Monday, April 26, 2010

Ironman South Africa 2010 Race Report

It is with mixed feelings that I write this race report. One the one hand I am very grateful and happy to have finished the race and set a new PB by 12 minutes but on the other hand I am disappointed in not achieving the goal I set for myself.

With every Ironman I learn something to do differently or things I will do the same than the year before. One thing I won't do next time is set a big target for myself. I wanted to qualify for Kona as my main goal and finish in the top three in my age group. At the end I was so tensed about it that it affected my whole race.

The whole week I was restless and not sleeping well including the night before, not good.

Well this is how the day went, sorry for the long post but the race report is one post and not like Kona in three parts.

On race morning everything went according to plan with no mishaps or hick ups. It was very chilly and getting in the water was actually nice and warm.

When the race director announced before the race start that the sea is very rough and choppy and the life savers will on their discretion take people out of the water when they see that you are struggling and are in danger I pissed myself.

This made me so scared as you know I am not the best swimmer there is. The director was right the sea was very rough and getting through the surf was hectic. The whole swim was just hard work and it felt as if I was in a washing machine getting tossed around and I swallowed sea water with every second breath.

When I finished my first lap I saw 34 odd minutes and was so happy, that just gave me that lift to push hard on the second lap. Swim time was 1h09:38 a PB on the swim by 6 minutes and that in less than perfect conditions.

Getting into T1 was quick but could have been faster as I struggled to get my wet suit off. Eventually I got going and was out in 2:40.

As soon as I was on the bike I felt so Nassea's. I pulled a Norman Stadler ( as shown in Kona braodcast where he puked on bike) on myself during the first 5 kilometers of the bike. I was puking sea water all the way, no food or drinks just pure sea water. First time this happened to me. It was terrible and as soon as I wanted to get into a rhythm I just started to puke. I puked close to 2 liters of sea water and that's an understatement..

When this eventually settled my throat was so sore and felt tight. I was scared to drink something never mind eating. At about the 10km mark I started taking in fluids. I think this would be my down fall during the run as I cramped a lot on the run and I think not hydrating from the start and enough on bike was the problem.

The bike was hard and my worse night mare came true with a NE wind blowing. It was not strong but it made cycling hard. The last 20km of each lap which is suppose to be the part where you can fly was now the part where I needed to work hard to get to the end of the loop.

My bike splits was constant with my first lap 1h41:41, second lap 1h42:33 but i faded on the last lap finishing it in 1h47:42. Total time for bike 5h11:24. My bike was 9 minutes slower than last year but considering the conditions I am happy.

T2 was good in a time of 1:52.

My run started good and I followed the run/walk technique again. It went super until the 18km mark and I could maintain a 4:45min/km pace. From 18km to 23km I was still maintaining the pace but could feel cramps coming and that it will be coming big time.

From 23km to 32km I could still manage 5min/km but was cramping a lot. As soon as I wanted to up the pace I cramped and had to slow down. With 10km to go I wanted to quit and was so close on more than one occasion. The last 10km was the toughest run I EVER experienced.

I was now cramping everywhere and was running(shuffeling) just to keep the motion, no pace setting. From 23km onwards I changed my run/walk strategy to 10minutes run with 45 seconds walk instead of 30 seconds walk.

Picture above is when the wheels came off including the spare wheel (o' wait the wheels were never on).

From 32 kilometers I was still running(shuffling) 10 minutes but was now walking 1 minute with every walk interval. With 5 kilometers to go I passed two athletes in my age group and this inspired me from walking the last 5km and just forced myself to keep running.
At the end of the day I am most disappointed in my run. I worked really hard during traning to run a 3h30 marathon and up to 23km it was possible.

I finished in a time of 10h10:13 and was so disappointed in not finishing Sub 10, something I want so bad, maybe next time.

When I entered the finish line I saw no one close behind me and started to walk and savour the moment. I saw the family next to the finish and High Five them as I finished. After the finish I went for a massage and was still fine. As soon as I walked away from the massage tent I got the shivers and was shaking all over.

I met the family in the family area but was so cold. A medical staff member saw me and took me to the medical tent. They took my temperature and it was 34c. They covered me with space blankets and other blankets and gave me hot food and Coffee. They took my blood pressure a few times and was monitoring my temperature. It took a long time before it was starting to climb.

Eventually it was getting better and they released me after my temperature was back at 36.5c.

This was the worst ever I felt after an IM and will take a long time to recover.

My finish time of 10h10:13 placed me 8th in my age group( 1 position better than last year), and the 4th South African in my group. There was a lot of strong international athletes and if I want to qualify for Kona I need to choose a race abroad with more slots.
With only 26 age group slots at IMSA and now with all these international athlets IMSA will be one of the more difficult races in future to get a slot to Kona.
Thank you to everybody who were following my progress online and for all the messages. I appreciate it so much. Just thinking of all the people waiting for me to finish kept me from quiting at 32km on the run.


