Clive Asplen – First Brit home in Iron Man NZ.

Clive Asplen, former Mountain Biker and Rodie from ‘Beautiful Britain’ now lives and trains in New Zeeland and it looks like he’s doing rather well at this triathlon lark! I previously coached Clive and we made a few inroads into Triathlon before he left the country for good. With 61st place in Iron Man New Zeeland and the first British athlete home, it looks like he’s really getting the hang of it. Here’s what he had to say:

“It’s funny how the mind only remembers the good bits of a race. You hear once again the crowd cheering, the feeling of elation when crossing the finish line, the ecstasy of achieving a goal and the luxurious two weeks of down time after the race. Whilst at the same time you forget the hard bits – the painful bits. Take Ironman for example. If everyone just remembered the hard parts, the sport would not be celebrating 25 years in Kona this year. It would have been lucky to reach 2. It would not be one of the fastest growing sports in the world as it is at the moment with new events springing up every year and nearly always selling out. If only you could remember how much you deeply hate the run and in particular between 20-30km?

Last year I did my first Ironman in a time of 11 hours and 13minutes. Not what I had hoped for and I deeply hated the whole walk/run part of the day. I sat back, re-evaluated things and with the help of Steve Farrell, competed in Ironman Canada with a much better time of 10 hours and 6 minutes. Then on March 1st 2003 I took to the start line of Ironman NZ as a pro. The training had been done and it was time to settle a few scores with this particular race.

I woke up on race morning (well at least it was am) 04:00 doesn’t seem like morning to me – it’s still dark for a number of hours yet (Ed. Try living in ‘Old Blighty’ again Clive, you’ll soon remember what dark mornings feel like). I had breakfast before heading down to transition for body marking, bike check, stick energy bars to the bike and make about a hundred trips to the loo.

The waiting was finally over as I headed down to the start in my wetsuit to warm up, loosen the arms etc. Before I knew it the three lights are lit up, which indicate 3-minutes to start – at this point everyone began to creep forward. Then we were off! Not the normal push and drown that you get at most starts, there were just a few taps of my feet in the first 400metres and that was it! After about 800metres I looked over to see a figure with a familiar stroke catch me up and yes it’s Lyndley, so I must be on for a good swim. About 300 meters after the first turnaround I see Lisa Bentley in her gold cap next to me and manage to swim the rest next to her. At Iron Man Canada she was 1min 30 quicker in the water than me.

“Fly” was what I thought. About 100m outside ‘Transition 1’ Steve Larson shot past me. I soon got into a rhythm on the bike and get into a legal group of about 10 others, mainly pros. After about 10kms we caught the women’s leader Jo Lawn on a fast descent. The pace was lifted by a few of the other Male pros on the climb coming back to Taupo. I rode the climb at my own pace using the others to close the gaps. This tactic Jo also seemed to do as she came flying past on the next descent, dropping most of the group in the process. For the second lap of the cycle it was just a case of holding on for as long as possible to a ‘flying Jo’ who had dropped everyone but me. I finally had to back off after about 130kms or I’d have blown up big style. I arrived back at Transition 2 after a lonely last 50kms in a new bike personal best of 5 hours 10 minutes, 25minutes faster than the previous year.

I kept a good pace going for the first 20km of the run, and then Lisa B came flying past (I am getting very tired of seeing the back of Lisa B). My pace dropped from 4 min 55 sec kms to 6 min kms over the next 15kms, but I think I picked the pace up a bit towards the end (not sure though) – it certainly felt a lot harder.

After crossing the line I made my annual trip to the medical tent, this time I lost only 5kgs instead of the 9kgs last year.”

FINAL PLACING 61ST: SWIM 54:20: TRANS 1 2:07: CYCLE 05:10:11: TRANS 2 0:53: RUN 03:44: TOTAL TIME 09:52:20 (Improvement on last time 12%)

Clive missed qualification for the Kona by 1 or 2 spots and has started to plan for later in the year, looking at either Ironman Canada or USA. Still, he was the first Brit home, so you can’t say fairer than that…

Clive would like to thank everyone for helping him to achieve his goal, especially Steve Farrell and Bernie.

Words by Matt Hart/Clive Asplen