Nicola Spirig – Ironman Champion 2014

It’s always tough for a coach when you’ve got multiple people competing at the same race. Particularly Ironman where the racing is inevitably volatile. Part of our sport’s beauty is in its ability produce the most euphoric of highs for those who put it all together on the day, while inflicting the most crushing of lows for those who get their race wrong by as little 2-3%. Such was the story for the team at yesterday’s IM Cozumel.

The race started off brilliantly for both our men’s and women’s squads. All our guys swam really well and lead onto the bike. However, in the men’s race, this is where the wheels started to come off. Skippy (Todd Skipworth) had a very tough day at the office during his IM 70.3 at Cozumel last month. While winning the race, he collapsed at the finish line and had to take time out to recover. Since then he’s worked extraordinarily well, so we hoped he’d overcome the bad experience. However, sometimes you just don’t know if you’re ready until you are back under race pressure. Coach made the wrong decision allowing him to toe the start line here, but Todd will regroup and make an assault on 2015.

Similarly, Andres (Castillo) after a brilliant swim struggled on the bike early. This wasn’t totally unexpected as Andres had an interrupted preparation after making the decision 4 weeks ago to become full-time head coach of the TriCozumel team and help co-ordinate the Tres Hermanos social program, which has exploded in numbers. That given, to swim and ride the way he did on the first lap is a credit to himself and the team.

Dan McIntosh was just plain unlucky. When you are struck down not by one, but three punctures into the first 70km of the ride it’s just not your day. With no more tubes to fly with Dan had to check-in early. Rounding out the men’s contingent we had Stephen (Bayliss), who flew in from Spain late to proudly represent his team. Stephen, as he always does, put up a huge effort to be competing with courage until coach ended his day prematurely. This is a tough sport and sometimes you’ve got to make tough calls to prevent brave athletes from burying themselves because they are endowed with too much fight.

So all-in-all it was a race the boys would probably like to forget, but sometimes you get those in IM distance. The important thing is how we rebound in the next one.

As for the women’s race. Well, we all know who won. Plenty will be written about it by others so I don’t want to add too much more apart from she executed every instruction with military precision and on limited prep willed herself to another victory. It was master class from a champion who has now won at every distance triathlon has to offer. Well done, Nicola .

Celine (Scharer) also had a good day bouncing back to her ‘nearly’ best with a tough 4th. Going out a little too hard at the start of the run may have cost her the podium, but youthful exuberance does that. Brooke (Brown) also took part in the end of season race, struggled for 2 laps on the bike, then took off to get herself back in it. Again she struggled early on in the run but by the last lap had fired right up to run into 9th. Great work Brooke.

Finally, Ruth Nivon, the youngest pro in the race successfully completed her first Ironman. At the finish (15th) she was quick to summarise her experience to coach before he got any ideas: “The first and last one I’m doing.” We’ll see. But it was a busy day put in perspective by our youngest. A very, very tough day for all athletes competing at Cozumel yesterday.

Congratulations to all who successfully completed the Ironman.

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