Ironman World Championship

Our latest tri-recruit, Dave Mawhinney, has just come back from racing the Ironman World Championships; in my opinion the most prestigious annual triathlon race in the World. Every Ironman triathlete aims to be competitive in this race including all the triathlon-superstars. The field is always stacked and coupled with the arduous conditions make this race the hardest Ironman to win and compete in. Most triathletes dream of going but never get the opportunity (80,000 Ironman triathletes aim for the 1900 race-places!). Therefore to be eligible to race you need to win your age group at an Ironman event to ensure your ticket. Dave raced the iconic race after winning his age group at Ironman UK for two years running, a truly dedicated achievement. Below is Dave’s fascinating race report, including lots of course details that may come in useful for all you aspiring Kona hopefuls…


Kona report

‘After travelling from home to our hotel for nearly 40 hours; including delays, missed flights and an extra stop-over, we finally arrived in Kona Hawaii at lunchtime on Monday 5th October, 18 hours later than expected. Luckily the entire luggage, including the bike thankfully, arrived with us (hard to race a tri without one)!

It’s hard to start training when you still feel jet lagged, but at the same time it was nice to loosen up the legs. Five days isn’t long enough to acclimatize to the Hawaiian heat and humidity. When I ran for the first time the heat just took my breath away and my heart rate was all over the place! Even on the bike it was hard work in the heat. Its amazing cycling and running past the elite athletes like Chris MacCormack (this years winner), Farris Al Sultan and not to mention Chrissie Wellington (triple Ironman world champion)! The build up to race day seems to go very quickly and by the Friday afternoon bike and bag check-in everyone seems raring to go for Saturday’s race.

Ironman worlds Dave pic 2

The race

The pros started the swim at 6-30am following the firing of the cannon followed by us age groupers at 7-00am. Although I started the swim well to the left of the swim buoys and further back from the start line, the crush when we all started was amazing, arms were everywhere and I couldn’t get any open water to swim in for at least the first 800 metres. After that it calmed down a bit but was very tight for the last 800 metres. It was a non wetsuit swim so a bit slower than normal but I was pleased with my 1 hour 13 minute swim.

Ironman worlds Dave pic 3

Into T1, I took it easy and had a smooth transition and was straight on to the bike and up Palini Road and then on to the King K. Highway. At the start of the bike there were large groups of cyclists together but we soon thinned out and the pace was fast to the turn around and back and onto the Queen K. Highway. On the way out of Kona I settled down and kept a steady pace being careful to ensure I kept an eye on my Torq nutrition and kept well hydrated in the heat but I also needed to pick up water at every aid station to throw over myself to keep cool! The climb up to Hawi into the wind was hard work but thankfully there was a bit of cloud cover and I reached the turnaround point at Hawi in just under 3 hours. As soon as you turned around you were buffeted by the very strong crosswinds, not much fun while travelling downhill at over 35 mph. People were getting blown across and off the road. Eventually the cross winds subsided to be replace by a steady head wind! After pedalling into a head wind for over 30 miles and going steady for the last 10 miles it was back down Palani Road and into T2 after a 5 hour 35 minute bike leg.

After a steady T2, it was on with the running shoes and onto Alli’i Drive for the start of the run. Before the race I had trained to do a run 9 minute walk 1 minute strategy and to take it easy on the run. But due to the heat I had to put ice in my run-hat and throw water over me at every aid station in order to try and keep cool. I was running at around 9 minute mile pace up until around mile 10 but after the run up Palani Road the heat started to get to me and I began to struggle a bit and began to slow down. By the time I got to the Energy Lab, I felt very tired so it was nice to turn around and head for the finish. 

The last section is full of spectators cheering us all on and I could hear the presenters calling the triathletes home at the finishing line. It was such a relief to get back onto Alli’i Drive and head towards the finishing line and to hear Whit Raymond say those words ‘Dave Mawhinney you are an Ironman’ as I crossed the finish line. I ran a slower marathon than I would have liked but the heat took-its-toll and I ran a 4 hours 20 minutes marathon to finish in 11 hours 18 minutes, some 13 minutes faster than I did last year.

Ironman World Dave pic 4

We stayed around the finishing area in the party atmosphere until the last person had crossed the finishing line a few seconds before the midnight cut off, enjoying this special race.’

With thanks to our sponsors:
Bikes: Quintana Roo
Wheels: Fast Forward
Power: Saris
Cycle shoes: Lake

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