Ironman Wales race tips
Are you racing in Tenby this weekend? Make sure you’re prepared for what is renowned as one of the hardest Ironman courses on the circuit, set on the stunning Welsh coast.
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Don’t let that dull your appetite though, says 2013 winner Scott Neyedli: “The support and race atmosphere the Tenby locals create is one of the best I’ve experienced worldwide.”
“I would advise anyone to get a practice swim as organised by the Ironman team and drive or cycle parts or whole run/bike loops,” adds Neyedli. “This will help with noting the hard section and also landmarks which will help on race day to break the race up into smaller segments, so nothing unexpected will be presented. Otherwise the swim shouldn’t be too hard, it might be a little cold but it is protected from any big swells.”
“The swim is two loops with an ‘Australian exit’ [exiting and re-entering the water – ed.],” says Neyedli. “So when exiting the water I suggest to most athletes to jog the beach easily before they start the swim second loop to save a shock lactic attack in the arms as they begin the second loop.”
2013 women’s winner Lucy Gossage adds: “The swim can be quite rough, so don’t panic and try and get yourself into a rhythm.”
The bonus for the age-group swim is that it starts at first light, 7am, says Neyedli. “So I would suggest trying to find a spot relative to your ability – if you are a strong swimmer get to the front of line so you have a good chance to swim into open space and avoid the bun fight. Likewise if you know you are a weak swimmer let the race begin and wait until you know you would be comfortable to having an incident-free swim.
“As the swim is at the crack of dawn I would suggest using reactor or orange polarized goggles,” he adds. “The sun could be low if clear but can be dark if overcast so don’t use tinted goggles.”
Gossage says: “The run up the hill from the beach is really tough but is one of the highlights of the race so instead of thinking about the pain, try to focus on the cheers and support and enjoy it, it will go much quicker – and remember to take a second pair of shoes to run up the beach to T1!”
“T1 is epic!” says Neyedli. “From the beach, run up the cliff zigzags then it is a 1km run though the town centre to collect the bikes.”
On to the bike, and Gossage advises: “Hold back on the first lap, particularly on the hills, some of them will take their toll later in the race so it is much better to ride the first lap easy and the second lap hard. Enjoy the support because it is incredible, and eat more on the bike than you usually would just because it is so hilly.”
Neyedli says: “Try to drive the whole bike course if you can. It is very technical with some really sharp corners on some of the fast descents. At the tail end of the two-loop bike course, there is some 15-25% climbs! I would choose a wheel cassette that will allow you to spin up the steep gradients, for example 11-26 or 11-28 men 12-26 or 12-28 for women.”
The run is super hilly so make sure you get your nutrition in, says Gossage. “I tend to take it at the bottom of a hill because I tend to get a stitch when running down the hill. Embrace the support: the crowds are truly amazing and if you use their cheers and shouts to keep you smiling the run will go by much quicker.”
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Neyedli says: “The run is hard, hilly and undulating! Last year it was accurately measured to the full 26.2 miles with three or four loops.
“Beginning the run I would suggest taking the hills really easy, especially on the first loop, and try keep your heart rate as low as possible uphill and coast the run down the hills. If you think you have the energy push the last lap going up the hills and go for it!”
Regarding fuelling, Neyedli says: “Stick to your nutrition you have practiced in training, remember to take most of it on the bike so that you are fuelled for the run. If you feel like you are hitting the wall then get onto the flat coke and water at the aid stations: two cups of coke followed by one cup of water.”
Lastly, Neyedli says: “Smile at the finish so you get a nice finish photo and enjoy the finish chute because it is awesome.”
Gossage adds: “Keep smiling because it really is my favourite race of all time, and if you are smiling you can’t help but have a good day!”
Are you racing in Tenby this weekend? Let us know in the comments!