I got exactly what I came all the way to Hokkaido, Japan for! I am now an Ironman Champion – I like the feeling. I flew out there about a week before the race, since it was a 7 hrs time difference from Denmark and I wanted to be fully adapted to the 6 o’clock start on race morning.
The first 4 or 5 days I think I was the only English speaking person on the island of Hokkaido. It was some interesting days resulting in me eating things I had absolutely no idea what was, but it gave me the time to sort all those things that need to be sorted before race day. It was the first time they had the Ironman on Hokkaido, and even though the Japanese are very well organized there was a few things they can improve until next time. It was very difficult to find a good map of the bike course, and they didn’t put up any signs on the course until the night before. Since the bike course consisted of a short 25km out and back section with one big loop in between, I didn’t have the opportunity to ride the course before race day. Maybe it was also for the best, as the bike course can best be described as very challenging. The out and back section of the course was very easy and almost completely flat, but the middle section consisted of almost 2000m of vertical gain over 130 km. It was lots of climbing, steep descents with very sharp turns at the end, which meant you didn’t carry any speed from the downhills along for the next climb.
The race started quite controversial, as 4 or 5 Japanese pro athletes cut the swim course short (about 7-800 meters approximately) and thus were first out of the water. At first they were given a 4 minute penalty, but were later given another 4 minute penalty. Still the penalties didn’t quite match the advantage the gained from getting out of the water in about 45 minutes instead of 55 minutes.
I exited the water in a slow 49 minutes, still thinking I was way ahead, so I was very surprised to realize that I was only 5th or 6th position. Onto the bike I got straight into my pace, and soon caught up with the cheaters. I went straight by them, as I didn’t want to give them a chance to pace off me. Coming off the out and back section I didn’t know what to expect, so I tried to keep my pace at 340w going uphill, 290-300w on the straight and slight uphill sections and be as aerodynamic as possible on the descents. 340w is a fair bit below my threshold, so I knew I could keep that pace for a substantial amount of time. The km’s went by while drinking my High5 Isogels, and all of a sudden I was back in T2. I hadn’t seen anybody since I overtook the Japanese guys in the beginning so I didn’t know how far I was ahead. I had been told everything from 2 minutes to 10 minutes from the officials out on the bike course.
The run course started with a short 1,5 km out and back section, before we went out on the longest leg of the run course. During the first 3 km I didn’t see anybody, and my Scott Plasma bike was still the only bike in T2, which meant my lead was at least 14-15 minutes. After the 2nd turn around at 11km I timed my lead to 25-26 minutes, and from that moment I knew I could just cruise all the way to the finish line. Still 42km is a long way to run, but I tried to go as easy as possible and crossed the finishline in a totalt time of 8.47 with a 3.01 marathon. At the finishline I did an interview with firstoffthebike.com about the race:
After the race I went straight to the airport and caught the first plane back to Denmark, had a short change of clothes before I was back in the airport with Mette – headed for a well deserved holiday in Rhodes. It was 2 lovely weeks with pure recovery for body and mind.
Since my return to Denmark I have been getting slowly back into training, and right now I am targeting a few races by the end of the year to secure my slot at next years Ironman Hawaii. Currently I have 2000 points from Japan, and it takes an estimated 3000 points to get into the top 40 that will be selected on July 31st next year. The ranking can be found here.