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GB Hawaii report

GB's Nick Kinsey gives his account of the recent Ironman Hawaii…

Nick Kinsey is one of Britain’s strongest Ironman athletes. Here he reports his adventures from Kona…

Ever since my last visit to ‘The Ironman’ in Hawaii, in 2005, I’d been planning a return at age 50 to win my age category 50-54. Things don’t always work out…

Things started to go a little ‘pear shaped’ just two weeks after my qualifying race (Austria Ironman) and 10 weeks before the Hawaii Worlds. At the end of July, something went seriously wrong inside my ankle. I have racked my brains as to exactly how I did ‘it’ and what exactly had happened. Had I done it lifting something heavy at work or jumping down

from lopping a tree in my garden?

It was different to any injury I had ever had before and only really hurt when putting weight through it. I concluded (with the help of a privately funded !! £250 MRI scan) that it was some sort of stress fracture in the area of the Sub Talar joint.

At first even walking was painful and I didn’t run train for 10 weeks prior to the race. But my Hawaii flights were booked and hotel deposits paid, so I decided to go for it. What the hell, how hard can it be to run a marathon on a dodgy ankle?

My race started very well, my taper was good! I had managed to jog four miles two days prior to the race, in only moderate pain, and I reached race morning well feed and watered, totally rested and in a very upbeat mood, all factors which are almost as important as the training.

It was a beautiful morning and the sea looked fairly still. As usual the swim was a bun fight for perhaps half a mile. I just got unlucky with regard to where the paddle-boarders (who hold the swimmers back, behind the line, at the deep water start) chose as their exit route, when the cannon fired.

Perhaps 20 or so of us frontrunners piled into them in a major ‘shunt’, all kicking and clawing at each other to get round them. It is difficult to swim when someone is half way up your back pushing your legs down. Once into a rhythm, the swim flew by and I rounded the boat at the turn round in 31 minutes, and got back to the Pier and up the ramp to finish

that section in 65 minutes, in 567 place from the 1,800 starters.

The bike section was always going to be the easiest bit of the race for me because my ankle injury was not affected by biking. I had concentrated my training on this element, culminating in two weeks intensive training in Northern Mallorca, cycling many of the major climbs in the Tramuntana mountains, that the British Cycling Team use as tests.

In Kona, the bike heads firstly around town and then out onto the Queen K highway. The first 40km was quite congested, as I picked my way past faster swimmers. I remember feeling fantastic after about 70km after I guzzled my first SIS gel, and was still strong as I flew up the climb to the half way turn at Hawi, passing scores of riders.

Normally I begin to feel a little jaded at about 110km or so but luckily the training had paid off and I was still able to push – which was lucky because that was when the headwinds

started. All the way to T2, sapping my speed and any strength I had left for the run.

Now I was in trouble: 26 miles on a dodgy ankle and already pretty wasted! Still, I had moved up to 307th in the race overall, passing 260 athletes on the bike.

Out onto the run and the ankle was painful from mile one. I was running lopsided, or so it felt, and limping. I really don’t know how I completed the marathon to be honest. I was walking (or hopping really) as early as mile seven. But I’ve done a few, and knew it just wouldn’t be one of my fastest!

I eked out the few joules of energy I had left in my body until at mile 24 at the bottom of Pay and Save Hill. At this point, I knew I could make it home, so I really went for it, charging up the hill into town, as I knew I could put up with the pain in my ankle for a short time. Finally dropping down into Kailua-Kona I drained the tank dry with a 6.06 last mile, as I thought I was catching the German athlete for third place, and a podium finish.

I overtook him in the last 50 metres, under the Banyan tree on Alii Drive, and was elated at the finish. I had done it in 10:02hrs and cam in 300th place.

It was only later I discovered we had both been overtaken, somewhere out there, limping along on the Queen ‘K’, and he had actually only been in sixth place not third.

So I finished in 10 hours. Not my best but not bad on one good leg. But it was flustrating to finish sixth, as the first five made the awards podium with a nice big trophy. I lost out to fifth by 50 seconds, and missed fourth place by three minutes. I was beaten by an Australian, a Belgian and three Americans.

I am only just walking normally now – two weeks later. I really did not do my ankle any good at all. Still you only live once, and I don’t want any regrets. Next year – I will

get the measure of those ‘ole boys’!

Profile image of Matt Baird Matt Baird Editor of Cycling Plus magazine


Matt is a regular contributor to 220 Triathlon, having joined the magazine in 2008. He’s raced everything from super-sprint to Ironman, duathlons and off-road triathlons, and can regularly be seen on the roads and trails around Bristol. Matt is the author of Triathlon! from Aurum Press and is now the editor of Cycling Plus magazine.