Nick races at the 2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship, South Africa

70.3 World Championship – South Africa – 2nd September 2018 (L)

Never be too serious

Race Reporter: Nick

This trip for me actually started back in 2017 following the announcement that the 2018 world championships would be taking place in South Africa. With the dates coinciding with my 30th, qualifying became the target of the 2017 season and was accomplished at Weymouth with a 4th place securing my spot.

With my move to France for a new job, training had been a challenge. However, all those thoughts disappeared after a couple of pre-race sessions in Port Elizabeth.

With a great swim course out and back in the sea (and depending on the weather, choppy or perfectly calm) and a proper bike course (enough hills to break any packs and slow road surfaces), I was looking forward to racing some of the best age groupers in the world (and seeing some glorious bikes in the transition).

Not too early a start for the 30-34 age group with our wave kicking off at 8.25am giving us the chance of seeing the pros finish their swim with Frodeno/Brownlee/Gomez battling it out! It’s always impressive seeing the best duking it out!! I also managed to meet Adrien from the club for the first time before the race. Always great to see some familiar faces out on the course.

Soon the gun was going off and, slightly annoyingly, I started a little too far back in the field. But it kept the motivation up throughout the swim when you are continually overtaking people. Now probably one of the best bits of a race like this…..the wetsuit removers! I’ve in the past had to battle getting my wetsuit off, at this race you get the top part off, sit on the floor and volunteers rip it off your legs in one go. Fastest removal of the wetsuit ever!

I picked up my faithful steed (lovingly worked on by Paris Bike Co) and off we went, straight into the first climb. This is where you realise how high the level is at the Worlds. Safe to say, I’ve never been overtaken this much in a race on the bike! However, I was sticking to my game plan and enjoying the support. Like I said before, the bike course is an honest one! Quite a few rolling hills although not steep, made finding a rhythm a challenge.

Some sections you were flying along at 45-50kmh with the tail wind, others struggling to hold 30kmh. Wasn’t a good day on the bike for me but I was catching people in the last 20km who had over-cooked it, keeping the motivation there. Another bonus of racing at the worlds, jump off your bike and just hand them to the volunteers while you charge around looking for your run kit!

Onto the run….here I was hoping to put together a strong run after a weaker than normal bike. 1st km, no problems, feeling good and looking forward to building into a strong pace. 500m later, cramps building in my quads and full leg lock. Looking back, I had messed up sodium intake and paid the price big time. I was expecting to have to walk the run until an older gentleman saved my race by giving me some salt tablets. This helped loosen my legs at which point it was damage control. Push hard enough to get moving again, not so hard that the legs lock up again.

The support out there was inspirational and plenty of cheers from people I’ve raced with from the UK keeping some sort of smile on my face. Adrien also ran past me 6-7km into the run where we had a brief chat and I did my best to stick with him and then not let him get too far away from me.

All too quickly (although at the time, all too slowly), the run was ending and coming down the finisher chute and trying to take it all in. Although it was one of those days where things didn’t quite go right, it was a great experience!

Who knows, I might have to try and qualify for next year’s worlds in Nice!