170 Ben Walton, GBR
Place in AG 25-29: 27 // Finish Time: 10:39:43
Swim: 1:07:11 // T1: 3:23 // Bike: 5:32:29 // T2: 2:59 // Run: 3:53:41
Coach’s remarks: This is a great report, they get better every event… A classy kid that would be impossible to not like!! I wont like you in February though as I try and tag you at Coach dirt Benny and you know I will kid along with the Coachdirters of the team :). Thats how we will do our next goal in RAK against “you know who”.
Great read team and I just love how we all remember those days we trained together and helped one another out. Didge told me after China where I put Ben, Stuey and Didge together that is Ben or Stuey need any session at all between September and their events, I am there. I LOVE THAT, THIS IS WHAT TEAMT2A IS ALL ABOUT… Your a legend Benny
Where to start?
I met Jason back in August 2010, before going to do Philippines 70.3.
Sold me pretty instantly on a few things, we’d race Busso 2011 looking
for sub-10 on debut, I’d run under 80 minutes for a half marathon, and
there was this coach dirt run on Saturdays where you get to smash
yourself over a 5k all in run to the cars! Sign me up!
I then got up at 3am one December morning to sign up, the race sold
out in a couple of hours so I was pretty glad I did. This left me 12
months to prepare.
Next think I knew I was on a plane to Perth, it was already December
2011, a great year of training was behind me and it was time to see
what this Ironman thing was all about!
The goal from the first meeting I had with Jason was to do sub-10. Not
sure where he pulled that from, or what he saw in me, after just a 10
minute chat where he thought that was possible, but we stuck with this
throughout the 15 months, it did seem possible on paper, it was all
down to weather I could get off the bike and still be able to run
Personally I knew the sub-10 was an ideal goal, in an ideal world and
an ideal day where everything just goes right, and I imagined out of
my control. I knew I’d know if it was on during the run or if it was
gone, and to take it from there. Obviously you just want to finish
your first ironman, but you want to do well to right? So the plan was
finish, then look if sub-10 was possible and if not, get as close to
it as possible!
I’ve done 4 70.3 races over the last 18 months or so and 2 Abu Dhabi’s
so had pretty much got used to getting ready for races, packing bags
and stuff and don’t get too stressed about it all anymore. Got that
all done early on the Saturday and checked in, back to my room and
feet up for the rest of the day relaxing. Had a decent nights sleep.
Up at 2:30am (ouch! 5:45am AG race start!) checked the chat room was
all ready, and took the first shuttle to the race. After what happened
to Marshall in Korea, I’ll always get to race as early as possible
know in case anything needs sorting out, I’d rather be sat waiting in
the transition tent for a couple of hours with nothing to do than
having 30 minutes to fix a mechanical issue or anything else that
could go wrong. As planned got there as one of the first, put special
needs bag in, inflated tires, and just waited!
My rack of bikes was right near the pros so I’d worked out that there
would be more space if I moved my bike to the other side near the
pros’s as all their bikes would be gone allowing for a quick and clean
transition later on. I was pleased with myself that I’d worked this
out as I don’t normally spot these things, no matter how obvious they
Got down on the beach to watch the pro’s go off. The got in for the
warm up. Water temp was perfect, amazing. The race was a deep water
start so swam out to the start and before I knew it we were off. This
was it, let’s go!
The swim is a one lap affair, around the worlds biggest jetty (check
out this photo on Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Busselton_Jetty_aerial.jpg) in an
Once a few hundred meters into the water away from the beach, the
water becomes really clear, it was pretty amazing, you could read all
the writing on someones wetsuit who was 6 or 7 meters in front of you,
clearer than a lot of swimming pools!
I was concentrating on long strokes and getting into a rhythm, found
some nice feet and a pack to sit in going about the same speed and
just stayed there all the way to the turn around. I couldn’t believe
how fast it went to the turn around, things were going well. On the
way back I got a bit split up from my group and spent a lot of the
time on my own. It was quite difficult to sight on the way back due to
having the sun in my eyes, but you can always get a glimpse of the
jetty. I also “fell asleep” a bit on the way back, as I tend to do a
bit when swimming on my own. Towards the end of the swim I was back in
a group that had picked me up during a nap and I was soon out with the
clock on 1:07, perfect, bang on schedule. Overall the swim was
brilliant, really enjoyable, “only” 1500 people meaning that there was
plenty of space, beautiful clear waters and great temperature. As much
as I sometimes dislike swimming, this was great, and would have
happily done another lap if it was required!
Motored through T1, no messing for me. Goal was to be riding by 1:10.
Wetsuit off, race belt on, carried my shoes and put them on at my bike
where I had loads of space now the pro’s were gone, grabbed bike and
off I went. Transition was quite big but was through the whole thing
in just over 3 minutes and on the bike just over 1:10 so everything
was looking good.
