Race Analysis: Ironman Western Australia + 70.3 Bahrain

Ironman Western Australia

Western Australia is the last Ironman distance race of the year. Interestingly, after large professional rosters last year, smaller fields are lining up for the 2015 edition of the race in Busselton. While the 21 man list is shorter it does not lack strength at the top end. Defending champion Denis Chevrot is back after a 8:05 performance last year, capped off with a 2:49 marathon. Tim Reed is making his return to Ironman racing after focusing on half ironmans for most of 2015. He will be challenged by Luke McKenzie, who would like to avenge a crap race in Kona. Fredrik Croneborg was 2nd by only :10 at IM Malaysia but after two hot races he could be lacking some firepower. David Dellow and Per Bittner were 3rd and 4th respectively at Challenge Roth so look out for them to come through the field during the bike and run. On the women’s side two strong cyclist/runner combos in Yvonne Van Vlerken and Sarah Piampiano could charge through the field late to steal the win. Mareen Hufe tore up the bike course last year so she may be out in front early with the likes of Kate Bevilaqua, a past champion in Busso. Sarah Crowley and Dimity-Lee Duke are also strong and could find themselves in the top 5.

(Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for Challenge Triathlon)

(Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for Challenge Triathlon)

Tim Reed

Last year, 2015 KPR, you didn’t race a single Ironman, any particular reason for the switch back this year?

Not so much a ‘switch back’ because up until now my focus has always been on the key 70.3 distance events. We decided on continuing to focus on the 70.3 distance in 2015 because of the introduction of the triple crown and because we were having our second child. The 70.3 distance is more lucrative and it allowed me a little more energy and time to help out on the home front. Now I really feel that it’s time to start to give the Ironman distance a lot more attention if I want to one day be right up there in Kona.

Where will you focus be for the 2016 KPR season?

The regional 70.3 championships, 70.3 world championships and Kona.

You did not wear the budgy smuggler at 70.3 Port Macquaire, and opted for a sleeved tri suit. Is the budgy smuggler no longer? Or will you switch into one for the run during the IM?

Riding in budgy smugglers is normally very comfortable except for on quite rough roads like Port Macquarie. So I thought it best to use the full sleeved suit and then switch to smugglers for the run. Josh Amberger was a little too far up the road for comfort getting off the bike so I stayed in the sleeved kit for the whole race. I’ll be riding Busselton in a sleeved suit and then switching to budgies for the run for sure. Budgy smugglers are still the most chafe free triathlon suit I’ve run in.

Sarah P

Sarah Piampiano

I saw on social media that you were in Perth last week and doing some work with Paul Newsome in the pool. Did he give you some good tips for the race this weekend?

Working with Paul was great! I only wish I had some more time with him! He did give me some good tips in terms of how to swim the course in Busselton, but the focus of my time with him was really about stroke correction. We identified some big key things and have a plan in place with my coach, Matt Dixon, in terms of how to begin fixing them. But as with anything, changes can take time to implement, become habit and then reap the benefits so I’m not expecting any massive breakthroughs in my swim time for this race. But rest assured I will be working hard over the winter!

In Kona you played the patience game in terms of racing–letting the race come back to you. IMWA is a smaller field and I suspect it might be more spread out after the swim. Will you approach the race differently or continue to “not chase” at the beginning of the ride?

To be honest, I’m not sure. I haven’t gone over my race plan with Matt yet, so I am not completely sure what he has in mind. Each race breeds a slightly different approach based on the competitiveness, the number of racers, the elements, the course profile and where I am at in terms of fitness and training. Kona is its own beast and for that race and that day the strategy Matt asked me to execute on was perfect. If I were to guess I would suspect I might need to be a bit more aggressive on the bike given the field, but one thing we did learn in Kona is that a more modest build into my ride effort seems to suit me well and, ultimately, I want to set myself up to run under 3 hours here. So….we will see! I am excited to see what Matt will lay out for me!

How was the recovery from Kona? Did you bounce back relatively quickly and bank some good training for the last race of 2015?

My recovery from Kona was tough. I knew it was going to be a difficult and longer recovery process because racing in those kind of elements – particularly the heat – is very draining, but it still took me longer than I expected. It was actually a little demoralizing as typically I am good to go after 4 weeks (on a longer recovery) and 4 weeks in I was still a wreck. It certainly began to play some mental games with me as my prep for this race has been more up and down than, for example, my prep for Kona where I was miss consistency. I give a lot of credit to Matt though. He has managed the mental aspect of this prep very well, continually assuring me that the ups and downs after a race like Kona are normal and to be expected, but that doesn’t mean I am not fit or that I can’t have a wonderful result here. The last few weeks though I’ve really felt things coming together and I am excited to get out there and race. I have some big goals to end the season!

What’s the deal with the applesauce?

haha! I don’t know why this is so weird to people!

