Kona 2016

October 20th, 2016 by

…and that’s 2016 done. It feels strange because normally I get to this part of the season and I’m completely dead and purely hanging for my break but this time we really paced the season well under the guidance of Luc Van Lierde and I got to World Champs feeling relatively fresh and pretty motivated but it didn’t quite work out this time.

Coming off Copenhagen I was definitely riding high. I was super happy with my 2nd place and sub 8hr performance and getting my qualification sorted for World Champs in Kona. I also knew that we had gone into that race at 85% giving us room to move up to 100% for Kona. We did a bit of training post race in Copenhagen to aid recovery as we didn’t have time on our side preparing for Kona. I had two blocks planned, one in Lanzarote and then I travelled to San Diego to spend time with Juliano Truel, team mate Ronnie and Fabio to finish my last preparations.

Both blocks went quite well considering and I had high hopes for the race. I didn’t focus too much on how I felt, I just tried to do everything on the plan to the best of my ability. I needed the work in the legs. There were complications though, I got sick directly after Copenhagen, but not really sick. Just athlete sick… which was enough for my energy to be a little too low at times and carry a cough right the way through to race day in Kona. After every Ironman I’ve finished so far I’ve picked up something afterwards, if you look at Ironman on paper, it’s not surprising really. It’s a pretty mental day out.


For most people racing 4 Ironman races in one year sets off alarm bells but I had no choice. Kona is the pinnacle of the sport, of course it would have been nice to have been able to take an easier path to arrive in Hawaii but in the end we had to qualify for Kona even if it meant that I’d be a little over cooked. I wanted to experience this iconic race and get experience about what’s required to be successful here but also it was very important for my team BMC Etixx for me to be there as we launched our new bike this year and this is essentially the biggest trade show we have in our sport!


Race day finally came round after a nice week in Hawaii and I wasn’t good from the beginning.  I had a bad swim and lost the group at the first buoy and the front guys put quite a bit of time into us.  On the bike I was still in the game for a top result but only just and as soon as I started peddling I realised that I didn’t have power in the legs. I rode with a big group of around 20 riders but the pace was very up and down and it caused a concertina effect in the group and it was very hard to keep the distance steady at 10 meters gap and at one point everyone sat up and I drifted to 8m’s and that was it, I got carded and given a 5min penalty. Game over…


I knew I was screwed from the beginning so I wasn’t actually too pissed about my penalty, when I got to the sin bin 9 people had already visited which shows that the Rambo the ref was on a true rampage. I got out about 30 seconds after Bertrand Billard and Callum Milward. I worked hard to catch these guys so I had at least some company and then we rode together till the turn around. On the way home our group of 5 started to get stretched again and with 50k to go I had to let them go and then I just grovelled to the finish line working hard with what I had left in the legs.

When my feet hit the transition after 50mins swimming and close to 5hrs riding my legs felt horrendous. Like not being able to even run 10k easy horrendous. However once I put on my shoes I started to feel a bit lighter in the legs and I ran out reasonably well. The crowds are fantastic for the first 2k through town and it was a good buzz but then it fizzles out and you’re on your own. Any chance of a top 15 was out of the question now. I was pretty disappointed so my ambition was now very low.  I caught up with Joe Skipper who was also struggling and we ran together for the first 6k (actually quite well) before I had to take a toilet stop and from then it all went south again. I had about a 6k stretch where I stopped and walked and jogged again and my main ambition was to make it back to town to pack up and go home. I decided I’d run to where Clare was standing and then I’d stop and we’d walk home together.



2016 Ironman World Championship

2016 Ironman World Championship

I finally saw Clare at around 16k and was really excited to finally sit down and go get a Burger King. She saw me coming and ran up to me and generally told me what I really didn’t want to hear. “You are going to finish this!”, “Common you are not going to pull out”, “don’t be a pussy” and Clare is a very enthusiastic supporter so imagine this at full volume! I sat down and rejected her efforts but I had rested in the wrong place and the aid station volunteers were onto me hard! The encouragement amazing, they also shouted at me, “You got this!”, “Just keep going”! I got about 5kg of ice poured over me, about 8 cups of coke placed in front of me, offered around 6 bananas, gels and bars – not forgetting the pretzels. After 5mins of that I realised what Ironman is about. It’s about finding a way to get round, doing whatever it takes, never giving up on the journey. Not just about the top 10, prize money, points, contracts…

2016 Ironman World Championship

2016 Ironman World Championship

16 miles when you’re completely dead mentally and physically out and back along a highway was a hell of a chunk to bite off but I made a decision that I was going to finish today and fortunately when I got around the first corner Joe was about 5 seconds away from getting a car and going home himself so I grabbed him and we made a verbal contract and decided that we’d get round together running the whole way but walking every aid stations and that is my advice to anyone who is struggling to finish an Ironman.