  1. Great race report - congrats on the strong finish! I know it sucks when you don't hit your goal time - BUT here is the thing: You had SUPER tough swimming conditions, you were puking salt water (ouch) from the start of the bike (with 112 miles of bike and 26.2 miles of run ahead of you) AND tough headwinds? AND you were dehydrated and cramping on the run AND near hypothermic at the end??? AND you finished? You are amazing! I know you will hit the sub 10hr mark next time - and I know there will be a next time! Congrats, recover well!

  2. J, great report and photo's. I felt like I was there with you. I liked how you put into words what I also experienced in China, "not to set a big target". It can ruin your race. Same mental state happened to me. But nothing ventured, nothing learnt.

    First off, you did fricken awesome man. I thought you had a GREAT swim time before even knowing about the conditions.

    I thought you had a GREAT bike time, before even knowing about the Sea water.

    I thought you had a GREAT run time, before even knowing about the cramping.

    Funny, from your times I thought you were having a trouble free day and race of your life.

    To set a PB with bad things happening to you in all three disciplines is unbelievable. Don't worry about not getting a Kona slot, everything happens for a reason and as time goes on, this one will unfold. I could easily see you ripping a sub 10 on a trouble free day and for sure if you biked on a flatter, less windy course.

    J, lift your head high. You had a great race and you battled the physical and mental torture to finish. It sounded like hell and you truly SIU big time!!!

    Your an inspiration and I'm going to draw from your experience during my IMSG race. If I get in trouble, I'm going to think this happens to the best of us, like Johan, and just push through.

    After all, there is a reason they call it IRONMAN.

    Congrats again J and enjoy your beer, donuts and steak. haha.


  3. Cograts Johan. As you said every Ironman is different. You hung tough.


  4. you ran an awesome inspiring race! way to go on the swim and total PB! you should be proud of having represented yourself and SA as an elite athlete! you serve as an inspiration for all IM wannabe's! Cheers and rest well!

  5. B
    Thanks for the kind words, as Kim said Words from a wise man/guy, haha.

    good luck with IMSG and just SUI my friend.

    Will follow you and be with you all the way

  6. Hi Luis
    Thank you, appreciate

  7. John
    Thank you so much for the kind words. It's comments like these that make the whole Ironman lifestyle/experience worthwhile.

  8. Caratunk Girl

    Thanks for the message, appreciate it.It was really a hard day but as you said, i will come back and break that sub10 one day and then it will be SO special.

    Like the words from Katie Goodman on you homepage of blog, so true. Need to implement this in my life.

    Best of luck with your Triathlon training, must be awesome living in such a small community.

  9. Johan,
    Excellent report, and great race. Though it did not meet some of your expectations or targets, I thought you fought remarkably well. I can't imagine doing one of these things but that is my goal, if you can go from: "breast stroke hanging on to the lifeguard" TO - setting a PR Swim time in brutal surf...I feel like I should keep working at this!
    John is right you are -inspiration for all IM wannabe's!


  10. Hi Derek
    Thanks man, yes it is so hard not achieving targets but nothing I can do now except work on it to improve next time. Yes as I said before anything is possible through hard work as long as you enjoy it

    Even if it does not feel so great now at the end of the day I enjoy doing Ironman and Triathlon so much. It made me see what I am capable of and to live life to the fullest and as a bonus I am healthy and fit.

    Thanks for the message, appreciate it and you will get to your goal.

  11.! Great report and photos. What can I say that I haven't said before...I'm in awe, as always. I know you are disappointed to not meet your original goals but I also hope that you know what you accomplished under the conditions - the fact that you not only finished, but also with AMAZING times (a PR!) - is just truly incredible. Of course, given the amount of time, effort & love you put into your training, plus the wonderful support of Kim and DJ, I am not surprised. Your future races and triathlon experiences will only benefit from this years IMSA. It also so great to see DJ out there racing at IronKids, too! Hugs to all of you!

  12. Congratulations Johan! 10:10h is a very good finish time in perfect conditions and considering what you have been thru, 10:10h is an amazingly remarkable finish time. As everybody else has said, you are an inspiration for all of us. I recently read your "This is what 38kg look like" post and saw your 2003 photos, when you were not able to run for more than 30 minutes. Now, after reading your Ironman race report, you have just proved that anything is possible, if you set your mind to it. Congratulations again!

  13. Hi Nina
    Thanks so much for all the wishes and support.I appreciate it so much. Kim and DJ say Hello to you and Dana too.

  14. Doru
    Thanks, appreciate. Yes anything is possible.
    Thanks again