Race Report From Steve Newman

11 October 2014

After qualifying at Ironman Melbourne in March of 2014 with 9h11min, I

returned to the Big Island for my second trip and 18th Ironman with a sense of

pride in the knowledge that I actually earned the right to toe the start line with

the world’s best over the Ironman distance rather than via a lottery spot as in

2012.

The 2014 World Championship is a celebration race for me, however I was in

fairly good shape coming into the event so was going to push quite hard. Based

on my Melbourne form, I was about 90‐95% fit and having raced in Kona before,

I thought a sub 10h performance was on the cards and 9:40ish was realistic. I

was fairly relaxed coming into the event and a few cocktails in Honolulu and

some nasty evening meals made the taper a definite carbohydrate loading event

The race start was spilt

into 4 start groups this

year; M Pro, F Pro, M

Age Group and F Age

Group which was a new

initiative and it seemed

to calm the swim start

down quite a bit. I had a

relaxed and fairly

uneventful start, which

is quite rare for

Ironman, normally you

get belted for the first

10min. I eventually

found a small group and settled in for the 3.8km swim. Through half way in

31min meant that there was definite current pulling us along and the return

journey took 39min for an uneventful swim of 1h10min34sec.

Out of the water a quick wash down and then into the change tent, I sat on the

2nd last chair before the exit and boom, fell to the ground. The chair just snapped

in half and I lay spread eagle on the ground. Volunteers in the immediate vicinity

turned to help, but I was more concerned with getting my helmet on and getting

out of there, this is a race peeps! Anyway the death of that chair could be

attributed to one too many slices of pizza at the California Pizza Kitchen in

Honolulu or (Great place by the way)!! This event was a sign of things to come!

The long run around the pier, which seems to grow each year, made Transition 1,

3min 21s.

Onto the bike to where I feel at home and the most comfortable just pushing

those pedals round and round. I have a power meter on my bike, which is a tool

that allows you to monitor your effort (watts) instantaneously. Unfortunately I

got caught up in the energy of the World Championships and this was enough of

a distraction for me to make a few errors in pacing, and my limit of 230 watts

was exceeded many times over the first portion of the course as I said to myself;

“It’s ok, this climb is only 5min long”.

By the time we were

50km into the ride and

out onto the Queen K

highway the wind had

really picked up. The

last time I raced Kona

in 2012 the wind was

also strong so I knew

what I was in for, but

this was VERY windy

and damn ugly. On one

climb out on the Queen

K, I was climbing one of

the “It is ok, this climb

is only 5min long” climbs and then “POP”, my tight (med) Aussie race designed

for thoroughbreds split open like a tin of pop tarts at altitude. The zipper split in

half and was now strangling me around my neck and cutting in around my mid

section. In testing the suit two weeks prior I thought it was TIGHT, but to have it

bust in the middle of this race was a major pain. I eventually tore the zipper

apart and had to continue the remaining 130km with my suit acting like a “Super

Maxi Sail” in the Americas Cup. Not only was I fighting the wind but also now

pulling a damn sail through the wind would be another added challenge set for

the day.

In summary the

remaining portion of

the bike was just plan

hard! Through the flat

section of Waikoloa

into a head wind at

20km/h, leaning into a

wicked cross wind till

Hawi then climbing a

further 10km into a

solid head wind.

Descending Hawi at

65km/h, through

more cross winds and

then turning with the wind through the flats at Waikoloa where I sat on

60+km/h and feeling like the eventual World Champion legend cyclist Sebastian

Kienle. The last 30km home was straight into a head wind and it was a struggle

to stay focused. Normally you can expect weather or winds pick up at some point

during the day or it may get very hot for a section. But on this day it was just

phenomenal, the wind was relentless from the start, it just did not stop all day

long. By the end of the ride I was tired and sick of it and my 5h12min28s was the

toughest bike ride I have ever done in an Ironman event.

Putting on the run shoes in Transition 2 was a pleasure as I was looking forward

to the change; the 3min 26sec through transition saw sunscreen go on and then I

was ready to take the “Super Maxi Sail” for a run.

The start of the run was hot and after just 4km I knew that the thought bubble “It

is ok, this climb is only 5min long” and the “Super Maxi Sail” had taken it out of

me and the stella run I had prepared was no longer on the table. You can feel it,

that dead feeling of having nothing, just nothing, and the realistic thoughts at

that point that you still have 38km to “run” to finish and run as well as you can to

at least hold your head high with some pride.

A good mate from Wollongong, Burgo

rolled up at 12km on his pushbike and

offered up some kind words of

encouragement for a few km’s but the

damage was done. Once up Palani and

onto the Highway at 16km it was already

hurting but thankfully the heat had died

down as rolling clouds were coming

through. When I made it to the infamous

energy lab at 28km I had had enough and

decided to walk/run the energy lab.

Looking at photos from that section of the

race still make me tear up, it is hard to

explain the feeling of losing it, just on the

edge of cracking, starting to wobble only

to have a quick 30sec walk save you

falling over your own feet.

Out of the energy lab it is 10km to home, just 10km. I went from aid station to

aid station; eventually I made the top of Palani and knew I was home. The

dilemma now was how can I have a finish photo with a “Super Maxi Sail” suit? A

great Aussie couple passed me an Australian flag that I soon crafted into a front

panel for my suit before I hit Alii drive. I stopped and saw Sue and Oliver who

had been there cheering all day for me, it is always great to have them there as

they keep me going and also keep me honest (The more I walk the longer they

wait).

I had made it, I was once again on the best finish chute in the World, I was

pumped to finish but disappointed the run was not up to my standard with a

3h45min40s but I take strength that I held it together for a 10h15min34sec

when the wheels could have fallen far worse many times earlier. This event

tested me physically and mentally far greater than any event that I can recall in

the past. I guess that is why it is the World Championships; if it was easy the

finish would not be worth it.

I sit here 6 days after the race and am still scarred from the day, whether it is

mental or physical, I have absolutely no desire to push myself like that again any

time soon. I will not be back and will not return unless I am 100% and can race

to the standard that I set and expect. I will be back to Kona one day, but it will

not be for the next few years, but stay tuned for the next report from the big

island as it will have a different ending, I promise you. Thank you to all for the

years of support, I enjoy testing myself and will do again soon.

Ho’omau‐ Perseverance, Determination, Endurance.

Photos purchased from FinisherPix

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