• Nikki Bartlett

IRONMAN LANZAROTE


Leading up to this race, there was a poll to vote on the toughest IRONMAN out there. With Lanzarote top and Wales close behind, I realised the 4th IRONMAN I was about to complete, was one of the most iconic of all.

Rather than go in depth into my race, I would just like to reflect lightly, with hopefully some insights on IRONMAN racing, the course, and hopefully a takeaway tip or two for anyone with an IRONMAN coming up, or looking to enter this race.


The build up:

Wasn’t smooth.

Most reading this will probably know that I crashed out on my bike, on the last training ride in the UK before leaving to race IRONMAN South Africa.

After what was a rollercoaster of a 2017, this was without a doubt a crash which mentally impacted me quite significantly. I felt the 2017 dark cloud was continuing to follow me, and this time sent me to bed for around 5 days, and is till causing me issues (hand related) now. Bones and bone bruising takes AGES to heel.

In summary, concussion is GRIM, bone bruising and breaks in the hand make a lot of things in life difficult, and a swollen knee takes penguin walking to a new high.

I’ve got a blog written with my sponsors Linac Learning which I wrote a few weeks ago, which should come out soon on resilience, so I will stop with my tears on the SA drama ;). But for someone looking in, they might not realise the mental impact these things can have, and for me it was important I set a new goal quickly, and IRONMAN Lanzarote seemed to be calling my name…

A world-class field started the race, and without a doubt the pace was about to be ON!


Race location: Puerto del Carmen

This for me was probably up there with one of the easiest logistical races I've done:

1. 5-10min drive from Lanzarote airport

2. You will need a hire car to register / briefing at Club La Santa

3. Accommodation is literally 5-10min walk from the start: T1&T2

4. The more I race an IM, the more you want to keep the logistics as simple as possible – this race ticks it all

Swim:

Sea swim, beach start, 2 x 1.9k loops (Aussie exit) – bang on, although most easily swim 200-300m more due to being trapped by 100s of people!

In summary without a doubt the most horrendous swim race experience ever haha! But you can’t complain about something you knew was going to happen/you entered yourself for. But in my eyes this swim is not fun, and not safe!

Below is the race start: one mass start with the pros standing in the water, with the Agers running DOWN the beach, and pretty much hit you (literally) in seconds. I want to quickly add – this is the only downside to this iconic race for me, so don’t let this put you off.

Within about 10 seconds you’re dunked, kicked, hit, goggles ripped off, hat off, even my timing chip got ripped off. I could hardly put more than two strokes together before getting drowned or generally battered. This didn’t stop for the whole swim, and when I came out slower than my EASY swim on the same course, in choppier conditions before the race, I was so glad to get out and move onto the rest of the race.

Taking off a wetsuit one handed in T1 was a bit of a mission!

Out in 9th place onto the bike…


Bike: 112 accurate miles.

BEAUTIFUL. Especially when they ADD ON 400m MORE climbing to the already brutal course. With the sun, wind and hills there’s absolutely no hiding on this course. Within the first hour I was riding pretty conservatively and found myself in 4th, brilliant.


Photo credit: James Mitchell - IRONMAN Lanzarote

Honestly, this course is either up or down, and the downs often smack you with head/cross winds so you need to be on it at all times. I absolutely loved the bike course. There’s something quite magical about the lava rock, the views and smooth roads. It’s a long course athletes paradise and still my favourite training location. With 8,000ft of climbing you needed to be on your nutrition game.


Photo credit: That Camera Man: IRONMAN Lanzarote


Photo credit: That Camera Man: IRONMAN Lanzarote

Nutrition: This was the first IRONMAN I’ve done which I’ve nailed the nutrition. I’ve come away from gels, and gone to double strength powders with fluid. Alongside predominantly taking Clif Bloks. The Fusion Speed Suit makes it really easy to carry nutrition on the bike and run (pockets on the side of leg and back of suit).

Some people have asked why I was riding and running with my hands on my belly, this wasn’t due to stomach nutrition issues lets just put it that way. I’m glad I’ve focussed on my key IRONMAN training sessions taking on race day nutrition. If you’re someone who feels sick on gels, I would highly recommend Clif Bloks. I mainly use Strawberry, and use Tropical with caffeine towards the end of the ride. Then I only use (3 packets) of Bloks on the run.

