Race report Challenge Dubai

Like I already posted a while ago on Facebook this was my first race back in a very long time after dealing with achilles issues that kept me away from racing. Together with Krüger Coaching I made a plan in november that would have me in peak fitness condition last Friday. The plan started with a 3 week camp in Club La Santa in November, then 4 weeks at home over christmas before we took off to our annual XC skiing camp in early January. After that I was back to CLS for another 2 week camp with Camilla Pedersen. Initially we wanted to stay there longer, but the resort was fully booked at the time we were making the plans, so instead I decided to go to Phuket for the last 2 weeks of training leading in to the race. This would also give me another benefit, as I would be training in very hot conditions there and also travelling in to the race from the east making adjustments to time difference much easier in race week. During my rehab I used my ThoraxTrainer a lot to gain fitness without putting any stress on bones and ligaments as well as strengthening some of my weaker areas.
Training in these 4 months went almost perfect. No issues whatsoever during training and I was just getting stronger and stronger. The last month coming in to this race I had som amazing rides on the bike, and my run was slowly coming together also. I was not quite running as good as the best I have done in the past, but it was solid. This made us very confident that I would have a great race in Dubai, as this very focused approach to a single race has worked great in the past.

We arrived in Dubai 4 days out of the race, the night between Monday and Tuesday. All the hard training was done, now it was just a matter of freshening up and keeping the body sharp and ready. I did som riding both indoors and outdoors, swam in the ocean and ran on the course. I was ready.

Race morning everything was different compared to our first days in Dubai. The wind was BLOWING and the waves were huge in the ocean. The swim was announced as a wetsuit swim, but either was fine for me. Sighting during the swim was almost impossible because of the big waves, but I managed to get around with the front guys and hit the beach in about 22:30.
In T1 I could feel it was a while since I had been racing, and even though I had practiced everything nothing puts the stress on you like in a race. Nevertheless I was still in contact with the leading group as we started the bike.
Immediately I tried to make forward progress in the group on the bike, and within no time I was together with Raelert, Potts, Gomez etc. at the very front. Coming out of the city there was a bit of overtaking back and forth, but as soon as we hit the highways I put down the pedal and went to the front and took off. Our goal was to average 340w, and I focussed on keeping that pace as we had practiced. Soon I had a significant gap and couldn’t see the others behind me anymore.
As most of you probably know by now there was an incident during the bike leg where 5 athletes took a wrong turn in a roundabout and therefore missed approximately 2.5 km of the course. It was about 50km in to the ride and my lead at that time was about 90 seconds. Obviously this brought a lot of confusion in my head when I caught back up to back of this group at about 65km. The rest of the ride was very emotional, as I was upset by what had happened and wanted to make sure that the referees knew something was wrong and took notice of their names.
I managed to catch back up to everyone but Terenzo Bozzone who then reached T2 just ahead of me. My ride was 2.02.43 for the full 90km. Avg pace was sligthly under 330w. In the youtube video below you can see me approaching the roundabout where the other guys made their wrong turn. I was also a bit confused as I approached the roundabout and had to get out of the aeroposition to make sure I took the right exit (1st exit to the right). I know the athletes who did the wrong turn didn’t do so on purpose. I have great respect for every single one of them as persons and athletes and know they would never do anything like this intentionally. It is a very unfortunate situation in a race with so much at stake.

As I started the run my legs felt stiff for the first few km but then I actually found a nice rhytm. This lasted until about 12 or 13km where I had to push a little bit harder to maintain the pace I was running.
Around 17 or 18km I was overtaken by Tim Reed who was the first athlete to do so who had also done the full bike loop.
Right after that I also started to feel some pain in my right quadriceps muscle. It wasn’t a good kind of pain, so I decided to reduce pace in order to not make any damage the last few km.
I actually thought I was home safe when I reached the finish chute in 6th position (but 2nd athlete to do the full course) but suddenly I could hear Bart Aernouts coming flying from the back. I accelerated with full power but only managed a few strides before I felt a snap in my quad. I lost the sprint, but I continued to the finish and went straight to the medical tent for treatment. After several hours in the medical tent I was sent to the hospital for further examinations and didn’t get back to the hotel until late in the evening. There was no clear verdict from the hospital other than I had a tear in my adductor muscles in my right leg. It is not a complete tear, so recovery shouldn’t take too long, but I will have more examinations with my team here in Denmark.

Initially the plan was to race IM South Africa in 4 weeks, but right now that doesn’t seem like a good idea, so we will have to see how the body responds in the next week and then make new plans. One thing is for sure. I love these big races and I will be back for more. I have some unfinished business that I need to set straight.