Breaking it down like that worked wonders and finally Joe and I got to get our moneys worth and cross that iconic finish line! I’m really proud that we decided to take the difficult option. Like every Age Grouper on the course does! Congrats to everyone that finished!

So much appreciation for Clare and my the rest of my family for their endless support, my friends and fans, my amazing and loyal team BMC Etixx and other sponsors, coach Luc Van Lierde and the rest of my support team I’ve worked with. I learnt a lot to come back with next year to attack Kona again properly.

Congrats to Jan Frodeno and Daniela Ryf for their wins, Seb Kienle for his podium and my close friend Patrick Lange for his amazing 3rd place and Kona run record of 2:39! I hope I can challenge you guys one day soon!





The Kona Qualifying binge

August 23rd, 2016 by

2nd Ironman Copenhagen – Sub 8hrs – Kona Q 

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - AUGUST 21: Will Clarke of Britain finishes second at Ironman Copenhagen on August 21, 2016 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images for Ironman)

That’s what I call a great weekend!

We started this year with a goal to Qualify for Kona and THEN do a good job in Kona. The nature of Ironman is that often these plans don’t quite work out and after starting the year with zero points carried over it’s no joke to qualify for Kona. I had a terrible race in Ironman Brazil despite being in pretty good shape actually, so that meant I had some catching up to do! Frankfurt went great as you’ll read in my earlier blogs there was 2000 points right there but still not enough. Then we made a plan to do 3 races in 7 weeks on a points hunt binge! Budapest 70.3 (small points but still something…) Wiesbaden 70.3 (big points) and Ironman Copenhagen (big points).

Hill climb Budapest

Budapest didn’t go well, the whole weekend didn’t go well. I crashed my bike on a wet ride before the race and hurt myself. Which meant I had a terrible swim, I used all my energy on the bike to catch back up and died in the heat on the run. It was one to forget about and move on. 

I was feeling much better going into the next two, training didn’t go very well actually because of my Budapest crash but I was feeling quite fit considering. Wiesbaden was up next which is the Ironman 70.3 European Champs and it went much better, I went into the race very refreshed and relaxed with my homestay host Stefan. Thanks man! I finished 9th but man it was a hard race. The level of the athletes was so incredibly high, I swam quite well, pushed my best ever Watts on the bike and held it together on the run (just). It only won me 300 points though which isn’t that helpful to my overall score and much worse I totally levelled myself so I was nervous about what would happen to me in an Ironman 7 days later! 

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 22.43.42

I didn’t go home between Germany and Copenhagen so I could save myself a flight so I drove down the road and stayed with my buddy, Patrick Lange. He’s famous now for his win in the North American Champs and don’t we know it!!! I had an amazing few days staying with him in his home town. We ate our body weight in Schnitzels, Apfel Strudels and Cappuccinos, generally lounged around in Normatec boots and had a good old gossip. I loved training in Darmstadt, perfect place with quiet roads, a swim squad every evening and running…well I didn’t do any really! Thanks Patrick and Laura for letting me stay. 


Pressure was on for Copenhagen. Our team director Bob De Wolf came out for this important occasion as this is the last day possible to qualify for Kona, and I was on a podium or bust scenario! We spent the days before trying to drive the course, eating pasta and danish pastries and doing the general Ironman admin which is always a laugh…NOT! Anyway, eventually race day came round and I was feeling ready as I could be. 

My swim was spot on finally, after struggling for a while in the water in training and racing, I was able to sit on the leaders feet till the end as the pace started pretty easy and gradually wound up faster and faster. I got onto the bike in joint first with Igor Amorelli with a 47mid swim time. I managed to avoid the hundreds of jelly fish we passed and also luckily I didn’t go head on with all the age groupers swimming off course! 

We jammed the first part of the bike as I could see that we had a small gap the other strong guys but once we got out of town I realised we were not hurting anyone apart from ourselves so I settled into the line with the other 6 guys. (Raelert, Carvallo, Neilsson and Casedi) The pace was quite high for me, I was above 310w for a bit too long for my liking but I stayed with it hoping it would calm down. It didn’t unfortunately and I knew if I carried on at this pace I wouldn’t be running fast today! So after 60k I made a conscious decision to leave some cheeky gaps hoping to end up with a smaller group of like minded athletes to ride with. 4 of the guys drifted off the front and I ended up working with Alberto Casedi, my mate from the ITU days. The pace was much more ‘me’ and we took 5k turns each trying to get from A-B as fast as possible. With 30k to go I lost my buddy and went it alone as I started to feel pretty strong again. I finished with a 4hr25 bike split which is a nice 6mins PB I think. 

I got onto the run in 5th with a 8mins gap to the leader and 5mins to 4th place. Work to do thats for sure against some very classy athletes (3 of them have won many Ironman race between them).  I had paced the bike very well and I was confident that I was going to have fast legs. It’s funny, you have around 40,000 steps to make to get round the marathon but you just know the moment your feet hit the ground after 4.5hrs hard on the bike how your legs are going to feel on the run. I always say a prayer in those last 2k of the bike!!! 