I came off of the bike in 3rd behind Michelle and Lucy with some speedy runners behind.

Yes, I’ve had a lot of people question my T1 and T2 times, but lets just say a lot of tears were shed in the T2 loo. I only came out due to the crowds literally shouting for me to hurry up.

This was an emotional race in more ways than one…and was about to reach a new level on the run…


Photo credit: That Camera Man: IRONMAN Lanzarote

Run: Just a marathon to go! Another accurate course

The run is pretty rolling: 3 laps, one big and two smaller loops.

The first loop heads out past the airport and you wish for the turn point on every corner. This takes FOREVER to come. It’s pretty windy on this section too, and pretty lonely.

But the crowds on the two smaller loops will motivate you enough to get the first lap done and dusted. The crowds are epic on the run course. In fact, you guys (along with Bex, Marion and Graham) got me to the end of this race, so thank you!

I wouldn’t say it’s a fast and flat course, but its not an IM Wales up or down kind of course. I would definitely take advantage of the special needs aid station, something I make sure I do in every IRONMAN now on the run; you pass this three times so it’s worth doing.


Photo credit: That Camera Man: IRONMAN Lanzarote

After some curb sitting, emotional tears and without a doubt the deepest I’ve dug in a race, I made it to the finish line holding 3rd Pro position, one of my proudest moments to date. When I was actually running, this felt as comfortable as a marathon off a bike and run could feel, it was just a tad interrupted. So I was truly surprised to find out I ran a 3.16.


Photo credit: That Camera Man: IRONMAN Lanzarote

Crossing that magic red carpet is something unbelievably special, the emotion floods out, the pain temporarily disappears and you soak up the crowds. Then you flop, literally across the line!


Photo credit: James Mitchell: IRONMAN Lanzarote


Photo credit: James Mitchell: IRONMAN Lanzarote


Photo credit: James Mitchell: IRONMAN Lanzarote

Summary:

This race is epic. If you can overcome the swim mess, it’s a fantastic race. And truly has to be one, if not THE toughest IRONMAN out there. Each IRONMAN completed should be celebrated, enjoyed and shared. It’s an emotional build up, and it’s a whole lot more emotional when you cross that line. The distance is INSANE, and to come 3rd knowing there’s a lot more to come excites me.

Congrats to everyone who finished. Some people won’t have achieved what they set out to do, but those who didn’t but finished (apparently 92% finished which is epic!), your race will come, and you’re a whole lot stronger for gritting it out. Congrats to everyone who raced, to Michelle and Lucy on the top 2 steps, Simone who was on fire, and it was a huge pleasure to share the whole experience with the Passion Fit Team; the guys and girls I train with when I’m at home, and the best dressed people out there.


Photo credit: That Camera Man: IRONMAN Lanzarote

Thanks to…

Coach Rob, my goodness we’ve shared some times together over these last two years ;).

Sponsors:

The Financial Fitness Group

Linac Learning

Skechers Performance UK

Fusion Sports UK

Zone 3

Rolf Prima Wheels

Kask, Koo

Supporters:

Clif Bar

Ceramic Speed

Continental Tyres

Absolute privilege to represent Abbie’s Sparkle Foundation. If you do anything today, head over to this page, you'll without a doubt be inspired by this charity.

Without a doubt the best better half I could ask for. Bex that has to be up there with one of the emotional days we’ve spent together, and I think my relationship with the in-laws have reached a new high haha.

Thanks to everyone who supports me on this journey. I bloody love it, and love sharing the highs and lows of sport – the reality of success and the rocky road.

Next up: IRONMAN Staffordshire 70.3 on the 10th June – should be a fun experiment. I’ve had a lot of people questioning my sanity racing so soon. But I’ve been to every IRONMAN Staffordshire to date and I love the race. And I love racing. So of course I’m going to be there giving it my all x


Photo credit: That Camera Man: IRONMAN Lanzarote


Photo credit: That Camera Man: IRONMAN Lanzarote







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