Ironman Melb Race Report

Written by Craig Wright on . Posted in News

Mark Hoffmann has written a race report for Melbourne Ironman, thanks Mark and enjoy the read:

Ironman Asia Pacific Championships 23 March 2014 – A Personal Perspective, by Mark Hoffmann

I said on Facebook the day after Ironman that I/we was amazed and humbled by the amount of discussion and tracking of us competitors on the day of the race, it seemed like most of the active members of the club had tracked the progress of the 13 North Coasters. Having been in the sport for almost 20 years and having my first dabble at the ironman here is my personal account. Twelve months ago, I succumbed to peer group pressure (that’s what my wife calls it [and what she cautions our ‘kids’ against!]) after sitting half way through an ironman entry online for an hour deliberating. As many of you will know I have said for many years that “I have no interest in doing an ironman’ and now that changed. The opportunity to train with long term club friends Helen, Sue and Craig got me over the commitment line.

18 weeks of training over the summer was a daunting proposition, however the base period of training went better than anticipated and I managed PB races at both OD in Bunbury and half ironman at Albany, so far so good. Winning the major spot prize Shiv time trial bike at Albany introduced a good problem, I had just completed a bike fit with ACS on my time trial bike Beyond (known as Beyonce) and now had to decide whether I wanted to change. I stayed with what i was comfortable with. Like many plans, they change and I did less training with Helen, Sue and Craig than I had anticipated, especially with their weekday rides starting at a time beginning with a 4!! Then Fiona changed from a spectator to a competitor, we did quite a lot of training together, and I was also very appreciative of her advice and experience.

As the training volume increased in January and February Saturday rides and run off the bike progressively took up the whole morning, with progressive milestone rides of longest ever 130, 150, 170 and 180km. Alternate weeks we were doing SHIT (Special) High Intensity Training sessions of 1hr ride, 1/2hr running hill repeats, 1hr ride, Saturdays were generally based on Helens program. Then the double of Busselton Jetty Swim and the half marathon, never been there before, because I have never had an interest to swim the jetty (and many of you know why!!). On the Saturday I ran a PB half marathon running with Fiona and an ex Kalgoorlie tri club friend running identical pace, pushing each other. The daunting jetty swim as expected was challenging especially being unable to get into a swim rhythm for the first mile, however the box was ticked – the major training milestone! From here now the ironman was getting close and the event was ‘just around the corner’.

I was lucky in training, with no injuries, and my training only limited by a significant eye infection 3 weeks out from the race that stopped my training for a week – resulting in an early taper! We spent 10 days in Melbourne ahead of the ironman, with 3 days at the Formula 1 racing, and then the week lead up to the race, taking in a couple of AFL matches, being tourists and part of the build up to the race. I got a swim in at Frankston after aborting my first attempt with crappy weather, and did a few coast rides that parallels the run course.

The change between Tuesday and Thursday was amazing the North Coasters were all arriving and triathletes were everywhere around St Kilda. Fiona was last to arrive on the Friday afternoon on her tight FIFO roster. The Athlete Welcome and Race Briefing was held at the Palais Theatre and Mike Reilly was the MC, this along with some of the video and one of my original inspirations in the sport Greg Welch being inducted into the Australian Ironman Hall of Fame was all a bit emotional (I knew there was a reason I was sitting on my own). The low light of the ironman was no carbo loading party and no meltdown party, individuals were responsible for their own arrangements and athletes got a voucher for each to use at a venue from a list. So we organised tables with some of the North Coasters for both functions.

Saturday bike racking and gear bag check was uneventful, then spent the afternoon with my family (2 brothers and families in Melbourne) and my parents had travelled to Melbourne also.

A good sleep on the Saturday night and woke up to relatively benign conditions, resulting in a significantly different mindset to The Worlds in Perth (and looking back I was competing at Melbourne with many of the same friends). Sam drove us down to Frankston rather than taking the shuttle busses.

