Escape Des Moines and Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga World Championship

Escape Des Moines

This 10 day 2 race road trip started off with the Escape Des Moines Olympic Distance Triathlon. With the main focus being on Ironman 70.3 World Championship the following weekend, James planned a short taper for Des Moines. My goal going into the race was still a podium finish, but I knew I had my work cut out for me with some very strong competition including Javier Gomez, Jason West, Rudy Von Berg, and Kevin Collington.

 I spent the whole bike ride in no man's land chasing the leaders until the final 2km. Rode over 45km/h on the flat and fast course.

I spent the whole bike ride in no man's land chasing the leaders until the final 2km. Rode over 45km/h on the flat and fast course.

I had a decent swim coming out with the main chase pack about 60-75 seconds down on the leaders, Gomez, West, and Von Berg were ahead. I was able to bike away from the guys I swam with and passed West and Gomez late in the bike with Von Berg about 30 seconds ahead to start the run. It was my lowest power for an Oly Tri this season, but still a solid ride and I finally got the fastest bike split! Early in the run, West and Gomez went by me, those boys were flying and I didn't try to go with them. At the first turn around I saw that I had a sizeable lead on Collington in 5th, which was a bit of a relief. My legs just didn't feel strong on the run, but I managed to run pretty well for the first 3km or so. I could see the 3 guys ahead of me pulling away so I decided not to push too hard for the last 7km since I knew there wouldn't be any position changes for me.  I crossed the line in 4th, pleased with the result, and quickly switched my focus to World's.

 Cool to be on the extended podium with some awesome athletes, including the legendary Javier Gomez.

Cool to be on the extended podium with some awesome athletes, including the legendary Javier Gomez.

Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Chatanooga

The travel and preparations before World's went quite well. Montana and I traveled to Chattanooga with Mike Hay, a team mate and triathlon veteran in the 50-54 age group. We had a chance to ride/drive the bike course and some of the run course. I also swam in the Chattanooga river and familiarized myself with the entire flow of transition. I knew the race would come down to having a good swim and strong first 1 hour of the bike, which included a very long climb. Waiting for this race was the hardest part, I knew I was in good shape for an outside chance at a top 10, but the real goal was just to execute the very best race I could and gain experience at my first 70.3 World Championship.

Worlds Swim Dive Start.jpeg

The swim was a dive start off a dock. After about 300 meters there was a right hand turn then about 800m of swimming against a current. Then the last portion of the swim was with the current. A good first 300 meters was absolutely critical in order to be settled into a pack during the long section against the current. I started right beside fellow Canadian Brent McMahon. My goal was to swim with him early and end up on his feet by the first turn buoy, I knew with his experience and swimming ability that he would end up in the main lead group. The cannon went and I had a good dive and first 50 meters. After that, everyone started moving to the right and I got bumped a lot, which is completely normal for a competitive race with lots of strong swimmers. I wasn't able to keep my speed as my stroke kept getting interrupted. I really need to work on swimming well in a rough start situation. I just missed the big group and swam with a couple others, we ended up about 75 seconds behind that group. For a non wet suit swim I was fairly pleased with the swim, making that group would have been a breakthrough swim and I just wasn't quite there yet.

 Running to transition, photo by Patrick Smith.

Running to transition, photo by Patrick Smith.

While running to transition I looked around and saw Kevin Collington and Taylor Reid right with me. This was good news, I knew they could potentially be good allies if we work together to bridge up to the main group. I rode strong for the first 8km of flat riding before the climb, holding about 305 watts. I looked behind me, and surprisingly I had dropped Taylor and Kevin. For the first 13 minutes of climbing, I held a strong but controlled effort, averaging 333 watts. The plan was to ride fast until I got in the group, so I couldn't go too crazy on the hill.

Powerhouse cyclist Andi Dreitz caught me near the top of the climb and I stayed 12m behind him, I knew I had a good chance to make the group riding with him. Taylor and Kevin also rode well up the climb and were now not far behind. As I switched into the small chain ring to get up the final steep section, I dropped my chain. I jumped off the bike as Taylor and Kevin went by, a few others passed me as well while I struggled to free the chain from being jammed between the small chain ring and the frame. I finally got it back on after what felt like forever (later analysis would reveal about 35 seconds of complete stoppage time, resulting in about 45 seconds of lost time). I hopped back on and begun a massive effort to attempt to catch back up with the small group I had been in. For the next 18 minutes, my normalized power was 331 watts to attempt to catch. If not for the slight draft benefit I got staying 12 meters behind Sebasian Kienle after he passed me, I would have been out of luck. Fortunately I did catch the group, and I was quite content to stay at the back to try to recovery from the torturous effort I had just endured. Not long after I caught up, the pace was lifted as Kienle got to the front. I was last in the line, and the two athletes ahead of me got dropped. I then rode alone for about 15-20 minutes, attempting to bridge up, which I eventually did. When I caught back up, the group had split into 2 groups. For the remainder of the bike, I sat at the back of the group to try to recover, and we lost several minutes on the stronger pack ahead.

 Starting the run.

Starting the run.

Within the first 1km of the run, I was in last place out of the guys I had ridden with, which was 21st place. I told myself to run my own race, knowing that at World's many guys will run too hard early on. This prediction came true as I passed 2 guys from that group in the first 6km. I then ran alone for a long time, until 14km when Matt Hanson passed me. Then at around 16km mark Brent McMahon passed me which was odd since I definitely remembered seeing him gradually pull away from me at the start of the run. Apparently he had to take a pit stop. So I was in 20th, and definitely wanted to hold onto that position. My legs weakened badly in the last 5km but I tried to hang on. Turning onto the the bridge about 1.5km from the finish, I saw Taylor Reid was only about 30 meters ahead. I bared down and reeled him in with 800 meters to go. He looked over his shoulder and saw me, then immediately picked up the pace. The last 800 meters was mostly downhill, and he just kept lifting the pace gradually. With about 300 meters to go he put in a big surge and I struggled to hang on, he got about a 3 meter gap on me, but I held it right there. With 100 meters to go I saw the finish line and went all out to catch him, he couldn't match my sprint and I crossed the line in 19th place.

 Second time in a sprint finish with Taylor Reid this season. This was probably the fastest last 800 meters of any race I have done.

Second time in a sprint finish with Taylor Reid this season. This was probably the fastest last 800 meters of any race I have done.

All in all I was very happy with the effort and with the result. Its impossible to say for sure, but I may have gotten into the front group on the bike if I had managed to keep my chain on. Its entirely possible though that I would have ended up in the same group regardless and had the exact same result. I really enjoyed racing the 2017 70.3 World Championship and have no regrets!

 Montana and I the night before the race

Montana and I the night before the race

This trip was a lot of fun and wouldn't have been nearly as enjoyable without the company and support from my better half Montana! Thanks Thierry and Corinne for hosting Montana and I for 2 nights between races. Thank you Mike and Maureen Hay for being awesome temporary room mates and road trip buddies. I also have to thank my coach James Loaring, my parents, my team mates, friends and family for their support! Last but not least, I have all my sponsors to thank. The LPC Hurdle Project, Lift King, Prolutions, Felt Bicycles, Dundas Speed Shop, ZiZU Optics, DKOS, Pearl Izumi, and Perfexia. You guys are all great, thanks for your help getting to where I am in the sport.

Next up for me is Escape Lake Geneva, thanks for reading!