Over the last 4 weeks, #TORQFuelled triathlete Donald Brooks has competed at 4 World Championship races and been crowned World Champion at each race!
With the major Triathlon World Championship events all taking place within Europe over a four-week period, Donald took this as an opportunity to compete at each, testing his ability and resilience over varying triathlon distances. These races ranged from the extremely short Super Sprint right through to full Ironman distance.
Below Don talks you through the events that unfolded in each race.
Race 1 // Ironman 70.3 World Championships // Lahti, Finland
“The race was set over the distance of a 1900m swim, a 56-mile bike course and a 13.1-mile, half marathon. I had concerns about starting in the last wave and having to navigate a very busy course, but I managed to work my way through the swim to exit in a position I knew I could build from through the bike split. It rained relentlessly for the entire bike split and was cold, but I concentrated on the race ahead, and controlled the elements of my performance I knew I could control.
Avoiding punctures and mechanical issues on the bike, I was pleased to start the final run split where the support on course was motivating. A few time splits from friends gave me the confidence that I was going to take the age-group win. This meant I was able to enjoy the second lap of the run, running a fast time of 1:17:26 for the half Marathon & winning the age group by over 12 minutes, placing 14th overall out of a field of approximately 2,300 in a time of 3:56:58.”
Race 2 // Ironman World Championships // Nice, France
This was the first time the Ironman World Championships had been held outside the United States as it is normally held in Kona, Hawaii (the birthplace of triathlon). France didn’t disappoint. The atmosphere was electric, and the venue was amazing, living up to true World Championship status.
Much like race 1, I again started in the last wave, but the whole age group wave started at the same time with a deep water start so it was a bit easier to work out where I was in the water. Early in the swim, just minutes in and I started overtaking competitors from earlier waves and this became my goal for the next 3 hours or so. The swim was busy, and hard to navigate, but I focused on each swimmer in front of me, using them as markers to work towards with the intention to beat them out of the swim exit. The swim exit and transition was like the queue in a supermarket on Black Friday! There was no other option but to wait my turn to enter the transition.
Moving into the bike split, I held my target power on the climbs and kept on top of nutrition and hydration, something learned from Ironman Lanzarote earlier in the year, where dehydration nearly put an end to my race. I normally push the bike section very hard, but instead chose to hold back, knowing the run was going to be tough in the mid-afternoon sun with temperatures peaking close to 30°C.
I felt good coming into the run and was glad to be getting off the bike. With a time gap of only 2m:40s ahead of 2nd position, I knew I was going to have to work on the run. I managed to increase this lead in the transition to nearly 5 minutes (transition is the 4th discipline) then ran at a pace I thought I would be able to hold – a pace of 4:00m/km – 4:10m/km to the end of the run split. This pace was working well for me, going through the half marathon split mark in a time of 1h:29m, increasing my lead to nearly 10 minutes.
Unfortunately, shortly after this time split, things started to take a turn. Discomfort resulted in the pace slowing and I was aware that my lead was being reeled in. On the last lap of the run course, I fuelled with a Cola Caffeine Gel, adding a psychological and neurological stimulus that allowed me to pick up the pace. With 2.5km to go I got a time split that the gap to second place was less than 1 minute, somehow I managed to increase my pace to 4:00m/km, putting my heart rate over 160. I ended up taking the win by 17 seconds, placing 13th overall out of a filed of nearly 2000 in an overall time of 9:25:39.
Race 3 & 4 // Super Sprint & Standard Distance World Championship // Pontevedra, Spain
The last of the Championships was hosted by World Triathlon in Pontevedra Spain, just two weeks after the Ironman discussed above. This was always going to be a challenge to have recovered enough from racing two very demanding races in such close succession.
This was a double race weekender starting with the Super Sprint on Friday, defending my World Title gained in Abu Dhabi in 2022 and the Standard Distance Triathlon on Sunday.
Having just won a race which defines the panicle of human endurance, I was now required to race at the opposite end of the triathlon duration spectrum, which results in a much higher intensity over a much shorter duration. This style of racing requires totally different physiological determinants to Ironman and rarely do athletes possess the ability to be successful at both disciplines. This was really going to put me to the test!
Super sprint is flat out red line racing all the way. The transitions play an important part of a short race as they take up a much larger percentage of the overall race time. Transitioning is a strong area for me, but I struggled a bit as a Marshall had moved some of my equipment and it threw me off, missing my bike location in transition. If nothing else this was a good lesson to me, to learn to adapt, take it in your stride, and just carry on.
Heading into the bike split, I got to work on a short, technical bike section before heading out on an equally twisty run course. I gained a significant amount of time on the bike and the run, which resulted in me becoming the Super Sprint age-group World Champion, whilst also placing 4th overall in a time of 23m:43s.
For the Sunday race (Standard Distance), I knew I had to perform. I was the reigning world title holder and was out to defend my position. The standard distance race consisted of a 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10Km run.
From a mass start, I set off well, exiting the swim in first place which I maintained throughout the remainder of the race. During the run my lower leg started to become painful which progressed to a limp for the final 3km, which after professional examination identified a stress fracture, which will now take some time to recover!
I took the overall age group win across all age groups in a time of 2:00:10. This is my strongest and favourite triathlon distance, so to prove and also repeat my performance on the World stage was a personal recognition of the sacrifices I have made to compete at this level. It was a humbling moment.”
As Don’s headline personal sponsor, TORQ congratulate Don on a hugely impressive season. We hope his injury heals quickly and he can return to another competitive season in 2024.
Donald Brooks, Congratulations.
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