How do you start other than what an experience. I’ve done 8 Ironman’s now and traveled to some pretty cool places but as far as a package deal goes, culture, race experience, history, interaction with the community and sheer beauty of the race, this is up there with the best experience I’ve had. From the moment we arrived in Miyakojima we had the TV crew filming as we left the airport and awaiting interview.
This race is a Really big deal for the Japanese and that surrounding countries, the race sells out very fast every year having up to 1600 athletes. Being so well organised and in a beautiful location its no wonder this race has been so successful for the past 33 years.
Why the weird distances you ask? 3k swim, 157km bike, 42.2k run. Well the bike in particular, as bridges have been built to further islands they have lengthened the ride, hence the weird current distance.
Being an invited athlete we had a few more responsibilities then simply racing. This included Visiting the mayor of Okinawa and presenting him with gifts.
A school exchange with middle grade kids where they gave us a traditional karate performance , played games, spoke English with us so they could practise.
The level of English these kids could speak for their age was incredible. I fortunately had some Australian gifts to give to them which was awesome to see the Aussie flags being waved on course. This was by far one of the most memorable experiences of the trip as the kids really melted my heart.
Next was my first press conference with a room full of Japanese journalists and translators. Was pretty alien to me sitting along side Cam Brown.
Fast forwarding through the busy scheduled of the week and onto the race we were fearful of a cancelled swim as the previous day the wind got up “Hawi like” strong, had the race been Saturday it would of been a duathlon. It did settle a bit by race morning but was still a lumpy swim.
I was with the main swim group for a bit, until I gulped a mouth full of chop, coughed a heap, then watched them swim away. Being the swimmer I am, I cant afford to make a single error in the swim.
Exiting the 3k swim 6mins from the lead swimmer I set to work on the bike and rode myself into 3rd pretty quick, aiming not to see 300w+ too often but sitting on the top tube and capitalising on all the little down hills, bringing the gap to 2nd place down to 3:30 But Browny was now out to 7min.
I think too many out of the saddle efforts a pretty rubbish VI saw me fading pretty bad in the last hour from 130-157kms, in the last hr I give up about 10mins.
Side note… Spectacular bike course. You ride around the entire island of Okinawa, and also across bridges to 3 smaller islands, one of which is a dragon like 4.5km ride. I had 1250m of climbing in 157k’s. There’s no “main climb” rather the roads always up or down.
However it’s always nice to do a long course race and practice your race nutrition as I find in different heat and conditions it varies. For this race being about a 4 hr ride I had my Ventum One bottle full of Infinit Nutrition (Salted Caramel 78.5g carb mix) which the Ventum bottle is equivalent to 2x 700ml water bottles, then a triple concentrate bottle behind the saddle which I topped up the Ventum’s bottle adding water and also drinking some of the water, swigs of coke when I could get it later in the race and 2 salt tablets.
If you want a tuff honest bike course, where the wind is never really favourable a fair bit of technical cornering, a course where you are either going up or down and a to die for view…. this is right up your alley.
Now once again, for the 4th time in 4 races… The run was an unknown quantity, I hadn’t run more then 20k in a single run since Kona, mainly 40-60k run weeks, and all super easy 5-6min/km pace building up my lost foundation.
Strongman probably didn’t fall at a great time of the year for me as I was so busted up last year and at the beginning of this year even completing the race was questionable.
However with an approach to come out the other side of the race feeling strong and ready to continue building rather then cram speed work in, run faster and set myself back, still saw me run a 3:12 marathon in the heat.
The run is a simple 21.1k out…… 21.1k back. Once again your either going up or down, I got off the bike in equal 4th place with Park Byunghoon who was once a 2:16 marathoner passed me fairly quickly, last years winner also came by at about 7kms, putting me back to 6th.
The course was full of energy with lively spectators all yelling (the time of writing this I can’t actually remember the word or meaning… haha, but everyone was saying it)
By 22k I was back in 4th place with a 4min gap, thinking I was safe at the 33k mark my hammies started to cramp both sides forcing a stiff left shuffle here and there. I honestly didn’t expect to get away with running a marathon off a cooked and bike and minimal run prep trouble free. Victor passed me with about 3-4kms to go, by that stage I was more then happy to settle for 5th
You finish the run by entering a big stadium and running 200m around a track with a host of school kids chasing you and dragons running beside you. Was an amazing experience.
It was a nice way to pop the virgin pro race cherry, with Cam Brown taking the win, German Simon Jung 2nd, Canadian Shawn Wileyman 3rd, Ukrainian Victor 4th and myself 5th
A lot of lessons learnt. Some positives that came out of it, but excitingly I feel good and am excited to start a proper Ironman prep. I can’t wait to race healthy and at full capacity again.
Top 5 all of a re-invite for next years race so there is a change we will all be toeing the line again. This is a race I’d really like to win one day as it is a massive honour for the Japanese. However it required you buying a new suitcase so you have something to take all the trophies home in.
Thanks Heaps Gary Sato who’s the international athlete coordinator for lining me up for this race… I really appreciated it mate, and cheers to all the guys and girls for making it such a fun trip!