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Pre 1997

Lanzarote Ironman,

This is definately the best organized race I have have competed in. The athmosphere which was created by the crowd was incredible. There were two big tribunes just before the finish line, and each time an athlete passed (bike start and finish, and once for each of the three run laps), they applauded and cheered as hard as possible. Combined with the loud music and speeker who presented all the passing athletes, I have to assume that the people who cheered us on all day, must have been deaf for a week or so. But it sure feels good to be cheered on as much.

The race started at 7 am, under the first rays of sunlight. The swim is in two laps, and the athletes have to get out of the water for about 10m which is great for the public (a bit less for us, especially in shorter distance races, your lungs seem to collapse when jumping back in the water, didn't have that problem this time though). The swim is along the coast, and the first bouy is about 30m from the shore. Fontunately, you can still stand there, or it would have generated a massive beating for the start. Though I didn't start with the elite, I got away reasonably well and had a good string swim without spending too much energy. I exited the water in 27th position, just 4' behind the leaders.

Get out of wetsuit, take helmet (getting some suncream on shoulders and lower back), and hop on bike. The conditions were tough. We were lucky that it was cloudy all morning (the sun only broke through when I was already running), but that is not all in Lanzarote. The roads are hardly ever flat, and even when they are, you still have a stiff wind to battle against. However, as cycling is my strong point, I was counting on the others have more problems with the wind than me... So all was going well for the first 120km and I had climbed up to fifth position. At that point I was starting to feel a bit weaker (I later realized I was getting dehydrated - they (well, Jean Moreau) warned me about that, but I obviously didn't quite drink enough, the dry air in Lanzarote makes you loose water much faster than you think, and you especially have to remeber to continue drinking when riding uphill or against the wind). I also got a yellow card for crossing the white line on a descent (oops, didn't know about that rule). Anyway, lost some time (and one place) in that last portion, so I started the marathon in sixth position.

The start of the marathon was exhilirating, the large crowd was cheering so strongly. The legs however, didn't feel as comfortable. During the second lap the legs were starting to feel even worse, so I decided it was time to take some radical action. Though I was drinking at each possibility alread, I started walking through aid stations to make sure I had time to drink even more and to cool down. Apparently, this must have helped me quite a bit, as I started to feel better, and I was really running again between aid stations for the last 10km. To my surprise, I was still sixteenth at the finish, and considering that I probably lost a lot because of dehydration (inexperience), I am quite pleased with that result.

So I learned another good lesson for my next IronMan. Considering what a joy it was to compete in such a well organized race, I will prabably be back next year.

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