I bring certain food items with me to every race just because I have learned from experience that they food I want isn’t always available – or available in the way I like it. SO…I always bring GF oats, TJ’s almond butter (2 jars), organic apple sauce and Safe Catch tuna (which is mercury free). Sometimes the places I go have what I want, but sometimes not….so this way I never have to worry about it! Laura Siddall (my teammate) thinks the applesauce thing is so ridiculous. It may be….but I think there are weirder race habits than that!

Kate B

Kate Bevilagua

What got you sick in Malaysia? I was impressed by your performance given you were up puking one day before the race. I assume you were able to get something down before the race and race nutrition was okay?

I honestly don’t know but I am assuming it was something I ate on the Thursday night. Guy and I had been there for 10 days prior to that and I was being very careful and smart about my food choices. So it was very frustrating after all that time for it to happen just over 24 hours before race start. I was lucky in that most of the vomiting was Thursday night. Friday and Saturday I rally just had to deal with that queasy feeling in your stomach. You think you want to be sick but then it goes away for a little while before it comes back! On Friday morning and throughout the day I was able to keep food down and was sticking to just simple bread, pasta…very plain foods. I just tried to get as much in as possible. Dehydration was probably the biggest issue so was drinking plenty! Race day nutrition was fine but I did notice I was eating and drinking more that I normally would in an Ironman. I knew I would obviously drink more in that hear and humidity but I was glad I had a few extra GU gels with me and I was grabbing a few banana’s on the bike which normally I wouldn’t do.

Have you recovered from Malaysia? Beyond the food poisoning the heat can really take a lot out you. Do you find that doing an Ultraman earlier in the year has made you recover faster from one day efforts?

I actually pulled up quite sore and more fatigued than I usually do after an Ironman. I was complaining to Guy I was feeling worse than I did after running the 84km in Ultra520 Canada on day 3! I do think this is a combination of the heat and humidity and also traveling after the race home back to Perth. I found doing a 3 day Ultra Event very different to the one day Ironman Event. Plus you are going at a faster pace (Hopefully!) during the one day events.

The women’s field is smaller than it has been in recent years. Do you think this will affect the dynamics of the race?

This totally surprised me! I was expecting at least 30 women on the start list like we had at Ironman Malaysia. Especially with everyone chasing Kona points and wanting to give them early. I think it is a shame because it is great racing with the bigger fields and much more exciting for spectators! Looking at the start list everyone has there strengths and weaknesses, I predict there will be a few lead changes throughout the day but it will come down to the last 10km of the run!

IMWA is the site of your first Ironman victory. Does this give you extra motivation on race day–especially when it gets tough, as it often does in a long distance race?

I am always motivated on race day! If not….I wouldn’t start a race, especially an Ironman. I often tell people…you can fake a half and get through it….but an Ironman….you have to be mentally and physically ready. The great thing about racing in Western Australia is knowing some many people out there on the course and spectating. Rather than being in a foreign country where you may get a few cheers from strangers on the side of the road, racing at home “everyone” knows your name, lifts your spirit, even fellow athletes out on the course are cheering you on. It is pretty awesome!

Ironman 70.3 Bahrain

The big story in Bahrain is Daniela Ryf’s chance for a million dollar payday. With all the changes to the race series (Oman cancellation/70.3 world replacement race + Challenge Bahrain SNAFU) the hype seems to be muffled a bit. However, if she takes the win, likely barring a sickness or race mechanical, she would cap off one of the most dominant long course seasons the sport has ever seen. Jodie Swallow and Caroline Steffen are the two women who could give chase but once Ryf turns on the jets during the bike it will probably be a one woman show on the run. Most of the men’s field will probably end up chasing Henri Schoeman out of the water. Brent McMahon and Ruedi Wild, former ITU competitors, might be able to hang onto his feet in the water. Schoeman can also run fast, he recently threw down a 30 minute 10k during training in South Africa, but how is he on a TT bike? Wild, Alberto Casadei, James Cunnama and Bart Aernouts are doing the Phuket/Bahrain double and the heat and subsequent travel might have taken the snap out of their legs. Ben Hoffman raced well against the ITU crowd in the Island House Triathlon and he has the potential to finish out the season with a strong race.

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photo credit: 2014 Bahrain GP via photopin (license)

About the Authors

Zach Miller
Zach Miller is a sports enthusiast and age group triathlete living in the The Woodlands, TX. He is the Host of The Triathlon Preview Show. Follow @trifantasy The Triathlon Preview Show: iTunes Podcast
Emily is a professional triathlete and swim coach living in Napa, CA. Emily swam for the University of Michigan and completed her first tri in 2004 at the Chicago Triathlon. She worked for seven years as a paralegal, followed by three years as an Assistant Swim Coach for the University of Illinois-Chicago. Presently, she lives and trains in Napa, California while working for the Napa Valley Swim Team and coaching several age group triathletes.