Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bockel rebounds at St Croix 70.3

At St Croix 70.3, just gone, Dirk Bockel made his move on the 70.3 world circuit.
Although not having the running legs he'd hoped for, Dirk lead out of the water and took it to them on the bike.

It was a scorching 31 degrees in St. Croix , when Dirk Bockel went on to face tough competition at his first Half Ironman of the season.

His old rival from Ironman New Zealand, Mr. Cameron Brown, pulled out of the race before it began, but there were plenty of other competitors to contend with, including multiple Ironman and Half Ironman winners Richie Cunningham (AUS), Timothy O’Donald (USA) and Bryan Rhodes (NZL).

The 2 km swim took place in a relatively calm Christainsted Harbor, with Dirk taking the lead from the first buoy. He remained in the first position until the end of the swim, when he came out of the water first, taking the swim prime and setting a new swim course record of 24 minutes.

A group of 6 men (including Bockel, Cunningham, Rhodes, Hayes, Amorelli, & O’Donald) took off out of transition together. They stayed together throughout the course of the 90 km bike, and despite a multiple efforts to breakaway from this pack, Dirk decided to stay with them. “I created a gap [from the main pack] on several occasions. Once with Richie [Cuningham] and Igor Amorelli, and another time I went with Rhodesy [Bryan Rhodes]. The chase pack closed the gap after some time so I was unable to gain a substantial lead on the bike. As my running form is not exactly perfect due to my foot injury, I knew I needed to focus on the swim & bike a bit more this time. The bike course is one of the most difficult ones that exist--so I tried to make it even harder for the guys that run well by attacking on the bike and pushing the tempo.”

Just as he demonstrated at his Olympic performance in Beijing last August, and his Ironman debut in March of this year, Dirk was the first out of Transition 2, leading the run straight off the bike. The run started out at a comfortable speed and Dirk eventually settled in with a group of 5 athletes.

The sun was beating down on the men as they pounded through the 21 km hilly running course. After 10 km, they started to spread out a bit more, with Timothy O’Donald taking the lead. O’Donald went on to win the race (also setting a course record), Amorelli took 2nd, Cunningham 3rd, and Dirk Bockel finished 4th. “I really wanted to make a podium, but there was nothing else left in the tank. The conditions were brutal. I could have gone faster on the bike but wanted to save up a bit for the run. I actually had a great run, considering my previous injury and the small amount of running that I have done this season. My foot injury did not bother me at all during the running, but I did develop some very intense blistering that covered the entirety of my foot and ankles. This is just a part of long distance racing that I am not really used to yet--and I am certainly going to be wearing socks at my next race!”

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