Duncan's IMNZ Report

 Bit late I'm afraid, but only just getting time to write the report whilst I'm waiting for the flight to be called.

Pre Race

Arrived in Aukland a week before the race into a tropical storm, gales and rain. Nice. Picked up the camper and after a slightly bemused camper van owner did a double take at the piles of luggage and then at the van then we stuffed it all in and were off. Actually worked well, as we stored the bike on the spare bed above the cab, and then slept at the back. So off into the great unknown of NZ. Probably the time to mention huge thanks to Ally Bally Bee for all the advice on our itinerary whilst over in NZ. Ended up spending quite a bit of time on the Coromandel Peninsula, and even went back for a second visit at the end of our trip. It really is a beautiful place. So a few days of getting used to the time zone change (not too bad actually), and then a day of sea kayaking and then down to Taupo for the race. We got there on the Tuesday, so a few days to acclimatise and do all the usual faffing before the race on Saturday. For anyone that does end up thinking about doing the race in the future after reading this (and I'll definitely be back) then I'd recommend Gateway Motor homes for the camper hire and DeBretts for the campsite in Taupo – worked brilliantly.




    Race Week

    So once in Taupo (and this is a seriously nice place, really chilled out, and they know how to put on a race), then we met up with a few other brits over for the race, mainly some tri-talkers and my first real meeting of Ally. Actually, I'd bumped into her and her fiance (now Hubby) at the expo collecting tickets, but that's an aside. Err, for the sake of keeping this report to 15 pages, then perhaps I'll leave out the asides and pedantic corrections from here. And editorial comments. Tuesday night it was still blisteringly hot, but I thought I'd better start some training so I went out for a run along the course as it was already marked out. Ended up doing a bit longer than the hour I'd planned as I wanted to see the 'big hill'. Drank a litre of nuun in that time and still ran out ¾ of the way round. Hmm, race day was going to be interesting. Oh, and the airport hill was also going to be 'fun'. No shade, no wind and the melted tarmac sucked your trainers as you ran. That's my excuse anyway. Toes were aching a bit, so I took the great decision to use my alternative trainers for race day. Wednesday morning was my first chance to test the new wetsuit out and it started badly by sleeping through my alarm. So rush down there, putt the wetsuit on and rrriiip. Bollox, brand new 2XU V2 wetsuit and there's a 6” rip up the back. Note this is the seam that's not been sewn properly, not my fat arse, promise. So those lovely people at Blue Seventy lent me a wetsuit and I had my first OW swim since Bala and things were OK. Shoulder ached a bit, but that was partly as the loan suit was probably a bit big. So off to the 2XU stand to see if I could get a swap. In fairness to them then they were great and swapped it despite it being bought from the UK and not the NZ distributor, but all sorted. Afternoon was a chance to test the bike, and that was an hour up the course, and through the town. Basically the hilly part, and having driven the rest then I felt that the bike course wasn't anything to be worried about, it was going to be the run. Of course this was based on the good weather that we had, if the weather turned then that exposed course could be a mare with a head wind, but what were the chances of that.......

    Thursday was wetsuit test part two, and this went so much better. After the kindness shown by Blue seventy then it almost pains me to say it, but the 2xu is leagues ahead on boyancy and flexibility. My old Predator 2 was a good suit, but it's hard to overstate just how much better the V2 is. So 45 mins swim, and then another day of shopping in the expo, as the weather forecast now implied there could be some naff weather, and anyway the clear nights meant that biking in a wet tri-top at 8:30 was going to be cold, so a gillet was needed. Yet more new kit to try out on race day.

  • Pasta Party.

    Wow. What a show. Full Mouri welcome, with Haka, dancing, singing, and all the IM razamatazz too. A great night, and definitely not to be missed. I'd skipped the IMA pasta party, and in fairness then the UK one was basically a bit of video and some grub. But this was a full on night of entertainment and well worth the steepish ticket price for any guests that you have.


