Ironman 70.3 Duisburg race report + preparations

Soon I’ll write a post about last year’s season, but now it’s time to focus on triathlon season 2023! My first triathlon race of the year was the Ironman 70.3 in Duisburg, Germany. This race is just across the border from the Netherlands so easy to travel to. Due to the canceled Ironman race in Maastricht, many athletes transferred their registration to Duisburg. Many Dutch athletes but, of course, also many German athletes of which many strong and experienced triathletes.

My “full-time” training program only started in late May due to my offshore work and limited training possibilities on the vessel but I certainly ramped up the intensity and duration the moment I came home. The winter period certainly had a huge impact on my condition, endurance, and speed for swimming, cycling, and running. About three weeks before the race I felt really strong but a week later I was starting to feel very tired and exhausted. Immediately, I reduced the intensity and skipped a few training sessions to recover. This worked out well and the week before the race I felt ready for Ironman 70.3 Duisburg!

Race (long) Weekend

Ironman 70.3 Duisburg - bike check inOn Thursday morning I drove a couple of hours to Duisburg. Arriving there early afternoon, I drove the bike course (it’s an away and back route) by car to quickly explore the conditions, any tight or strange turns, and other aspects that I should remember for the race. Later in the afternoon, I had a short tempo run on the run course. The weather forecast was horrible for several weeks with pouring rain, thunder, and pretty low temperatures, but the forecast was starting to look better and better for the race day. Still, on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday there were some heavy rain storms in Duisburg.

On Friday I cycled a part of the bike course (skipped the part over the motorway) but the bike paths in Germany aren’t much fun to cycle and, of course, I couldn’t cycle on the road. In the afternoon, I registered and picked up my race pack, and checked out the transition zone, swim start/exit, and bike/run start/exit.

To loosen up the legs, on Saturday early morning an easy run with a few short sprints, again on the run course. The rest of the day I prepared all my gear and made sure everything was in tip-top condition and relaxed in the apartment until it was time to check in the bike and transition bags. Nothing exciting during the check-in, but again looked at the swim/bike/run start and exits in order not to lose time in the race.

The booked apartment was reasonably close to the event area and nowadays you can easily rent an electric scooter to travel around for a few euros. Really ideal when you want to save your legs 🙂

Race Day!

Ironman 70.3 Duisburg - Race morning sunriseSunday early morning I had my usual breakfast of quark, a lot of oats, and a little bit of fruit. And a coffee! Around 7 am I packed my last items and went to the transition zone. Checking my bike, pumped up the tires, filled up my water bottles with Nutrid Kerosine, and sorted out the blue (bike) and red (run) transition bags. All ready, handing in the white (after-race) bag and I went to the swim start area. I guessed my swim time should be around 33 minutes so I waited in the swim start pack of 30-35 minutes.

At 8 am was the start of the first athletes by the rolling start method. Every 6 seconds, 3 athletes were allowed to start. This means a long-stretched start field and less congestion in the swim and certainly on the bike course. Since the bike course is pretty flat and therefore fast, the organization tried to spread out the athletes as much as possible to prevent large drafting groups.

Swim

Ironman 70.3 Duisburg - Swim startI was in the water at 8:14 and followed the rowing regatta buoy lines to the large Ironman turning buoys, about 750m away. A short section perpendicular to the rowing lanes and then back, past the swim start, under two bridges, and to the swim exit. During the swim, I overtook quite a few athletes, still had some congestion groups but no real issues. The rowing regatta buoys made the swim actually very easy with less forward sighting needed until going past the swim start. The section under the bridges was a bit narrow but by that time the swim groups were spread out even more. Unfortunately, the moment I climbed out of the water a slight cramp in my right calf happened and I tumbled over. Climbed up again and with a bit of a sore calf I ran into the transition zone to the blue bag. The swim took me 32m24s, which is 24 seconds above my Personal Best time. Out of the 165 athletes in my group, I ranked for the swim as number 28.

Ironman 70.3 Duisburg - Bike Cervelo P3 triathlonBike

In the transition zone, I quickly got out of my Huub Varman wetsuit, put up my Kask Mistral bike helmet (mandatory to put up at the blue bag area in Germany), and ran to my bike. With my bike, I ran quite a distance to the bike mounting line. Due to the cramp, I decided not to do my regular flying mount method but just shortly stop after the mounting line, and get on my bike. During the first few minutes, the cramp went away and then it was time to ramp up the power on the bike.

The first section was through the outskirts of the center, through an industrial area with some more turns and watching out for potholes, but then we came to the longer straight sections. The bike course has 2-loops and each had one bridge and a couple of viaducts. Not many height meters to conquer but many fast sections! This bike course was certainly a fast one and I quite enjoyed it (as much as you can do when you try to push hard in a race). The section on the motorway was really fast!

