Monday, May 31, 2010

Luke drops us a note on his IM Brazil win

Luke dropped his a line about his 5th IM win in Brazil, and in record time no less!

Wow ... what a day! As an athlete you are constantly in search of that perfect race. I am a firm believer that no race will ever go perfectly but yesterday I felt like I almost got it.

Ironman Brazil is a mass start and we were told we would have a 10m gap between the professionals and the amateurs but by the time the horn sounded it was pure mayhem. I got off to a good start and hit the lead straight away. Swimming a little off course on the return to the beach the first time, I exited the water with two other swimmers right on my heels but as we ran the 100m beach section to begin lap two I was alone again in the lead, and I began to pull away.

I was first out the water in 42.27 with a handy 3 minute lead on the group behind including Reinaldo Colucci, Eduardo Sturla, Oscar Galindez and Ezequiel Morales. I rode at a good pace over the first 40km and saw that the group hadn't eaten much into my lead, so I kept my head down and worked on staying ahead. At the 90km turn-a-round Sturla was leading the group and they had my lead down to about 2 minutes but I was still determined to push on solo and make them work to catch me. On the second lap the group behind me began to split which worked to my advantage and now only Sturla and Galindez were within striking distance. I actually gained some time in the last 40km and finished the bike with a 4 minute gap. My bike split was a career best for me in 4 hrs 26 mins 50 seconds.

Now the real race would begin. I knew both Sturla and Galindez are good runners and I had to nail one of my best marathons to ensure I held them off if I wanted to win. Galindez charged at me hard in the first 10km and at one stage he was about one minute behind me but after the one tough hilly section of the course I was able to stretch it back to 2 minutes. From that point I continued to build my lead on my pursuers having a good 7 minute lead at 30km. The order behind me had changed somewhat and now Ezequiel Morales who is a phenomenal runner was beginning to gain on me. With 5km to go I could see he was at about 6 minutes back and I knew I had the win.

At the 3km to go marker my Brazilian friend Rodriego came up to me on a bike and told me to keep pushing because I was on pace to break the 8 year old course record of 8.11. The last 2 km was lined with crazy spectators and the adrenaline kicked in and I pushed hard to the finish line. I broke the course record and clocked a career best time of 8 hrs 7 minutes 39 seconds.

It was seriously the best experience of my life. I have won races all around the world but yesterdays race was something I will treasure forever. The Brazilian people are amazing spectators and made the win even more special. Thanks Florianopolis and thank you Brazil!

I am looking forward to a week off training and some fun in Rio before we head to Europe for next weeks training camp in Sardinia. I have made the decision to make some slight changes to my racing schedule leading into Hawaii. I am now purely focusing on a top result there so the plan will be to select a few Ironman 70.3's and Olympic distance races in July and August in the USA and save the Ironman legs for October.

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