Alex at Ironbask HIM in St Jean de Luz for the 2nd time

Ironbask HIM 70.3 – 12 September 2015 – St Jean de Luz

Alex Léger Cattarini - Nice Ironman 2015by Alexandre Léger Cattarini

Last week, I participated for the second time in the Ironbask HIM which takes place in the charming town of St Jean de Luz, in the south west of France, in the heart of the “pays basque”.

The swim starts at 8 AM. At dawn – the light is simply amazing with low sun rays slowly revealing the beauty of the shore. Sadly, as I forgot to put some anti-fog on my goggles, rapidly, I couldn’t see any bit of this spectacle, relying for my direction on the other 400 participants around me. In the end, the swim was not too violent and after 35 minutes, I was running toward my bike for T1.

Not a good transition as I had to put my bike in some remote site of the transition area – the organizers decided not have numbered spots, which were attributed on a first come first serve basis, and as you can guess, I arrived quite late…so, it took me around 7 minutes to exit from the transition area.

The 90k-ride dives into the green and gently hilly “pays basque”. There are two loops which give you twice the opportunity to climb the Ainhoa hill. The grey clouds were kind enough to not release their announced storms. I spent most of the ride with the same group of riders. One of them overtook me when a referee came up on his motorbike. The inevitable happened: the referee showed me a yellow card as he wrongly concluded that I had been drafting. I managed to get my mind back in the race – it is part of the game, right? – and finished the ride in 2h29min – 20 minutes better than the previous year.

Out of T2, I had to wait 5 minutes in the penalty box before starting the half-marathon. The runner’s route is made of two loops which is partly along the beach facing the ocean. I did not really know at what intensity I could run so I decided to apply the negative split strategy: starting easy and try to accelerate on the second loop. On a wrong decision I drank a glass of Coke and again my liver quickly reminded me that he could not handle that amount of sugar. It started to burn and I had to walk a few seconds or minutes before starting to run again. That was a bit frustrating as the rest of the body seemed okay. Sticking to my strategy, I accelerated on the second half and ended up running the last km in 4:20 min/km, to finish the 19k run in 1:29min.

In the end, I was quite satisfied with my race, with a 30-min improvement compared to last year. Just a bit frustrated by the poor transitions and the undeserved penalty.

This Ironbask is definitely a nice and friendly race in a very pleasant environment and I can advise you to experience it once in your triathlete career.