Ironman 70.3 Duisburg - Bike Personal Best TimeThere were a couple of other athletes that sometimes I overtook and a few minutes later they overtook me again. I guess we were quite equal in power and speed. I hardly noticed any drafting during the whole bike ride so I guess the organization did a great job in spreading out the athletes from the beginning! There were quite a few jury motorbikes and I’m sure they watched out and corrected any athletes that were hanging on too long.

I use nutrition on the bike (and run) from Nutrid. This worked out perfectly! I had enough Nutrid Kerosine for 2.5 hrs on the bike so couldn’t lose too much time 😉 Next to the Kerosine intake every half an hour, you drink water (I add an electrolytes tablet to the water bottle) as much as you feel like. Depending on the temperature and how much you sweat you can either drink more or less water.

After 2h17m09s I arrived back at the transition zone with this time a flying dismount. The 2-loops of the bike split were balanced very well with each loop having a very similar power output, average speed, and average heart rate. The total average speed was well into the 39 km/h. Normally I rank quite high for the bike split but this only ranked me as number 19, meaning a strong athletes field!

Run

Ironman 70.3 Duisburg - Run Personal Best TimeBack in the transition zone I racked my bike quickly and ran to the red bag to change to running. A fast bike-to-run transition and the first kilometer on the run course was very fast due to the adrenaline. Then I settled down a bit for a few kilometers to check how my legs were after the bike ride. The run course is a 3-loop course with the finish in the Duisburg football stadium. Directly in the second loop, I increased the pace and started to overtake more and more athletes. Of course, there were more athletes coming onto the run course as well so it became a bit more busy at certain narrower sections. In the second loop when I had increased my pace, another Dutch athlete was running fast and we ran both close together which stimulated me to keep a high pace. The speed was around 4 minutes per kilometer.

Just like on the bike, I use Nutrid Kerosine for the run section. In a small flexible drink flask is the Nutrid and at every aid station you can take some water if you feel like it. Due to the lower temperatures, I didn’t drink any water, just the Nutrid nutrition.

In the last loop, I tried to increase the pace even more and the last kilometers of the race were very tough. I gave everything to maintain the high pace and I was very happy to make the last turn to the finish line and cross it completely exhausted. The half marathon run split was a Personal Best time with 1h27m41s (in a middle-distance triathlon). The rank for the run split was number 4! 🙂

Finish

Ironman 70.3 Duisburg - Personal Best Time middle distance triathlonI was completely exhausted crossing the finish line. My total race time was 4h23m38s, which is another Personal Best time for a middle-distance triathlon! In the end, I ranked number 8 in a strong (German) field of athletes.

After the finish, I went directly to the Massage Tent and waited until it was my turn to receive a well-deserved massage of the legs. While waiting it started to heavily rain! I’ve been so lucky because the swim started with some sunshine, even on the bike there was some sun and later overcast. The run stayed mainly dry, only in the last lap I had a bit of a drizzle! Really lucky with the weather but the athletes there were still out in the heavy rain and must have had a harder time. Cold and wet!

The whole organization of the Ironman 70.3 Duisburg was actually pretty good. The only tip I have is to organize a covered area (tent) when the weather forecast is so bad because there was no shelter in the Athletes Garden and eating/drinking something in the rain and getting quickly cold isn’t any fun! That was quite an anticlimax of the day actually…

Conclusion

AG #1

AG #2

AG #3

Lennart

Swim

 00:30:57

 00:30:17

 00:27:45

 00:32:24

dT with me

 00:01:27

 00:02:07

 00:04:39

#28 (top 17%)

Bike

 02:12:55

 02:09:10

 02:17:03

 02:17:09

dT with me

 00:04:14

 00:07:59

 00:00:06

#19 (top 12%)

Run

 01:23:50

 01:30:01

 01:25:30

 01:27:41

dT with me

 00:03:51

 -00:02:20

 00:02:11

#4 (top 2%)

Total

 04:14:15

 04:16:27

 04:18:38

 04:23:38

dT with me

 00:09:23

 00:07:11

 00:05:00

#8 (top 5%)

Very good results and I’m very pleased with the Personal Best times of the bike and run, and the overall new PB! Knowing there wasn’t even 10 minutes between my finish time and the winner of my group, I think there is certainly a chance to finish higher but this also shows the strong field in my group!

I’m hoping to crush the bike split Personal Best again in my next race so who knows what’s possible…

What’s Next?

My next triathlon race will be the Ironman 70.3 Zell am See, Austria, on the first weekend of September. Just a few weeks to recover, continue training, and taper for the race.

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