    Race briefing was pretty standard, and then an afternoon of bag packing, handing in the bike and bags and basically chilling. Oh, but the weather reports were now looking ominous for race day.

  • FFS you've not even started yet and you've been at it half an hour ;o)

    The suspenders are killing me.  I think BtS may have competition here.

    Azzzzz you were |0)

  • Race

    So the swam, cycled, and walked thing wasn't enough for some, so I suppose I'd better add some details.

    Alarm went off at 3:30am, chance for some brekkie before driving into town to grab a prime parking space for the camper on the lake front, so we'd end up cycling past 3 times, and running past 5 times over the course of the race. Handy for the support crew. Then down to T1 to hand in special needs bags and fill the bike water bottles. All done with no fuss and then very carefully into the wetsuit and down to the water for just gone 6. Oh, there were half a dozen assorted loo stops in this time too, but I'll spare you those details. Half six and through the darkness looms a Mouri canoe with about a dozen guys in all paddling to the rhythm of a drum. They then charge ashore chanting away and start another haka to those of us in the compound. What a great way to prepare for the race, so I said bye to Jane, and a few people that I'd met up with, and took myself off to collect thoughts and 'face up' to the challenge being laid down to me. Once that was over I wandered out to the deep water start and found myself a nice little spot in the middle of the pack, but as close as I could to the furthest bouy out from the shore as this gave me a straighter swim and would mean I was less likely to lose the draft hopefully. The cannon went off, and away we went. And strangely the plan worked, the out leg of the swim which was against the slight current was dispatched in about 34 minutes which was way ahead of my estimate of 1:20 in all. On the way back then I didn't manage to keep the same drafts and lost focus a bit, but still into shore feeling fine and out the water in 1:13. Well happy with that. Then comes a 400m run before you can strip off the wetsuit, and that's blinking knackering, but it's the first chance you get to feel the support that you're in for throughout the day. Into transition and just as I'm about to say 'careful' with the wetsuit then the helper yanks it off in a second, no tearing noise from wetsuit, hamstring or back, so I suppose I'd better get out on the bike. See support crew on bike exit, so quick chat and onto the bike. Better get comfy, I may be here for a while....

  • Sorry, for slowness of updates.  Been a while since I used one of these computer things, and I had to get my complementary massage, and try to get my money's worth from the buffet.


    So now I'm on the bike, the big challenge, don't cane it. Normally then I'd be wanting to move through the field on the bike, but my tactic was to find a nice little gap, and just stay there, not getting too close to the person in front to get pinged fro drafting, but just go at an easy pace and not overcook it. Having only done 10 hours cycling since last autumn now was not the time for heroics....Having said all that, first hill and some spectators are yelling 'go girl' at the person I'm following. Seemed a bit sexist to me, so I heckled the spectators and put the hammer down up the hill. As I was passing the 'girl' then I notice it's Ally, so apologise and then head off up the hill. Having scouted out this bit of the course then I know it's only a minute of out the saddle, and then it's into a nice little rhythm and out of town. Get back into my plan of finding someone who's going a little slower then I naturally want to and check on the Polar power that I'm in the right area (plan of maintaining about 180 watts average on the flat). Cool, and that's it for about the next hour and a half, although there is definitely a head wind building up and that makes progress slower than expected out to the turn around. In fact it's 1 hour 50 before I get there and that means two things. Firstly, it's going to be a long day, and secondly, even at this pace I'm fine for the cut off, so no need to push it. However, I've not been able to eat anything, even gels are leaving me wretching, and my back has given up, meaning that I can only spend a couple of minutes on the tri-bars at a time. Then onto the drops, then the hoods, and back to the tri-bars. Not good as this adds to the headwind, and also moves me away from the aero straw and as I'm not eating I need to make sure I take the drink.

  • CRAB,

    Pourquoi n'êtes-vous pas dehors sur votre vélo ?

