1️⃣8:35:32 Lucy Charles Barkley 🇬🇧
2️⃣8:40:48 Gurutze Frades Larralde 🇪🇸
3️⃣8:43:19 Annah Watkinson 🇿🇦
4️⃣8:53:36 Lauren Brandon 🇺🇸
5️⃣8:57:11 Anja Ippach 🇩🇪
6️⃣9:10:02 Tessa Kortekaas 🇳🇱
That’s the result of the Ironman South African Championships and I’m proud to be in this list, a fantastic debut between the “big names”!
Let’s start from the beginning. The expected nerves, which I normally don’t have, were even this week minimal. I was more nervous for the interviews and the press conference than for the race, but even that was not that bad. I learned two lessons: 1. Take the bottle of your nutrition sponsor to the press conference and take a sip when the interview is over. 2. Take deodorant with you, but perhaps that’s only in case you’re a rookie, it got quite hot for me😅
Once on the beach, a few minutes before the start, my heartbeat started to rise sharply. Half an hour before the start they announced that swimming was shortened to a distance of 1600 meters. The strong east wind caused a rough sea, too risky for all 2000 participants to swim the full distance. To be honest, I was quite happy about it. A few days earlier I had entered this washing machine and was no fun.
At 6:35, 5 minutes after the men, the canon sounded for us and we sprinted into the sea with 12 women. It felt like fighting against the waves and fighting to stay in a group of three. I lost them and tried to keep going fast, unfortunately I couldn’t find a nice rhythm. The 1600 meters turned out to be 2000 and when I arrived at the bikes, I noticed 8 of them were already gone.
The bike course was a twice 90km loup, simply wind it back going out and headwind coming back. I immediately had 1 women near in front and slowly I was approaching. And I thought I saw a group of three a bit further up, so I pushed a bit more power than we actually planned. I came closer but then only one of the three was there. After the first lap I realized that I really had to control the watts better, if I wanted to run a strong marathon. The last part was tough, parts of false flat and steeper than that, with full headwind. As predicted, the wind would increase more and more during the day. Fortunately I’m used to a Lanzarote breeze. Glad I finally got off the bike after 5h18 (in 7th position), I made it through the transition zone, helped by the fantastic South African volunteers.
The marathon was a 4x 10.5km loop with two hills in it, not an easy course. Imagine with the wind was blowing roughly through Port Elizabeth. I tried to make the course mentally easy and told myself: the kilometers with the wind in the back are for free, so it is actually only 21 km to suffering. I tried to control my planned pace of 4:35-4:45/km, but I was flying and did the first 21km in about 4:30/km. Meanwhile moved to the 6th position, with no big danger behind and a fairly large gap with the top 5. I didn’t had a big decline, but from about 30 to 35 I had a bit of a hard time, the rude wind full in front. People started to form small groups, to hide from the wind, they should almost prohibit drafting during the run😉 Unfortunately for me there wasn’t a big strong guy that could keep me out of the wind, in fact, I had one in my back. With a lot of effort I was able to keep the pace under 5 minutes, but I knew that I was still “fresh” enough to regain the pace when I should turn from the wind and fight myself through the last 2 windy kilometers.
Euphorically, I crossed the finish line after 9 hours and 10 minutes with a marathon time of 3h12. I knew I’d made good steps in the preparation towards this race, but it just have to come out at the right time.
Not much later my coach and training buddy Miguel finished, who raced only 15 seconds longer😅 (sorry!😘). Super happy and proud, we both dropped down in the pro lounge, me as a pro, he as a coach, where we were spoiled with nice food and drinks. Believe it or not but after a day with liquid food my stomach was still fine and I couldn’t stop eating!
I didn’t had a specific goal for this race, but of course I had a finish time in mind that would allow a ranking in the best half of the field. My first season was mainly about gaining experience, both at competition and training level. For myself, I mainly wanted to prove that I belong to pro-level, able to measure myself with the bigger names and not end up somewhere in the back of the field. I believe I have achieved my goal with this debut… Happy triathlete 🤩