Ironman Nice 2012

This was going to be Lance Armstrong’s first Ironman, but due to USADA case he was prevented from racing Ironman events. It is a shame that the opportunity to start alongside one of cycling’s most iconic figures was denied (Lance began his endurance sports career as a triathlete). I can only imagine Lance choose this event due to the challenging cycle route playing to his advantages. Well TORQ’s Dave Mawhinney certainly thrives on technical and hard cycle legs and this is his account of his latest Ironman adventure…

This was my second running of Ironman Nice. It was IM Nice 2006 was where my Ironman journey began, so returning to Nice in 2012 for the 8th instalment induced a feeling of both dread and nostalgia. I was interested to see how far I had come since my first Ironman race in terms of my finishing time improvement.

Nice 2012 start

On race morning and entering transition I was struck by the sheer number of people actually doing the race and how chaotic the swim start would be. A few minutes before the start, I was onto the beach to await the start hooter. The beach drops sharply to the sea and at the start of the race there was a mad dash into the water with people falling on top of each other and I was unable to find clear water to swim in for the first third of the race and had to swim very wide. After the first loop, things settled down and I was finally able to find some clear water to complete the final lap.

Nice 2012 bike

Into T1 and onto the bike and I was soon into the aero position and up to a fast pace, overtaking people straight away, making use of the initial flat section on the bike course. After 20km it was into the hillier sections with a +10% climb to begin with. The first 110km of the bike course was the most testing with one section of 20km going straight up into the mountains at a gradient of over 7%. It felt like I was taking part in a mountain stage of the Tour De France! After the steep ascents came the very fast descents as we headed down the side of the mountain on the winding roads at over 40 mph! The last 50km of the race was virtually all downhill and I was able to gain time on the faster sections while at the same time give my legs a chance to recover from all the climbing and to start to prepare mentally for the run.

Nice 2012 run

Into T2, I was pleased with my bike time of 5 hrs 37 minutes – 30 minutes quicker than I had ridden in the 2006 race. After a quick T2 I was onto the 4 lap run course along the promenade. At the beginning of the run the temperature was over 30 degrees, but I soon settled into a steady run pace trying not to push my heart rate too high. It was the longest I had run using my Scott T2C running shoes, but I was pleased with how comfortable they were and that I didn’t experience the blister problems that I had had with my previous shoes in spite of the heat. I felt really good for the first half of the run, but started to stiffen up on the third lap, however I had saved enough to push harder on the last lap to finish with a marathon time of 3 hours 57 minutes and a total time of 10 hours 52 minutes to finish 8th in my age group (50-54) and 387th overall having beaten my 2006 race time by nearly 50 minutes! Then it was a case of waiting for my TORQ-fuelled wife to finish who had puncture problems on the bike and did well to finish!

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