    Reaching the turnaround and with the wind behind, and a generally downhill return then I'm starting to do the maths on the bike time. I reckon 1:30 on the way back, so just short of 3.5 for the first lap, and 7ish in total allowing for a little slow down and the added distance of the second lap. Not good, but fits with the plan. That plan being 'Get the t-shirt'. Back into town and I'm now really enjoying it. See AndyS from Tri-talk and work out he's about 10 minutes behind me, and then Ally looking good a few minutes further back. Start thanking all the race crew, marshals and supporters that are out lining the course and doing a great job of cheering us on. We'd been asked to each thank one marshal as we went round. I reckoned that some people up the pointy hatted end of the field may forget so took it upon myself to try to thank absolutely every marshal on the course. And that's about 1800 on race day in IMNZ. Yep, that's right nearly two thousand people come out to be official crew, with goodness knows how many more cheering people on, and this was on a day when it was peeing it down and blowing a gale. And this is why I'll be coming back.

    Anyway, back to me and the bike. Forced half a bar down and that meant that I couldn't even face drinks for 15 minutes, but then found that sticking to my planned drink strategy, and adding a gel every 15 seemed to be ok, in that I felt rough, but wasn't actually being sick, so abandoned the bars altogehter. Into town and the support was great. My adoptive local business was a restraunt and as I went passed then I got a big cheer, which was a nice touch, and then along the seafront passed the camper and support crew. 1:30 for the return, just as I guessed. Brief shout of expected splits and round to special needs. I'd put some more drink concentrate into a bag, along with spare tubes, CO2 and a gear and brake cable in case of a first lap disaster. So I grabbed the drink, brief chat to see who was a cyclist at the special needs before donating my un-needed goodies and off for lap two. Now this is the only negative bit I've got to say about the course. To prevent the laps crossing then there is a weird little extra bit added to the start of lap two on the bike and that adds a climb and is a bit demoralising, but it's only 10 minutes or so, but is at a bad time as you're just leaving all the support, starting the second lap and is a pretty quiet bit of the course for support. Anyway, the weather was now really ropey, and I was glad of the Gillet I'd picked up in the Thursday as it was now pouring down and the wind really whipping up straight into your face. The back was still uncomfortable, but so far then my hip wasn't hurting and the only discomfort was on the inside of my right knee. Still keeping up the pace and the plan of just following someone and by now that meant it was the same couple of people as I'd found some at the right pace, and we swapped places as people went through good and bad phases and in some cases loo stops. So turn around on lap 2 bang on 2 hours which was still on target for the 7 hour split, and now with the boost of the wind behind me then I was going to make the end of the bike, and then nothing was going to stop me. A stranded cyclist by the side of the road brought me back to earth as I realised that anything could still happen and these may be outside my control, so no time to start celebrating yet.

  • Cripes, I go away for 5 weeks and Hull City nearly get into the premiership and runners world turns into le monde du joggeur,

     It's all too strange.


    However, although the rain got worse, then I made it back to T2 without any further hassles, and not feeling too bad. I'd taken it easy, but the big test was now about to come. I'd blagged an IM swim and bike on no training, but could you do the marathon on half a dozen treadmill 10ks, and a 75 minute outdoor run in race week?

