Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Ironman 70.3 European Championships – Wiesbaden, Germany

So this year I had the opportunity to travel to Germany to race the Conseil International du Sport Militaire (CISM) Triathlon Euro Cup and Wiesbaden 70.3. Regardless, Claudia and I had already decided that we needed to make the trip to Germany this year to visit her family. 

I traveled to Warendorf on the 10th of Aug and met up with the rest of the Canadian Team. We had a couple days of race activation and then raced the Sassenburger Triathlon on Sunday the 13th. The CISM race is normally draft legal, but this year it was a no-drafting race. This normally works out better for me especially this time as it meant I only needed to take my Argon 18 E-118 to Germany instead of both my E-118 and Gallium Pro. I had a very good race at the Sassenburg Triathlon and finished 14th in European Military Championships and I was the 4th Canadian. It was by far my best race this year and it was great to finally see my power coming back on the bike. It was a flat 45km course (2 loops of ~22.5km) with a lot of turns. I finished the bike in 1:07:23 (average 40.5km/hr – 238 Power Avg and 243 NP) and followed that up with a 36:19 run. Race Time 2:08:05 (on a course that was 5+km long on the bike). Congrats to Alex BoulĂ© on taking the men's title and Alex, Dave L. and Phil for taking 2nd in the Team Competition.

Claudia and the kids had flown into Berlin on the 8th of August and drove down to pick me up on the 14th. We traveled down to Wiesbaden that afternoon. 

Race morning, I was up shortly before 0500 and had my normal breakfast of coffee, eggs, toast w/ jam, and a glass of orange juice. At approximately 0600hrs, Claudia, the kids and I headed to Raunheim Waldsee for the swim. Wiesbaden 70.3 has T1 at the quarry and T2 in downtown Wiesbaden. I wasn’t overly happy with the swim format as it would be the force start that I had seen with the new Swim Smart initiative from Ironman. Essentially the swim is a rolling start with 4 athletes being let in the water every 5seconds. I didn’t like the sounds of this type of start going in and after experiencing it firsthand it has some benefits and some drawbacks. Essentially you turn a race into a time trial as you don’t really know who started where. It definitely spreads out the field on the swim, but in my opinion it actually makes the opening kms of the bike more crowded and opens the potential for more drafting. You are putting a larger volume of athletes with similar bike abilities in a smaller window of time. With the age group starts that I have experienced in the past you end up with the age groups spread out over a 30-60+min instead of ~20min. Anyways my swim was ok at 32:14 but so be it.

The bike – well let’s just say it’s by far the hardest 70.3 bike course that I have ever experienced. It had 1650+m of elevation gain and the descents were by in large somewhat technical (several switchbacks) and some of the roads had nasty potholes and patches. That being said, it’s a beautiful course, but it’s hard. The bike was fairly congested in the opening 40+kms and I did see some blatant drafting, but people in general were trying to keep the legal 12m gap. I was a bit frustrated initially as I was trying to ride legally so when I got passed I would back off and out of the draft zone only to be passed by a group of 5-6 riders. I would then have to put a surge in and pass the riders one by one and then watch as they would all ride past me again in the group. Once we finally hit the big climb that group disappeared and for the remainder of the ride I saw no “deliberate” drafting. The best part of the course was the descent coming back into town…I was over 80km/hr for over 2minutes! 2:44:03 Avg Power 213 NP240W pretty much exactly where I was hoping to be. The elevation gain makes the course hard, but what makes the course truly hard is the technical descents and the fact it is difficult to get into a rhythm.

Onto the 4 loop run course. A pretty scenic course through the park in downtown, but unfortunately a lot of the running was on the dirt/gravel trail – that being said there were lots of spectators. Essentially each loop of the course is uphill for the first half and down-hill for the second half. I told myself to run the first two loops a little conservative, run the third loop mod-hard, and then race the last loop. So that’s what I did. Final run time 1:21:57 (though I think the run is a little short).

Final time 4:42:48. A little slower than I had hoped for, but the bike course humbled me. 71st Overall, 7th M30-34, 4th Military 30-39, 5th Military Division Overall, 32nd Amateur. Yes, the competition in Europe is better than we typically see in North America.

So going in I wasn’t sure I would take a slot to Kona if I got one. Finishing 4th in the Military M30-39 division meant I had a chance. There were three military slots to Kona allocated to that division and one slot rolled. When my name was called I instantly said yes!

Thanks all for the continued support. It was a lot of fun! Now it's time to enjoy a week of vacation in Germany prior to heading home!