Triathlete Mike Phillips recorded one of the fastest times by a Kiwi over the ironman distance at IM Barcelona in the weekend to claim 2nd from a large field of seasoned international pro’s.
Terenzo Bozzone is currently the fastest Kiwi recording 7hr 51min 26sec at Ironman Western Australia last year, next was Ironman legend Cameron Brown with a 8hr 00min 12sec in Melbourne in 2012, however Mike Phillips has found his place in the record books between the two stars with a time of 7hr 52min 50sec.
Mike reports -
I have been over in Europe for the past few months training and racing on the European scene. Following my iron distance debut in Challenge Wanaka, I wanted to do one more full iron distance race this year to gain some more experience. Ironman Barcelona was the obvious option, close to Girona (my training base) plus points towards Kona 2018 was a possibility. I was lucky to get a start, with over 100 pros registered I was told it was their busiest pro race on the calendar.
I knew the course was conducive to fast racing: Wetsuit swim in salt water, super smooth roads on the bike and a paved flat run. I was in better shape than in Wanaka (2nd in 8:32:00), plus I had learnt a lot from that race so thought on a good day I could be in the low 8 hours.
A beach start made for a bit of chaos, especially with the large number of pro men. I started out wide and was able to round the first buoy at the front. I led most of the swim with guys either side, which doesn't make for fast swimming but I was happy to be at the front and out of trouble. I surged a few times to try and drop some off the back of the group, leading from the swim in 47min56sec.
The bike is on the highway along the coastline from Calella towards Barcelona, it undulates a bit but is a very smooth surface. Anthony Costes, myself and Bertrand Billard worked hard early on to try and split the group, I was well over my ironman power at 30km in. However the group contained too many strong cyclists with too much energy and there was still 9 of us together midway on the bike. At 100km Costes managed to ride away from the group and I noticed the pace in the group was dropping. Costes had nearly 2 minutes at 120km, I didn't want to leave it to a running race with a group of very good runners, plus Joe Skipper not far behind. I rode off from the group and pushed some stupid numbers for 35km to catch Costes with just under 30km to go. We kept the pace on to come off the bike with a 6min lead, bike time 4:09:55 (new bike course record). Escaping the bunch from 115-135km, 372W for 20+mins.
Starting the run I felt very comfortable, I thought my watch was wrong as it felt very easy and I was under 3:40/km, which I knew would come back to haunt me late in the run but it's hard to purposely slow down when your leading a big race. I had a one min lead on Costes and 7min on the bunch after one lap of three. One of my friends spectating told me I was on world record pace 7h40min, at this point I realised I needed to hold back a lot more. I still went through halfway in the marathon in just under 1.21. Costes passed me at 23km and didn't look to be slowing at all. Sure enough by 30km everything was hurting and I was in a world of trouble. I managed to hold my position in second with a 2.50 marathon, to finish in 7hours52min.
Ironman Barcelona: run splits
I couldn't be happier with my first "Ironman", I learnt a lot again from this race and think I can still improve a lot more. This now puts Kona 2018 on the radar, so hopefully I can add another Kiwi to the pro men’s start list.