I'm truly overwhelmed by such a great result and performance on Sunday. It was my second Ironman Championship race this year, after doing Ironman South Africa Champs 8 weeks ago where I finished 4th overall.
The plan was to go to Brazil and top up my Kona point rankings early enough in the year so I could get in a good mid-season rest before I start the build-up for the World Champs in October.
It's a P-4000 race which meant I only really needed to finish 10th to be safe for the Kona Qualification. I dealt the big cards on the run and with such great preparation it paid off and I executed just perfectly. I actually felt slightly fitter going into this race than I did in Ironman South Africa but I didn't want to get to exited as it all comes down to one day…race day and anything can happen!
Coming 2nd was a bit of a surprise especially racing a top field of men. I was lying in 5th for a long time on the run but I fuelled well (thanks to NutriTech/Endurade) and paced myself properly.
I had an ok swim, I am usually a 2nd pack swimmer but with so many uber swimmers the pace was up there. I had a great start but within a couple of 100 meters I was sandwiched by 2 groups that left me on the back of the pack. I settled into a good tempo and rhythm, but within about 800 meters at the turnaround I could see the front pack had made a gap already. I lead the second pack until we reached the turnaround of the 1st lap which is a beach run and back in the water to start the second lap. I saw I was with Brent McMahon (who actually won the race last year). I swam with him for the remainder of the swim which is around 1800 meters.
The beginning of the bike, Brent and I worked hard together to try bridge the gap, sharing the load and chomping away at the front group. My power and HR was a little higher than usual for my Ironman pacing, but the legs felt great to start and thought why not try and bridge the gap to the front group. It was a risk but I was willing to take it.
At the first turnaround at 45km I clocked they were only 1:45min ahead and after hearing we were 3min down on the swim I knew I was making progress catching them. I made another decision right then to pull the throttle back and not burn any more energy. One thing was in mind at that point, wait until the run and then unleash! I had a split second scare at the second turn around at 90km when a dog ran in front of me as I was making my turn, I think I might have even brushed his tail, but I recovered quickly. At 135km the group was roughly just over 3min ahead so we actually started to lose a bit of time. I remained calm, focused on my nutrition and making sure everything was in check before the marathon. With around 8km to go I actually opened up a gap to them and ended getting in about 30-45sec when I entered T2.
When I got on the run, I pretty much felt exactly the same as Ironman South Africa where I ran a 2:47 marathon and knew I could probably even run a better split if I paced myself correctly and fuelled well. I was in 5th place at this point.
I was running about 3:48 min pace per KM for the first 3km but started to dial it back quickly to only realize I have another 39km to go. The first 7km is actually pretty undulating and hilly with 1 or 2 climbs reaching way over 20% gradient. These were actually great little testers to be honest after having done the race back in 2015 I knew I had better legs this year.
I clocked number 2, 3 & 4 were only around 2:45min ahead so I was probably making up ground already.
At the 17km mark I passed Andreas Raelert to move into 4th position, he gave me some huge encouragement (thanks Andreas) as I moved past him he said I looked great which was very sportsman like of him. (What I great guy, and huge respect).
At the turnaround at around 19km I clocked 2nd & 3rd were around 2:30min ahead or even closer, this gave me a huge boost of motivation to start the reeling in game.
At the 25km mark I made the pass to move into 3rd, there was not much looking back at this point. I made the decision to go all in and see what I have to do to get into second place.
Mind you I have to say that Tim Don was absolutely killing it out there and had about 25min lead, which was way out of reach (ended up setting a world record of 7:40hr later on) I actually said to him on the run, “DUDE you going to bloody lap us soon!!!!!”
I clocked 2nd was only 1min ahead and in striking distance. I could tell he was starting to fade as his stride started to slack a bit. I made the pass, I was in 2nd place! He tried to stay behind me, a quick little surge and I was on my own running in a comfortable 2nd place.
Wow! absolutely shocked how my day was turning out, I couldn't believe it. For the last remaining 6-7km I was hurting pretty bad and was praying not to fade badly enough to walk. I gave absolutely everything I had and more to get to the finish line to keep 2nd position. Absolutely stoked to stand on the podium in a championship race!
Standing on that podium was actually my first time I was on the champagne throttle, I've been on podiums before and won some races but this was the first.
Thanks to my great support team who always have positive vibes in every situation for me. Backing me to be a better athlete.