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Exorcising the Ghost of Ironman Zurich

Exorcising the Ghost of Ironman Zurich

Planet-X Chairman Toby Baxendale reports on his ride at the Ironman 70.3 Lanzarote.

After a poor performance in the above in the summer, I thought I should get back to the IM70.3 distances which I am much more suited to.

The IM70.3 Lanzarote event is held at Club La Santa, Mecca for the sporty person. I am surprised I have not been here before ­ it is simply a fantastic place. The temperature was 25 degrees with the wind "only" predicted at 18 MPH.

The swim in the sea is actually in a sheltered lagoon. The red flags were out and the Atlantic was blowing up a rough one, but we were OK.

There were a few Germans in Speedos only, fair play to them, they are mad for sure, wetsuits for most. The usual washing machine of the swim for the first 500m or so was as expected for us "mature" swimmers in the middle of the pack. I got out at 35.16. Happy with that.

Transition to bike, dead easy, then off on my strongest discipline, the bike. From the second I left the La Santa compound, I had to angle my bike at between 5% and 10% to the left to counter balance against the most extraordinary cross wind: I have never ridden in or like that before for a prolonged distance. Most extraordinary, in exposed coastal bits, sand dunes were blowing fully into us from the side. As it was an out and back course, bar for the accent and immediate descent of the mountain, it was like this all the way. Tip for anyone thinking of doing this event or the full Ironman here in May, don¹t bring any deep rim wheels, aero helmets or even a Tri bike designed in a wind tunnel etc: its all a  complete waste of time, you need stability and that is it. There was 1780m of climbing, ironically the 10k stretch in the middle up 500m was the easiest and most pleasant part of the course. No wind and you could just sit in a gear. Descending in the areas of no wind or the wind behind you could get you over 50 MPH, but only for limited stretches. Most of the return had cross winds and head winds. I would not be lying to say I thought most of the home journey off the mountains would be a nice coasting free wheeling affair. It was get on the very edge of your seat, be thankful that you have had all your children, ride on the rivet and grit your teeth, burry yourself, and work hard to go down hill! I covered the distance in 3:19:45. My usual times would be anywhere from 2.30 hrs for a flat course to 3:00 hrs for a one with mountains. That said, it was certainly an experience.

The run was a three loop out and back along the coast with moderate undulations. The cross wound was with you all the way. I nailed the run in 1:41:45. I was certainly not expecting that, but I just felt great.

05:43:11 in total. 26 in age group and 168 out of the total field of 850 (I don¹t know yet how many actually started and finished - yet).

This race is for strong bikers. I certainly doff my cap with respect to anyone who does the full distance here and I fully understand why globally, it is the only IM race that never sells out!

Its a great race and a well managed one. I recommend it. I may well be back. It is a good way to finish the season.

Thank you to my family for indulging me with the time, to train Simon for coaching me, Brendan for our weekly ride, Tony for our great Alpine exploits in the summer and Darren and Sabine for putting me up in Switzerland for the full distance event.

My friends from Planet X, there is life in your chairman! Off to eat a cow, a pig and even a horse if I can find one!

Toby Baxendale

14 November 2012