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De Haan

Ironman Lanzarote 3.8-180-42

This was my fifth participation at the race (which indicates how mich I like it), and after my previous results I was hoping to finish top twenty again (though that should be no problem) and hopfully be close to top ten and close to the top of my age group. Since the training camp in Mallorce, training had gone well, though work forced me to skip a few too many sessions in the last weeks. But then, nobody has a perfect preperation.

The swim start was hectic. I know, it usually is, but a bunch of age groupers started running to start just behind the pros. When they saw that, they started. Some athletes started yelling "false start" so a couple held back, but some just continued. In short, it was not an orderly start and we all geban our race. The start had the strange result that after a couple of hundred meters, I suddenly had to swim through a big group. Anyway, after the first lap I saw Filip Segers running in front of me (we have to get out of the water for a couple of meters), so I knew I was swimming quite well. At the end of the second lap, I saw another Belgian, Alain Vervoort swimming next to me. All in all, I got out of the water at the back  of a large group (about 1'30"between the first and last of the group) with just a few top swimmers ahead.

Once on the bike; Filip Segers (definetely a strong biker) flew by me and I couldn't even try to stay with him. Just ahead I saw Alain, but it took me a very long time to catch and pass him. Only in the fire mountains I could leave him behind me. Though I felt like I was not riding too strong up till then, I started to feel a lot better and caught a few competitors. As usual there was a lot of wind (though it was even worse a week before the race), but it had turned just a little. Anough to make a couple of descents a lot harder, and some other parts a bit easier. Not a bad deal I would say. Completely at the end, after passing the monument at San Bartolome, I started to feel a bit weaker, so I took the last bit a bit easier. This allowed some guys to catch me again, but well, the race is not over yet. Just before entering Puerto del Carmen again, there is a short out-and-back piece so I could see who was just behind me. Wow, I was being closely followed by Thierry Claes (we often swim together) and a bit further was Jim Beuselinck. I knew it would be hard to try and stay ahead of them.

As usual entering the transition area again gave me a real kick. All the spectators where cheering, loud music, a shouting speaker... My hairs were standing up, and it gave me an extra dose of adrenalin. As usual I had some difficulty to not start crying because of this. Off for the marathon and I had the feeling that I was running quite well. The first lap passed quite well, and I was looking where the other Belgians were. Wim De Doncker was a bit further back then I had expected and I completely missed Bernard Sarazin. As it happens he had a very hard time on the bike which cost him a lot of time. But he finished with a strong marathon to make up for part of the lost time. I had also lost Filip Segers, but he going so slow when I passed him on the bike that I was not surprised to find out he had to quit. Far ahead was Dirk Van Gossum, strong as ever, battling for a podium finish.
My second lap was almost as good as the first so I was still felling good. Thierry had already passed me (just at the beginning of the second lap), and he was going strong, catching others all the time. He would get to an incredible seventh place! On the second half of the third lap I was struggling. This continued for the first halp of the last lap. Just before the turnaround, I was haradly moving forward with the wind blowing in my face. However, I knew I really had to run for it, if I wanted to stay in the top twenty, so I tried to focus on my running style and it worked. I managed to run a lot better again for the last 5km, and I managed to hold on to twentieth position.

End result, I did the race about 15 minutes faster than last year, was top-twenty for the fifth tim (sounds great, doesn't it), and - big surprise - I won my age group.

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