Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Luke McKenzie Wins IM China

blueseventys Luke McKenzie wins another IM ( this time in the scorching conditions of China)

Lukes race report is below.

TORTURE! That's what the race at Ironman China was this past Sunday!

My main focus for the early season was my defense of Ironman Malaysia two weeks ago. Unfortunately I had an upset stomach and the continual vomiting and dehydration forced me out of the race.( Despite this i lead out of the water in my blueseventy swimskin and had the lead up untill the 50k into the bike) I knew I was in good shape and wanted to utilize my fitness so I decided to line up at Ironman China for a "second chance". I was definitely looking forward to taking on Macca for the first time outside of Hawaii at the Ironman distance. I was really nervous going into the second of the two Ironmans as I hadn't done much training between and I felt like I had lost a little fitness and I didn't feel as sharp as I did before Langkawi. I didn't know how my day was going to pan out.

My day started well as I moved straight to the lead in the swim. After 950m we exited the water and began the second lap. It was pure chaos! From the time I jumped in for the second loop I was swimming through and over the top of poor age group athletes (sorry!) I established a 90 second lead on the next guy and around 2.5 minutes on Chris McCormack, the man I was most concerned about.

The wind was howling on the bike and we faced a server headwind and then crosswind over the first 45km. I was getting reports I was gaining time on Macca and Marcus Fuchbach which gave me confidence to push harder on the way back to town. Wen we turned at 90km I had around 6 minutes on them and was hoping I could maybe gain another 4 over the next 90km. At around 120km I got word that Macca had pulled out of the race and Fuchbach was dropping further behind and I was able to conserve some energy over the last 60km. By now the temperature was beginning to rise and I was definitely happy to get off the bike!

I knew we were in for a tough one when I started the run into the blast furnace headwind for the first 5km. I had a 12 minute lead starting the marathon on Jozsef Major of Hungary. Jozsef is known for his fast run splits and I knew no lead was safe as long as he was behind me. After the initial 5km slog to the first turn I was happy to be running with the wind for the next 10km. The problem was having no wind in your face made it boiling hot! I managed to build up a 13 minute buffer on Jozsef as I start the second lap but I felt like I was going up and down on the spot slogging back into the headwind. I turned at 30km and was expecting to see my lead dramatically reduced but I still maintained about 12 minutes. As soon as I crossed paths with Jozsef I fell in an absolute heap! I was ticking over really well and then all of a sudden I was on the verge of bonking. With a bit over 8km to go I got a slight cramp in my hammy and I had to walk for about 50m. Walking was going to kill my lead and I had to try and get to the next aid station and down some fluid, salt and coke. I spent about 1 minute there regathering myself. I had lead from the gun, I wasn't going to loose this in the last few kilometers again, like I did at Ironman Louisville last year. Luckily I got back into a shuffle, the kilometers started ticking by and I was finally within reach of the line. I finished in 8:41:15 leading from start to finish. It was also a new Ironman China course record. Unfortunately within a few minutes once the adrenaline had worn off I started to go downhill and ultimately ended up on an IV drip!

I was extremely happy to win my fourth and what I regard as my toughest Ironman title. I am now looking forward to some downtime in Bali for 5 days before Amanda and I return to Australia and start to prepare for the American and European season.

Congratulations to everyone that finished the race in China. These Asian races may not be fast but they are definitely some of the hardest you will find anywhere in the world. You often feel like you are just racing your head rather than any other competitors. It comes down to mentally breaking through the pain barrier which I think makes crossing the line just a little bit sweeter.

1. Luke McKenzie 8:41:15
2. Jozsef Major 8:52:29
3. Jens Groenbek 9:17:06
4. Shingo Tani 9:19:01
5. Mike SCHIFFERLE 9:30:16
6. Eneko Elosegui 9:31:46
7. Justin Granger 9:41:45
8. Hiroyuki Nishiuchi 9:43:57
9. Brandon Marsh 9:52:00
10. David Bentley 9:52:51

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