Thankfully god answered my prayers and I had good legs! I set off chasing way too hard. My target is best case scenario around 3:50p/k pace, that gets you in around 2hr40 but I was going 3:30 pace for the first 5k. I had to tell myself to mature a little bit and slow it down to maximum 3:50! I caught a lot of time in the first lap and after 12k I passed Igor Amorelli. Then it was time to try to hunt for the podium. I kept pushing on and got through 1/2 marathon in 2:18 I was gaining all the time and sure enough at 25k I went past Fabio Carvallo. I was stoked to finally be in the podium hunt and to my surprise Bob De Wolf said Andreas is just 1minute ahead! That was when I ran my fastest with excitement! I went back up to 3:30 pace and caught Andreas nice and quickly! 

finish copenhagen Till

At 30k I heard Till Schenk the announcer say to the crowd that I was on target for a sub 8hr performance. That’s been a goal of mine since I started Ironman, as it’s quite an special club! I was still under 2:39 marathon pace at 30k but I was starting to get very tired! I slowed down to around 4mins+ pace and tried to maintain, I was getting very flat, I was spending longer in aid stations cooling off and getting my nutrition down and generally shutting it down to stop the agony but I always had a sub 8 finish in the back of my mind. What if I just pushed on for ‘another’ 20mins or so?! Towards the end, all records were out the window, I just didn’t care any more and just wanted to get to the finish and lie down but with 1k to go I could sense Till getting excited, the music was pumping and the incredible crowd were amped up so I went all out just in case I was onto something! I got onto the carpet with 7hr59m10s on the clock and the feeling I’ll never forget. Massive congrats to Patrik Nilsson for his win and 7th fastest Ironman ever I think! 

Bob and me

Ironman is truly an incredible experience. You put in so much hard work and make so many sacrifices, you race on your limit 8hrs, against intense competition, as a professional you’ve got a job on the line and a family to feed. When you finally hit that finish straight it’s got to be one of the best feelings in the World. 

Massive thanks as always to my family who support me no matter what the result, my friends, my amazing team who have got my to this level, BMC Etixx Pro Triathlon Team Powered by Uplace with Bob and Ben De Wolf every supportive. The man with the plan Luc Van Lierde, Rudy Heylen for keeping the mental side strong. Social media has been nuts and I’ve loved it, thanks for the messages.

Can’t wait to get to Kona and try to have my best ever Ironman performance there.

Budapest Fail

August 1st, 2016 by

Bike Tunnel

I’m on a mission right now and that is to get myself a place on the start line for Ironman World Championships in Kona. The biggest show that long course Triathlon has to offer, It’s important for me and BMC Etixx Pro Triathlon Team to get there and honestly I’d like to be able to do something great as well! It’s not that easy though, especially when you start the year on the back foot. Many of the top athletes cruise the selection process because they grab heaps of points from Hawaii the year before and also some late season racing after that. However I started the year from zero so it’s quite difficult to catch up. Obviously if you mess up your first Ironman you have to overcome the mental and physical fatigue and you have to get yourself back in shape after tapering and recovering so you waste a fair bit of time if it goes south first time up.

Hill climb Budapest

I gave myself a good boost with my 5th place performance in Frankfurt, I took 2000 points for that which gives me 2300 from two races so far. I ‘just’ need another ~1300 ish to finish the job.

I’ve planned a bit of a racing binge, starting with a very low points race in Budapest, two weeks later in Wiesbaden and then 1 week later in Copenhagen. The latter two have 3 x and 4x as many points as Budapest making them the crucial ones, so luckily Budapest was actually a bit insignificant, actually more of a little top up.

Recovery from Ironman Frankfurt went really well, I was feeling strong in training just a week or so after the race so I was pretty positive for Budapest 70.3 and motivated!


Swim start

Race week had different plans for me though. I did one of my best swim sessions I’ve done for years in the pool but pulled up with a sore neck as a result of it. Then I checked into this really crappy hotel in Budapest before the race that my coached athlete organised (next time I choose Ohad!) and on the sketchiest training ride I’ve ever done I stacked it on wet tram tracks and messed up my bike and made myself even more sore! I just don’t like being in these big city locations, not for me!

To be fair I got it all sorted eventually and I didn’t even feel particularly sore on race day but I was never quite on it, I got pumped in the swim, I chased hard on the bike in very hot weather and actually I rode quite well but tactically I was well out of it by the time I caught back up. I still had a chance for a podium if I had run like normal but I felt very hot and very dead from the start so after 7k I pulled the pin and jogged home. I did however beat Alexander Vinkourov’s bike split which is a bonus.


It sucks to pull out but I know it’s the right decision, as you can see I’ve got some serious racing ahead of me and I’ve GOT to be fresh for that. 20 points and a heap of fatigue is not going to get me to Kona!

I’ll keep you updated on my progress!

Thanks for the amazing pictures Darren Wheeler.