Hoffy IM prestart

The sea at Frankston was relatively flat, the lead up was quiet, and then it was time to get packed into my wetsuit by the expert Kerri Waterman and to the beach start line. My swim strategy was to start slow and with 6 buoys to swim wide of the buoys, so I didn’t get caught up in the masses trying to get around the buoys, and hopefully to maintain a reasonable swim rhythm. Started well and then swimming 30 wide around the buoys and I was at about 28 wide! There were people everywhere, however as advised by others it is more orderly, and a lot less agro than shorter swim races and everything seemed to go surprisingly well with good stretches of clear water. Turning the far buoy with 1200m to go, I started to think the swim leg is now possible, and keeping my swim mantra in my head. Around the last buoy and 250m into the beach, once on the sand it was “thank god for that, I can now make this it is only a matter of time”.

A nice slow transition and then out onto the bike, my parents had joined Robyn and Sam at the transition and bike turnaround. Out on the bike and saw Fiona early and she said she had a mechanical from her bike set up already. The day was cool and overcast and we had a tail breeze on the way out. The ride course is as boring as ……… with the tunnel near the turnaround being the only significant highlight. Before the tunnel the faster competitors were coming back along the freeway with many in large groups – so there was plenty of drafting. There were sin bins at each end of the bike course with Deb at the turnaround and Andree in Frankston. I had a minor mechanical on the second lap and stopping to have a bidon cage cable tied on, and saw one of my brothers and family near the turnaround (they live in one of the surrounding suburbs). On the way back, the wind had increased significantly making the ride back tough, however I was happy with the ride time just over 6hours.

Onto the run, and I was surprised that my legs had more in them than I had expected started with a 6 min k and then 10 at around 5minutes each and I was running down lots of people. I then backed off to around 5:20 target and was running freely. Sam on his mountain bike caught up with my at about 17 km after he had worked his way back through the North Coast competitors supporting each of them along the way. At 21km I thought this was going to be an excellent run, everything was going well and the point to point run was interesting. Then I started cramping in the hamstring, not badly but enough to make me stop each time, with salt and electrolyte tablets at each of the drink stations it managed to reduce in frequency after the 30km mark. A time well under 12 hours was possible, I had only hoped for a 12:XX time if the conditions were good. Sam kept encouraging me and runners around me, including a Canadian woman that was running with me for quite I while, earlier in the week I had met her at the St Kilda beach and she was asking me for advice on open water swimming!!!! I managed a run time just under the 4 hours.

Finished in 11:39 wow, I was stoked. Robyn & Sam and my brother & his son were at the finish to meet me, after talking and congratulating a number of the other North Coast athletes in the recovery area. Then beers and pizza with the Wright family finished the big day.

Ady   Whittaker 9:56:58  
Blake   Kappler 10:18:01  
Bill   Whalley 10:22:15 2nd   in age group, Kona Qualifier
Barry   Silverlock 10:23:43  
Helen   Vagnoni 11:12:43 Kona   Qualifier
Sue   Libbis 11:19:33  
Craig   Wright 11:36:09  
Mark   Hoffmann 11:39:12  
Fiona   Longden 11:48:36  
Ross   Skelton 12:32:23  
John   Cooke 13:47:35  
Mike   Tindale 13:53:33  
Sandy   Tindale 15:25:07 2nd   in age group


The Kona roll down and presentations were on the Monday and it was good to see Sandy and Bill presented with the second place in their agegroup.

Hoffy IM Presentations

Like any major journey it is never achieved alone and a special thank you to my family and each of the Ironman Gunnabies, the Tuesday riding to work group that became 3 Dams, and all of those that swum on Friday’s at 6am at Sorrento swimming group. Also a big thanks to the North Coast Family especially those I sought counsel from over the last 6 months, and in particular those that provided advice on the swim leg strategies.

A lot of people have asked about recovery. On day 2 we flew back to Perth, at the airport I took all the stairs rather than the escalators without thinking and didn’t feel it. After a quiet week it was then back into training for the Busso half, including the 3 dams ride. Will I do another one – definitely YES, and it won’t be another 20 years away!

Hoffy IM Finish