New Zealand’s Bevan Docherty writes about his first Ironman victory and discusses some of the differences between Ironman and ITU racing.
It’s funny how you look back on something and just think to yourself “it was just meant to be.” So looking back from winning the Ironman in my home town of Taupo on my first attempt, I can’t help but think fate had worked its magic.
From the years of training over that very course as a teenager, to my recent partnering with Specialized bikes, everything began falling into place nicely and I seemed to carry an exuberance and confidence into the event.
I have to admit there were a few nerves ahead of the race, but they were more from stepping into the unknown and fear of making silly mistakes, rather than self doubt.
Having grown up in Taupo, I’ve always known how magical it can be when the weather is good and it wasn’t far from perfect. The previous year the event had been shortened to a Half Ironman due to bad weather, so the event organizers were more than relieved to finally get a good one.
In the past for an International Triathlon Union event, you would essentially rock up to the transition 60 to 90 minutes before the start, set your gear up have a quick warmup, hurt yourself for two hours and then it’s over. Ironman takes a whole different level of organizational skills and focus. Days before the event you have to start building your nutrition plan, bike setup and support crew.
On race day, I was surprised with how relaxed and calm the mood was, it is so different to be around athletes who want to share this experience with others, as opposed to an ITU event where the whole goal is to hurt the other athletes as much as possible. I found myself sitting down at the start feeling guilty that I hadn’t done a warmup but convinced myself that I had at least eight hours to warm up and so just continued to just enjoy the moment and watch the sun rise.
Another thing that stood out before the race was just how clean and clear the water was. I’ve raced all over the world and unfortunately most swims you struggle to see your hand let alone the bottom. The water in Lake Taupo is just amazing. In fact, if you were skilled enough you could swim and drink at the same time.
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