my personal escort 

Onto the second loop of the bike and suddenly the whole vibe changed. The age-groupers were on the course and the roads weren’t quite so clear. Luckily, I had the motorbike in front trying to keep the road clear.

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Almost wanted to stop to take in the view 😉 

The nature of the course is that there are some sharp climbs, which became a real problem when there were so many people on the course not respecting the rules. There are strict and fair rules in Ironman racing, and when you are being followed by a race official, the smallest error can cost you dearly. I had to work to overtake people riding in the middle of the road on their left hand side, all without crossing the middle line. Not straightforward.

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And of course, then it was onto the run, and I was given my splits to the other girls as I made my way through transition, and carried on receiving the updates from various incredible supporters around the course. My legs didn’t feel too fresh, but I was holding an ok pace. After lap 1 (of 2) I realised that if I could hold it steady and not be broken by the 2nd climb up the infamous Stairway, then it was unlikely I’d get caught.

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Enjoying perhaps the only bit of shade on the run course

It was an incredible feeling come down the finish shoot, high fiving mum just before crossing the line.

Of course, Daniela had put in a stunning performance and arrived quite a while before me, spurred on by chasing down the boys one by one. But to come second to the current Ironman and half Ironman world Champion was quite a feat for me, and a good marker of where I stand.

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With Daniela Ryf (1st place – middle) and Skye Moench (3rd place – right) at the finish line

I had also knocked a fair chunk of time off my 2016 result across all the disciplines, thank you Mr Jürgen Zäck. To top it off, Dad finished shortly (ish…) after me, and qualified for the 70.3 World Champs in South Africa later this year, where I have also qualified for.

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As ever, thank you to all my sponsors and family for their support, through the thick and the thin, White and Wong, the Z-Coaching Phuket team, Jiakina Customized (my amazing new tri-suit), Sailfish, Revv Energy Thailand for keeping me fuelled to the final km, and of course Project Artisan Phuket.

The recovery after the race wasn’t quite as obvious, but that’s another story for another time…

Training in the Tropics

Despite the unexpected recent snow, hints of Summer are supposedly beginning to shine through in the more Northern northern hemisphere (i.e Europe). With these longer days and warmer weather, and more people training in hot conditions away on training camps, I thought I would share some of the most important lessons I’ve learnt over the past 6 months about training in the tropical heat of Thailand. Continue reading Training in the Tropics

Subic Bay 70.3 -Part 2, The Race

Following this rather unfortunate series of events (see Part 1), I managed to get myself to the startline.  Or rather, various incredible got me there. With my bike.

Now for the actual race:

Lining up for the rolling start of the swim, I was so ready to get going. With well rested legs after several days of mandatory rest, I was still feeling pretty rough, but I was ready to roll.  Continue reading Subic Bay 70.3 -Part 2, The Race

Race Report: Bangsaen Triathlon 2016  

Most people who do triathlon competitively, or any other sport competitively, or any other hobbies competitively, are likely to be very good at putting pressure on themselves.

It’s one of my fortes. In some situations it is a forte- but for some it can be harmful, and just end in disappointment.

So for my first triathlon of 2016 – my first real “test” since deciding to train full-time, I decided to not overthink it. Enjoy the experience, and see where my limbs would take me.  Continue reading Race Report: Bangsaen Triathlon 2016  

Surat Thani/Khao Sok 70km bike race

A spontaneous last minute decision lead me towards a whole new type of racing: bike racing. The purpose of this blog is to reflect on the 70km pure bike racing experience, with a few anecdotal snippets of the actual race thrown in. Continue reading Surat Thani/Khao Sok 70km bike race

Impartial Marshalling

Over the past couple of weeks, I have had the eye-opening experience of both racing and marshalling major triathlon races.

The first of the events – Laguna Phuket Triathlon – I raced. Although I was aware of draft marshals out on the bike course, I was also aware that for a lot of the course, I was flying solo, always respecting the 7m thai drafting rule throughout. Continue reading Impartial Marshalling