I think it would be appropriate to start this little race report with a warning! Late night browsing of Ironman races is not always a good idea! I had decided to join Pia and do a repeat of IM Copenhagen and then got the bright idea to try and do two races in about a month, because......well why not.

Arriving in the Emerald Isle, for a sand monkey like me is always amazing, it is green, not just green but amazingly green. The people are awesome, but a lot more on that later.

All the triathlon bits went off without a glitch minus a bent from axle which is a tip for all my fellow Tri Travelers, DONT USE YOUR BIKE SKEWERS FOR THE BIKE BOX! Buy some cheap ones and use them, the fragile stickers on your bike box is just for decoration!

Youghal, which i was quickly taught is pronounced Y’all is beautiful, stunning coastline, beautifully historic buildings and a ton of stuff to see.

Ended up in a b&b very close to race village and the atmosphere in town was amazing, posters everywhere, every single shop from the grocer to the pharmacy, the church to the music school was supporting.

I was living the dream!!! And then came race morning! To say it’s cold would be to call Daniella Ryf a triathlete, yes it’s true but there is just so much more to it! It just seemed that no matter what I put on I just did not get warm. The night before we had already gotten an email saying that due to temperature difference between the water at that stage between 11 and 13 degrees and the outside also between 9 and 12 depending on who you asked as everyone had an opinion! At this point in time I was disappointed, I figured yes it’s cold but so what? I like the swim and spent two mornings putting my face in that water for practice swims, I am ready!!! I hope you are getting the picture and starting to feel that a big deflation is coming soon!

The call came from IM to cancel the swim, and to be fair, watching the lifeguards on paddle boards trying to stay on top of them it would have been a nightmare to make that swim safe, so it was the right call.

Anyway, moving on, now what? So the announcement would take us into transition tent one bike rack at a time and you got to change into cycling gear, for me this was the usual trisuit, a waterproof cycling jersey, some gloves and a dash of lipstick! To make a VERY long story short it took about another 40 min from that point to actually start. Isn’t this jersey supposed to waterproof?

The bike starts pretty well, but I realize very quickly that my lipstick is the wrong shade of blue!

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It is freezing! The rain is being driven into your face and it actually feels like small stones, my sunglasses are misting up but I can’t take them off as I then can’t open my eyes.

Oh how I miss Al Qudra! The road surface is rough, I mean like hang onto the bike for dear life kinda rough! I now also have a new game to play which is dodge the bike bits, bottles, hydration systems, spares kits, tubes and even a Garmin.

The last quarter of the bike loop is tough, it it does what it said on the box and you just have to grind away at it, but the wind is still somehow always in your face and I come to the grand conclusion, this is going to be a long day!

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Now I mentioned earlier about the people, at every driveway you pass there are people standing and cheering and supporting and as you get closer to town they just get more and louder! And then there it is, Windmill Hill or as the locals dubbed it Windmill Hell! 430m of 21% gradient lined with shouting cheering and clanging awesomeness! You take that in for all of 1 second and then you lungs start screaming, your legs want to collapse and your heart rate goes ballistic!

Finally at the top of WH and you immediately start thinking about how the hell you will get up there a second time! Start doing some meth, sorry typo, that meant to say math!

In loop one I didn’t manage to eat anything, as I could not get the wrappers on the protein bars open, so at the first aid station on loop two I do a quick stop and ask the nice lady there to open them for me and I eat a handful of them, this will be added later to the list of mistakes!

Without sounding like a stuck record, loop two is just more of the same on much more tired legs. This time I decided that Windmill He’ll is better done halfway and then walking the bike up, not so good for the ego but save the legs, not that there was much to save at this point.

T2!!! I am still alive!

I now get to one of the most interesting experiences of my life, I am in T2 and I can’t get my trisuit off, I am shaking, my hands are numb and I have bad enough brain fuzz that I don’t ask for help, so I basically just sit there. A few minutes pass and I finally manage to get moving again, everything off. More or less dry, dry clothes and start moving out of T2. But I am still shaking. I find heaven! A small tent with a heater in it, it’s a sauna!

I figure at this stage that I will not get far as I am shaking and it is bucketing down with rain. So 10 min in the tent and then let’s see what happens.

I stop shaking, and now I have to get my head sorted, I remember my trisuit, which is now a puddle of frozen water says “Always with Rio” on it. I kick open the front door and march out! New layer of blue lipstick is instantly applied and I am off! I very cheekily tell some dude there that this marathon is not going to run itself!

So much for dry clothes, it takes about 20 min and I am soaked again! New plan! I ask a volunteer and she helps me get a garbage bag, holes for a head and arms, strapped down with a race belt and I am moving again and warming up slowly.

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To put it mildly, I am broken! First 10k was ok, second ten livable and the it all just went south. Stomach cramps, I warned you about the list of mistakes, my tummy was not happy at this point. Next was a strategy of walking the hills, run the downhills and walk/run the flat bits! Oh and Ironman, flat run? REALLY?

But now to tell you about the best part, the support! What awesome people, yes likely they are used to the weather but regardless, they had been out all day. All the supporters from Windmill Hell was now out in the run connected to some kind of a pub and the cheering both in volume and severity doubled on each lap! Ireland 🇮🇪 you are awesome!

Dewald Olivier from South Africa, you are an Ironman. Yes it gets better every time you hear it!

Thank you! Rio, little man you have no idea how many times the though of you kept me going, there were very very dark times and a lot of them it conquered telling myself I can’t let Rio down! Thank you! All the TAW pack! Somehow in my head I was reading all your messages long before I got to the finish line! You guys are epic! Thank you! Hassan and TriDubai its always amazing to see the support and the genuine interest!

Lessons learned, I could say a lot here about gear ratios, waterproof gear and blah blah blah, it all comes down to having a good reason to do it! On the day I only JUST managed to find that in a very special little boy and an amazing bunch of friends! Love you all! Thanks 🙏🏻

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Dewald Olivier
June 25th , 2019

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