    Well, it all starts well, and the first 5k go by at 9 minute miles (trying to aim for 10s), but feeling good. Nice. However, now I'm feeling sick again, and so I try the walk and eat/drink tactic, but that's not happening. Remembering the Longest day experience I'm thinking that it could simply be hunger, it's been 10 hours since I've eaten now. However, this isn't happening and food and drink is returning. Oh dear. So at the turnaround point then I decide that if I'm to finish then a swift walk that doesn't agitate the stomach is the way to go. A few minutes and I'm happy that I can 'power walk' at 14 minute miles and some maths says that's about 14:30 in total. Fine. By now the rain is really pouring down, and I'm not sure if it's this or the fact I'm walking, but my feet start getting sore. Still, only a lap and a half to go, and there are so many people to chat to as you're going around, competitors or spectators that have put up tents and are having BBQs, to the hundreds of marshals that are out. Back into town after 2:30 and I let the support crew know it's going to be about 3:30 -4:00 before I'm back again. Feet are agony, but if I stop then I know it will be hard to get going again. I've also realised that I've only drank .5l since starting the run and even taking into account the rain then it's still warmish and I need to drink more. But the walking is being easy on the stomach, and a quick test of a run shows that the sickness comes back immediately if I run and the pain from the blisters is no better running, so walking it will be. Around the turnaround and it starts to get dark, so we get given glow tubes, but the supporters are still out there, cheering and chatting to everyone. What a great feeling, and I'm having the time of my life. Big grin on my face, chatting to a few people that are also walking, and even a few that are running at 14 min miles or slower.

  • Cos I'm STILL at a fckn airport and it's in the bike box. Is that a good enough reason?

    NZ you were.

    By now then I could see that it was going to be tight for a 14:30, and in reality then a 14:40 was more likely. In any event both were a success, but the sensible target of 14:30 kept me pushing a bit, and so it came to be, that with a brief pause to make sure the hat was on straight and I wasn't covered in vom, then I ran down the chute for a 14:29:50 finish and that t-shirt.

    Mission accomplished.

    AndyS and Ally both came in shortly after, also having moved to a power walk strategy and essentially keeping the same time gaps as the end of the bike.

    Post Race

    Feet a total mess. In fact I've still got the blisters now, although have been hiking on them since. But the event is superb and looking back then I now know that if I can put the training in again that I did for IMA then I can do a fast time. I have the ability and the mind to achieve that, and so that's now the plan. A fast time at IMUK in 2009 and then probably back here for a chance to do the event justice in 2010. What really makes the event stand out is not the course or the setting, but the support. Unlike Austria where there may have been more people whilst the pros were out, then even on a terrible day weather wise then they stayed out into the dark. You really can't beat this race, and although it's a long way away then I'd suggest you can do it for the same price as IMCH as it's so cheap over here. And much of the agro is getting to the airport and packing, so if you fly AirNZ direct from Heathrow to Auckland then it's not that much worse that any other flight.

    The End.

  • popsiderpopsider ✭✭✭
    Well done
  • well done that man

    have a good flight back
  • great report

    if I ever do another ironman, this will be the one, its top of my list to visit 

  • Superb stuff.  Its snowing here so no need to rush back - it will be choas for a few days!!! image 

    A well earned T shirt by the sounds of it .. 

  • Nice report Dunc and a great days work.

    Get back to work now you skiverimage

  • Great report welldone,  definately one for the future.
  • Nice one Dunc. Know what you mean about Coramandel, it's a beautiful area as are so many other places in NZ.

    Definitely planning on being there next year - at the momentimage.  Entries open in April.

  • Oh great report - and great effort - way to blag an ironman - fantastic time too !
  • Well done Dunc, now you can start some proper training for the Pennile Duathlon.
  • well done duncan.  sounds like a really tough day.
  • congrats duncan sounds like you had a very good race under the circumstances.

    i hope you had a good flight back.

    for all those of you thinkging of coming out here - just do it.  its a very special place indeed and ok you can go home again afterwards if you want to but believe me it isn't compulsory image

  • great report dunc, well done.
  • Cheers peeps.   I've some photos to put up later when I get time, but for now then there are a few on http://flickr.com/photos/duncan74_photos/sets/72157603956198171/

     Sooo not looking forward to the 5am alarm call tomorrow.

  • 5am alarm, are you mad? Glad you see you back safe and well. The snow must have been a shock?
  • Great report Dunc , thoroughly enjoyed reading this, appears this race will need serious consideration for the future. I am a fan of fans!

  • Great report Dunc - glad to hear you enjoyued yourself. Maybe you should holiday around the South Island next time - just got back myself from 10 days in Fiordland and it was magic.
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