Challenge Wanaka

How Robert Raced Challenge Wanaka at 50 Like a 32 Year Old

Challenge Wanaka 2018

Well, another one under my belt.  My 7th Ironman distance race since 1991… kind of like to space them apart lol!!

February didn’t start as well as I expected as I was struck with a bout of a chest cold and back pain in the weeks preceding Challenge Wanaka.

I manage to drag my sorry bum to Wanaka while still being pretty optimistic and feeling better by the day leading up to race day.

The weather was great the day before.  As we all do in the weeks and days leading up to race day, I have my nose glued to the weather info on my cellphone and just hoping for a nice and warm day.

Challenge Wanaka

Race day, Overcast and very dark over the lake the lake is quite choppy but not as bad as in 2011.

Forgot that our starting time was 6:45 and had my tinted goggles which didn’t help for orientation. Duh!!

400m into the swim I started to feel pinching in my lower back due to arching my back to see above the swell.  Oh no!! I was telling myself, how will I manage 180km on the bike with back pain?

I took a deep breath and just tried to swim in a way to limit any discomfort during the swim leg and assess once on the bike.

I guess that once I got out of the water I was so happy that I managed to completely forget the back pain and went on my merry way on the bike..

Challenge Wanaka

Rain and no wind!! The Challenge Wanaka course is well suited for Northerly wind as it gives you good speed on the flats and most of the area where the headwinds are, is where you go uphill anyway so there is not much loss in speed, but this year for about 80km there was hardly any wind and it was pissing down with rain with a temperature around 14-15 degrees which wasn’t really comfortable for a skinny guy like me, even with arm warmers.  Sadly all that cost me 50mins in the first loop and then the weather cleared up and got lots warmer.  I then managed to do the same time as last year for the remainder of the bike course.

I got into a transition a very happy man, but a very tired one. I felt more tired after the bike than I felt last year at the end of the whole race.

Challenge Wanaka

I picked myself up from that chair in the transition tent where I was sitting alone and went out onto the run course.

The first lap didn’t feel too bad.  I was able to maintain the pace I wanted to do which is run between 6:00 and 6:30 per km and walk the aid stations.  It mostly worked, but faded a bit on the second loop.

During the second loop, I was more in finishing mode, enjoying the scenery and chatting with the lovely volunteers.

From midway on the bike, I knew that I was at least 30min behind my finishing goal time so it was a case of taking my time and making the best of it.

Challenge Wanaka
Challenge Wanaka

I ended up finishing at 13:46 which is about 55 minutes slower than last year but still had a blast.

Thanks, Coach Ray for your great mentoring and for helping me improve and managed to race at 50 like a 32-year-old.

– Robert St-Denis

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