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Race Report: IRONMAN Vichy (France) - Paul Haig - 2017

Race Report: IRONMAN Vichy (France) - Paul Haig - 2017

Pre Event

Now I am beginning to realise that running 45 marathons (1 every week) for 45 weeks before may not be the best preparation!

What I have learned so far:
  • Training in the week was a NO NO if I was to finish the task.
  • Running with others is fantastic - whatever the pace they do.
  • People are really interesting and amazingly supportive.
  • The UK has some wonderful scenery.
  • Off road running is so much better than road running.
  • Loops are fine (a 108 lap track marathon was actually fun and I didn’t get lost) (Denz)
  • I know every crack on a Bridge on the Thames (Rik)
  • Race Directors are awesome (Andy, Denz, Rik)
  • People are very generous and charitable (So far over £4k raised for Joining Jack - Jack has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.)
  • Men of a certain age should not have long hair.
  • Almost Athletes is a great club with an awesome name.
  • You will not lose weight if you eat 20 packets of Red Doritos and consume 20 litres of Irn Bru every week. These are not recovery fuels.
  • I can run 4.5 hours on Tailwind Nutrition drink alone.
  • Salt tablets are good.
  • Yoga is good
  • Massage hurt (Shannon)

So, now it time to push on. The Ironman is going to bring some real challenges. I am excited and nervous. The course is reasonably flat so they say but if they measure it in Dorset miles and elevation it will be about 1,000 miles and be half the height of Everest. It's meant to be hot and that brings the additional challenge of correct nutrition. This is always a tough one along with what clothing to wear on all disciplines. In fact this is the biggest issue for me. It will probably be a non wetsuit swim which doesn’t help my poor swimming but the Lake has fish in case I am hungry.

Race Day 

I had hoped that the water temperature would be below 24 degrees so I could wear a wetsuit. This would drop my swim time by 15 minutes but temperatures were 36 degrees in the preceding days so it was a non-wetsuit swim. 

The Swim

The swim was 2 laps and at halfway I was around 45 mins and feeling fine. I preloaded my nutrition with a bottle of Tailwind and a Clif Bloks. However, at 500m to go, a safety boat dropped diesel into the water next to me. I know you shouldn’t swallow water but it's hell of a lot better than diesel. Within a few meters I had to stop and was sick.

Getting sick is fine but while swimming it certainly isn’t. I was sick a few more times and had to resort to gentle breaststroke. 

Swim Time: 1:43:29

The Bike

I took a leisurely transition to set myself straight and started onto the bike. For the first 2 hours the weather was cloudy although the temperatures were climbing steadily. I rode within my HR of 135 max for the 1st lap, passing plenty of riders and ensuring I stayed within the limits. This was challenging as I love smashing it on the bike but knew it would pay dividends later. I had two 750 ml bottles or Tailwind on the bike and 4 SaltStick tablets as the temperature was now in the 30’s.

Nutrition was gels and more Clif Bloks. I stopped at the halfway mark where I picked up my special requirements bag but couldn’t face anything solid. Maybe it was the heat that made me keep away from solid foods.

The course was 2 laps - fast and flat. It went through some lovely French villages and the roads were great. Support was sparse but the aid stations were great and well stocked.

Bike time: 5:39:32

The Run

Onto the run (4 laps) and I started by changing into new socks, running socks and vest.  I felt good at the start and deliberately held back from pushing to hard. The heat was in the mid 30’s and I took advantage of the showers every 2 km at the aid stations. I continued to take on gels and water.

My pace was consistent but by the mid way on lap 3 I started to feel sick. I had been taking salt tablets regularly and at the start of lap 4 I went to take another SaltStick tablet and have some Irn Bru. Try as I might I couldn’t take a salt tablet. Lap 4 was the sick lap - 6 times in total but I managed to get going again and didn’t walk apart from the aid stations but that was the plan. The issue was I couldn’t drink for the last 10k when I still needed nutrition and fluid.

Run Time:  5:06:58


I was really happy with the overall time although the last lap wasn’t very pleasant. After the finish I collected my day bag, bike, run and bike bag and then checked out.

I got about 10 feet into the general meeting area where I met Kath and suddenly felt really sick so dropped onto all 4’s to get some air in. This went on for 20 mins before Kath decided to get a medic.

He was a really eager medic who popped me into a wheelchair and decided to see how many tricks he could perform. Into the MASH tent and after a detailed check up I was popped on a drip for 40 mins. The MASH tent was pretty busy but after the trip I felt a lot better. I even managed to drive back to the campsite.

Finish Time:  12:47:14


Next day I was back swimming in the beautiful Lake Annecy. When I finished the race I swore never again...

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