Mallorca 70.3 Race Report

I’ve been to Mallorca several times over the last few years and always had a bike while there to ride some of the excellent roads in the area often as a key part of training starting with before the Outlaw in 2013.  I’ve been there for the Ironman before they got rid of it and always wanted to do the 70.3.  So we booked 10 days in Mallorca with 3 days prior to the race in a hotel right by the transition area and to follow the race with a week in a villa.

My bike was in the hands of CycleTransfer who I cannot recommend enough and they collected it a few of days before I flew out (and a bag with all my kit) and basically were waiting for me near the hotel when I arrived.  I’d done Haugesund last year as my first ever race abroad but this one was on another level – the biggest 70.3 on the planet.  3500 athletes including about 1200 from the UK.   Arriving on the Wednesday with registration opening on the Thursday. It was easy enough to reg myself and Alex (Ironkids) with the entire event village on the beach.  Spent too much in the expo.

Now just to rewind a bit training had been going really well, I’d done Turbovember in November and kept the training volume up once 2018 started – indeed through until May I’d actually logged more training time than when doing the Outlaw.  Then Kathryn and Alex picked up a bit of a virus and as they recovered it hit me – nothing major but just enough to induce some fatigue and a cough.  What I didn’t appreciate was how much it affected me after that – any session I tried I had to abandon and I quickly realised that I needed full rest to have any hope of recovery.  Indeed 7 days before the race on a particular warm day I had to abandon a gentle 10K run with K at about 6K as I literally had nothing left in the tank.  So I basically did nothing more until that Thursday evening where I took the bike out for a shakedown ride down the road between Alcudia and C’an Picafort.  That went OK so I hoped I was fine.

Friday was the day for check-in and with 3000+ bikes to check in you get given very particular times to do it – but that didn’t stop the queue being sizeable, mainly down to people ignoring their time slot it must be said.  I can’t recall where or what I ate that evening if I’m honest but I tried to get a good nights sleep and failed miserably.  I considered bailing a few times during the night but when it was time for business I got my head in the game and set off leaving Alex and K to an extra hour of sleep.  I checked the bike, pumped the tyres and with so much time left I went back to the hotel where I got my wetsuit on before heading to the beach with the family.

Mallorca is a rolling start and you seed yourself by time – 3600 people at 6 people every few seconds is a long old time and I was pretty much in the last 30 in the water.  My first ever sea swim since 2007 and tbh that was 750m and I wanted to give up the whole way round.  In comparison this swim went really well – I counted the strokes between each buoy getting to about 150 each time and when I checked my watch at about 1200 I was pleasantly surprised to see I was doing really well.  I came out of the water in 53 minutes which is a big PB for the distance and off no swim training (thank you salt water my extra floaty friend).

A jog up the beach and to the bike I get bike ready with very few of those many bikes left behind – a lot more than the number of people who got in the water behind me that’s for sure.  Paul Kaye even gave my bike a shout out – it does stand out a bit.

I started the bike in great form – averaging well over 30kph for the section to Pollença.  At this point you start the long climb to Lluc – first the Coll de Femenia and then a more undulating climb to Lluc.  The initial section is 7.5K at about 6% where you gain over 400m of elevation.  I’ve ridden this climb before and I set a Femenia segment PB by 6 minutes.  Hard going but I feel better than the people I’m passing.

However I get to the top and the effects of the virus strike.  I literally have nothing in the tank. I can barely pedal at all.  I freewheel every downhill and pedal squares on the uphills to Lluc trying all sorts of gears to try to find something my legs are willing to work with.  Eventually make the descent and it’s a doozy with umpteen hairpins – indeed the full descent takes the best part of half an hour.   I feel at this point that if someone were to offer me a lift I’d get off as I can’t see how I have another 45K in me.  Riders are going past me and I’m having to stop at every aid station as I don’t have the energy to try to coordinate picking stuff up on the move.  It gets to the point that I’m not loads in front of the cutoff and I’m having freewheel for a few seconds every 20 or so pedal strokes. In fact if it wasn’t for a bit of a tail wind on the run back to town I’m not sure I’d have made it.  I push the last 10K with all I have just to give myself some sort of buffer on the run cutoff – the total allowed time being 8 hours.

I finally get back into T2 telling K that I am “ruined” but I resolve to get out on the run course and see what I can do.  At this point I have 2 hours and 39 minutes to finish.  My hamstring is tight but I know the first aid station is just outside the transition area at the start of the 2 and a half lap run course.  I get to the aid station and load up on drink and anything to give me some energy.  I can’t quite run yet but walk a bit more and try to stretch my legs into life.  It’s very clear that i can’t walk the whole thing in the time needed so make myself run some.  It starts off running 100m or so and then walking a bit but soon my legs come to life and after the first lap I manage to put together a couple of 10 minute run spells together.  It’s not fast but it’s fast enough. After the first half lap I was behind schedule but after the next I’d managed to give myself enough time.  I could have walked the last lap at a speed and made it but I wanted to push myself as hard as I could so I kept running as long as I could – telling myself I had to run at least 800m before walking and keeping that to a minimum.  I’d put a sahara style hat and arm sleeves on in t2 and keeping them wet with water from the aid stations and that Kathryn was passing me really helped.  I don’t think I’d have kept cool enough to keep running without that and the numerous aid stations available were a huge help.

I overtook a lot of people in that last lap, many who weren’t going to make the cutoff as they’d have started well before me in the swim.  The extra half an hour most IM events give would have made all the difference.  I’m finished, in more ways than one, I can’t face post event food but do get a massage as the queues are empty. I don’t really hang around in collecting my kit and bike as it needs to get back on the CycleTransfer van home – they were doing another event in France the same weekend too.

I’ll be honest with my kit packed off to go home I didn’t do much training after that – bar a bit of walking around.  Just need to recover now for the events coming up. Steelman and 113.

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