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Ironman South Africa 2007

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This year’s race was very different to most other Ironman races I’ve done in the past. I always tried to focus all my energy into training and peaking for one day, Ironman race day. But after all the time and energy spent on Hawaii, and failing to complete the race, I just thought "to heck with that, I’m just going to race everything”. Since December I’ve done 7 races, from sprint distance to an off road tri to ultra distance at the Jailbreak. They all went well, a win at each event except SA Champs where I placed 8th, but at a draft legal race, I was still satisfied. But obviously, the only race that counts is Ironman. A great boost before the race was the signing of a new title sponsor in the form of ATLAS Security, and I was really looking forward to making them proud.

Race day dawned like any other, 4 am breakfast and the usual nervousness and anticipation. At 5:30 am a quick final check of all equipment and placing of GUgel flasks into the transition bags. A short warm up in the water at 6:30 am, and then it’s time to go.

I was worried before that I might miss the bunch in the swim. During some swim races in prior weeks, training partner David Hyam was getting away from me all too easily. So I decided to use a sleeveless ORCA wetsuit as I felt the problem was due to shoulder fatigue. The decision paid off, apart from Carl Storm who got away on the first lap and jerked the bunch a bit, the swim pace was very easy; the conditions however, were not. After a very choppy swim the bunch exited in 58 minutes, 2 minutes behind Carl and 4 minutes up on the danger men, Gerrit Schellens and Stefan Reisen.

After a slight hiccup in transition which saw me losing about a minute when I took the wrong bag off

 the rack, I got into my tempo early on the bike. Everybody expected Bjorn Andersson to take off on the cycle leg, and he didn’t disappoint. But I wasn’t going to get sucked into trying to stay with him; I just made sure I stuck to my game plan, to take it easy for the first 100km, and try push home over the last 80km when the wind picked up. Everything on my SCOTT Plasma went perfectly for the first lap, although I did lose about 3 minutes to Swiss star Reisen which worried me a little as he is a pretty good runner too. Second lap went without incident, everyone’s pace had settled down and the gaps were staying constant (except for Andersson who was smashing 4 minutes per lap into me). On the 3rd lap I could feel the wind was shifting, but it still hadn’t changed to the predicted easterly which can make the last 40km brutal on this course. And even though I tried to pick up my intensity, I couldn’t put more than a minute into the men behind me, and Reisen was a big concern when I dismounted at T2.

A quick transition into my PUMA running shoes, and I was onto the run some 12 minutes behind Andersson. But as phenomenal an athlete he is, he was never a big concern. He’s tried Ironman on several occasions without success. The amount of energy and power he uses on the bike absolutely destroys his legs for a marathon, and from km 1 the gap started closing. The gap to Reisen was my first concern, only 5 minutes (last year he ran 7 minutes quicker than me). Then I got an even bigger shock, Schellens was only 9 minutes back, and I knew I was in trouble, he must have had the ride of his life. It was all or nothing from then on; I pushed as hard as I thought was possible without blowing up. The first 10km in 38 minutes, through half way in 1hr 23 feeling pretty good for the most part. The gap however, just kept coming down. Although I had moved into the lead after passing Andersson at 22km, by 30km the gap to Schellens was just 2 minutes. Once again I tried to dig deep to lift the pace, and for a while I thought it was working. At 38km I still had 55 seconds, but then the pain and total fatigue set in. 4km from the finish, so close – yet so far. At 39km he came passed me like I was I looking for parking, and at that stage parking was sounding like a pretty good idea, but I knew Reisen was still lurking behind me somewhere, so I had to push on, just trying not to slow to a walk.

The last 3 km were agony, but finally, it came to an end. I was disappointed to finish 2nd again, but I was happy that I gave everything I had on the day. I ran 4 minutes faster than last year, but it still wasn’t enough. The little man from Belgium was too strong for everyone on the day. The biggest lesson I can take from this race is the fact that I don’t need to train as hard as I have in the past. More isn’t always better, so for next year I’ll have to be smarter.

Annah Watkinson - Race Report IM Brazil 2017

After a great first year racing in the professional category in 2016, I was amped for the 2017 season. Feeling stronger and fitter and more in the "right head space" - I had done some great training over December spending many many many (and many more) hours on the bike - I loved it. My swim was starting to click, I was starting to understand the phrase "feel the water", and my running was strong

READ ONAnnah Watkinson - Race Report IM Brazil 2017
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