Lee Pembroke at Ironman Austria

11 July 2018 - By James Montgomery

On Sunday 1st July, Lee Pembroke took on Ironman Austria. This was a full-distance event of a 2.4 mile swim followed by 112 miles on the bike and finishing with 26.2 mile run., all to be compeleted within 16 hours.

Here is the shortened version of Lee’s race report, there is a link at the bottom to the full verison:

Lee Pembroke was in for a long day, his alarm went off at 02:45 that Sunday morning.

Bags packed then down to breakfast at 03:30, one last check of kit and then off to transistion. Final bike checks, hand in the run and the bike bag; the walk through transition to the start area. It’s a strange place – you know you’re in for a special day.

The water was 21.3 degC, so it was a wetsuit legal swim. Ironman have started to adopt a rolling start system, with competitors segregated by expected swim times and are then set off 8 at a time, which started at 06:40, but from 07:00, it was business as usual and everyone remaining sent off pretty much together. If you’re at the back, you’re in the washing machine! Once in the crystal clear water, the 1st 400 meters was very congested but Lee eventually found other swimmers at his pace he could draft off.

The final 1000 meters is along a canal, which again was very congested, probably the nearest you can get to feeling like a trout in a trout farm, swimming over each other, kicking and shoving, but after 1 hour and 20 minutes 43 seconds the exit is a welcome site. That’s the warm-up over, now the rest of the day begins…

It’s quite a long run from the swim exit to T1, but a quick dry-off, change and out on to the bike course in 9 minutes 50 seconds. Having doen IM Austria a few years back, the plan was to go as hard as he could on the bike as he knew this can be a fast bike course and his best chance to save as much time as possible but for some reason it seemed really hard going which wasn’t what he’d been expecting. The first climb is the Reibnig and the second major climb is the Rupertiberg, you know once you have reached the top of the Rupertiberg as the view is amazing as is the descent. On to the start of the second lap, down onto the bars to try and push on again and then he noticed that his left front brake pad has been pressing against the rim of my front wheel for what must have been the first 56 miles!

Repositioning the front brakes effectively made them useless and Lee chose to ride the second half of the course with just my rear brakes, though making the climbs substantially easier, the descents were interesting. Eventually after the 112 miles the dismount line was in sight returning and in to transition in 6 hours 55 minutes and 59 seconds.

T2 – red run bag grabbed and into the transition tent. Changing meant relief from the cycling shoes and nice to put on the running shoes and WRC vest. 8 minutes and 23 seconds later Lee was back out but into the 28 degree heat with “just” the marathon to go.

The marathon consists of two fairly flat laps that first takes you into Krumpendorf and then back into Klagenfurt, the support on the course was amazing and much needed. He now had to make a decision whether to try and make up the lost time on the bike or keep it sensible and make sure of the finish, for about the first 5K he tried to maintain an average pace of 8.30 minute miles but he soon realised this was wishful thinking, especially in the heat. With sponges on offer, there was some relief from the heat, along with plenty of fluid and bananas, Lee made a new plan to run circa 0.75 miles and walk 0.25 miles trying to time his walks with the feed stations, this was clearly the right thing to do.

With just under three miles to go the temperature was starting to ease back so he decided to dig in and bring it home with what were his fastest miles, then onto the magic red carpet for the finishing straight and the immortal words – “Lee you are an Ironman” – crossing the line in 5 hours 8 minutes and 31 seconds for the run and a total time of 13 hours 43 minutes and 27 seconds for the race.

It was a long day, a long training programme and a lot of blood sweat and tears but Lee had an amazing feeling crossing the line to get the finishers medal knowing that “anything is possible” and an immense amount of respect for every single person that takes on the challenge!!!

Lee Pembroke – IM Austria 2018 (Full version)

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