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2011 Ironman World Championships

The Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii is the dream of many and the fulfilment of a few select athletes. Every triathlete wants to compete in the race at least once but with a tough qualification process it is notoriously difficult to get a slot. However TORQ were represented again by Dave Mawhinney a three time Kona finisher, this is how he got on…

After flight delays we finally arrived in Kona after 2 days of travelling, which meant I only had 4 days to acclimatize to the stifling heat and humidity.

The run up to race day was a mixture of excitement and apprehension and everywhere you looked there were people running and biking and most people weren’t even doing the race!

Friday was bike and bag racking day and you could already feel the tension in the air. And it was with great excitement that I rolled the Merida Time Warp in to be racked. Even with the array of top end bikes on display the Merida produced the usual number of admiring glances.

After a good night sleep; for a change, I was up at 3:30 am raring to go. It was then a case of getting into transition to be body marked at 5:00 am. The tension in the air was electric and it was calming to see all the pro triathletes were there adding the final touches to their race bikes looking as nervous and as apprehensive as the age groupers. It was a fantastic to think that shortly I would be racing with the top pros (even the professionals have to qualify; 50 men, 30 women!).

On the start line; in the water, it was an amazing sight to look back towards transition and see and hear the fantastic crowd support and to see the large number of blue and pink swim caps bobbing in the sea. At 7:00am the cannon fired and we were off It was the usual chaotic swim start with arms and legs everywhere. I was kicked in the face twice straight away and had to stop and empty my goggles. The sea was very choppy and it was hard work swimming out and even harder swimming back and crowded all the way! I was pleased to exit the swim in 1 hour13 minutes (no wetsuits allowed as the water is to warm) which was about the same as last year despite the choppy sea.

Into T1 and it was onto the bike and up Palanii Road and on to the Queen K Highway. There was a tail wind for the first 40 miles and I felt strong and pushed it, but the next 20 miles up to the turnaround point at Hawi was up hill and into a strong head wind which was hard work. So I was relieved to get to Hawi at 60 miles and begin the descent. With the wind behind me again it was a case of getting into top gear and putting my head down and enjoying the +35mph ride for 15 miles.

The temperature and humidity was very high and I was glad that I had decided to wear my road bike helmet for maximum ventilation. I had to pour cold water over myself at every aid station in order to try and keep cool. I had decided to wear white arm coolers which when wet were a great help in me keeping cool. The last 10 miles were hard work; slightly up hill and into the wind and I was relieved to get back into T2 after a good 5 hour 21 minute bike which was a Kona PB for me.

I felt good coming off the bike and was into my running stride quickly. I had decided to carry 3 Torq gels in a flask in one hand and 3 separate gels in the other and to have a gel every 30 minutes before I got to an aid station where I drank water which seemed to work all the way around. By mile 3 despite putting ice in my hat and throwing water over me at the aid stations, I started to overheat and my pace dropped so it was just a case of willing myself to keep going. By the time I was heading back onto the Queen K highway and heading for the Energy Lab and into the heat haze I began to really feel the heat and humidity. It was such a relief to get to the final turn around point and start to head home. 3 miles from the end I could hear the announcers at the finish, it spurred me on and kept me going and as I got nearer the finish I could hear the crowds of supporters shouting and cheering and it was a great feeling to get back onto Alii Drive and head up to the finish line and cross after a very hard, tiring ironman run to give me a Kona PB despite the tough conditions.

So now it’s time for a well earned rest after a tough long season before its back to training! A big thank you to Torq and all our sponsors for their support:

Delicious, natural and healthy nutrition: www.torqfitness.co.uk
Frames – Merida: www.merida-bikes.com
Cycle Shoes – Lake: www.lakecycling.co.uk
Helmets & Glasses – Limar: www.limarhelmets.com/eng/
Cables – Jagwire: www.jagwireusa.com
Aerobars – USE: www.use1.com
Wetsuits – 2XU: www.2xu.com
Wheels – Fast Forward: www.ffwdwheels.com
Powermeters – Powertap: www.cycleops.com