Thursday, 25 April 2013

ironman south africa & other related things

It's been toooo long since i've updated this Blog,  I know!!
However, my latest ironman  race report can be found on my website

The plan for this season is to try really, really hard and qualify for Kona this year. The new Kona Points Ranking system that WTC have introduced for professionals racing Ironman has changed the way that the qualification process works for the elites in our sport; it's more significant for some, than others.

To be fair, the previous system made it really too easy for professionals (especially the women, due to the relatively low number of pro females on the circuit at the time) to get to the World Champs - the proof of that being that a 3rd place at IM UK - a great event, but a late season race who's low prize fund attracts few "top tier"athletes - earned me a slot in 2010. So, aside from criticisms of the new system "forcing" athletes to race more, and specifically to race more M-dot events, the ranking system is unlikely to effect those top tier athletes likelihood of qualifying....but makes it a whole lot harder for those of us found hovering on the edge of the podium. If I have to race 5 ironman in a year, as my history shows that's no big deal to me - I love racing, travelling and all that goes with it - but to earn sufficient points for a shot at a race on the Big Island I have to have 5 good days to clock up enough points to make the top 35. I also have to pick my races - and in previous 2 years of this new system, I took little notice of this and raced the races that I like to race and could get to easily and cheaply. Just so happens that those such races carry very low KPR tariff - to the extent that a WIN at UK, Lanza or Wales does less for one's ranking than a 7th place finish at one of the bigger races (in Europe or US).

 Lets' assume that it's a deliberate move toward creating a set of  "non qualification" events  and "tiers" within the pro field....it works. Though I feel it harms these races if they cannot attract the attention of the Kona-focused Ironman community it terms of sponsorship and support. Ironman South Africa was a great example of how fantastic an event can be with solid backing from the local borough and corporate sponsorship. Ironman UK sadly is an example on the other end of the spectrum: the UK events team are top notch, but just don't seem to have the level of support they need.

I certainly wont assume to know all the details and considerations involved in the system, so I'll reel myself in from that tangent.....and get back to how it's relevant to my season's race plans.

Ironman Wales ( last September) was a good race for me and was one of the first opportunities for Pros to earn points towards the 2103 World Champs. Unfortunately, despite being a low tariff race my podium finish earned me a reasonable number of KPR points and a good boost of confidence to take to Ironman WA.
Ironman Western Australia carries twice the number of points as Wales, and with a 6-weeks camp in Perth prior to the race I had great preparation in the run up. Things went a bit pear-shaped in the last 10 days before the race, screwing up my "taper" and that combined with maybe a bit too much load in general through the year resulted in an on-course burn out. Still - I finished and actually collected more points than I had at Wales.

I took winter off to fully recover and get over 2012...before begging preparations for Ironman SA in April. As a P2000 event, like Bussleton, this was another chance to score some good points. Training has been going well since picking it back up in 2013, and I was optimistic about this one. As you'll read in the race report - it was another disappointing finish  -10th place! - thus my plane ticket comes out of savings,  and I earn fewer points than i would have liked. Still more than Wales though!

So, 3 races down and 2 left. A look at the ranking table today shows i'm still in the game - but very much border line. Which of course I realised from the start. Ironman Frankfurt in July is a p4000 race  -that means it carries double the points of WA or SA and 4 times that of Wales! So a good race there should seal it for me...and i have some exciting plans for a few tweaks to my training, which starts from monday! My family are booking accomodation in Kona, so the pressure really is ON ;o)



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