I’d been a bit concerned about the road surface before arriving in
Aus. However on a ride of the course it didn’t look too bad, and the
bits I’d ridden were also not too bad. It wasn’t exactly Yas Marina
but was better than I had been led to believe and so this was fine. I
got into a nice rhythm, held my power well and off I went. The course
is roughly in a capital H shape, so a few out and backs and was pretty
nice. The Triathlon Australia rules are 12m draft zone, which once
entered a pass has to be made, and once passed you have to drop back
to 12 meters. This is fine on paper, but when you have most the field
all coming out the water around 58-1:08 the roads are going to get
congested. Also as soon as you leave a gap, even of 5 or 6 meters,
someone will come round and fill this gap and you have to back off,
and before you know it, you’d be last. Riding on the 2nd out and back
this was starting to wind me up, someone came round me and I decided
enough was enough and I needed to push on a bit, as soon as I moved
out to pass a draft marshall had pulled up and talked to me saying
that I need to drop back when some one passes, I apologised to him and
then he started messing with some cards, and I wasn’t sure if he’d
issued me a card or not and he was off. Shit, what to do. The rules
were if you had a penalty you had to stop at the next penalty box or
you’d get auto DQd. I decided I’d stop and just ask, so I pulled up
and got handed a stop watch while I started talking to the guys. They
were pretty nice and friendly and I explained what happened and they
didn’t really know if I had a penalty or not. So I pretty much waited
there for 4 mins and off I went.
That had pretty much wiped out my good swim and I’d lost a decent pace
line that was moving along pretty well and I was a bit frustrated. I
then started riding much harder than I should have been for the next
45-60 mins or so back to the end of the bike lap. I finished lap 1
however right on schedule even with the penalty, things were looking
up. If I could ride that average speed, even with a 4 min break, I
just needed to do that 2 more times, taking 4 mins longer and I’d have
a 5:20 bike split. Easy!
As the morning got on, the wind also picked up a bit, making each lap
progressively harder, my 2nd lap (of 3 laps) was slower than the first
one, mainly as it was a bit harder, but was still reasonably on
schedule. By the start of the 3rd lap I began feeling sick and was
getting stomach cramps. Damn. I’d been following my tried and tested
nutrition plan to the letter and didn’t expect this, or if I did, not
this soon. The thought of another gel made me feel sick but I got one
down anyway. I eventually had to stop at a public toilet for a call of
nature. Several minutes there and I was back on the road, feeling a
bit better. Took a coke at the next aid station to try and get
something easier down and carried on. Before I knew it I was at the
end of the bike (after my chain randomly came off, only ever happens
in races), and was amazed at how quick the 5 and a half hours had
passed, it was, in my head, similar to riding 100k at Ghantoot! It was
also just beginning to get over cast, amazing great timing! Just as I
was dismounting the bike I heard a “Benny!” looked over and Capt. Carl
and Noeline were there waving! Amazing, was so good to see them. Carl
asked how I was feeling and I made a hand gesture meaning “so-so”,
handed my bike over and ran through transition with a big smile on my
Again, concentrated on getting in and out, shoes on, got gels, run
race belt, visor, garmin, socks and trainers and out, under 3 minutes,
happy with that.
Messed about with Garmin for a bit trying to get it to pick up
satellites, got it going and we were off. I was feeling reasonable
considering, and my legs actually felt great. 4:45s were not too much
problem. Walked the first aid station as a sort of test, not sure why
I actually did this, I think I wanted to just make sure I could get
some coke and water in easily. About 4k in again I had to take another
toilet stop, however on leaving the toilet I know felt really really
good, and thought things were back on. Few steps down the road a guy
passed me running at similar pace. I fix my eyes to the back of his
tri top and keep running. Were running 4:30/k ish and I’m feeling
good. I knew the guy was a lap ahead of me and we started having a
chat. Soon after this we pass Luke Mckenzie, he’s still running but
looking in a bad way, and then we also pick up Courtney Ogden, whose
walking a 6 hour marathon! In my head now I was going to run with this
guy for 3 laps. The sun came back out, I started feeling sick again,
and I lost my friend at an aid station (he went on to run 3:16 for a
9:20 and a Kona Slot). I was back to battling, I stopped at my
favourite toilet (stopped here all 4 laps, surprised they didn’t
charge me rent), and was just running aid station to aid station, and
then walking the aid stations. Coke was now making me feel sick, I
some how got a Gu down, but other than that even water was making me
feel sick. It was getting hot, I was getting as much ice down my top,
down my pants, and in my hands as I good to keep the temp down. I was
in a world of pain, but was sort of relishing it, I knew it was going
to come and here it was. I was doing some maths to see if I could get
under 10:30, it could be on if I could keep moving (for some reason my
watch my 4 minutes slow so in hindsight I don’t think it was actually
on, either Ironman are using Marshalls timing system that can’t keep
up with time, or I paused my watch at some point). At the start of lap
2 I saw Carl and Noeline, Carl told me that Jason had said find a
rhythm, get emotional. It was pretty emotional! It was awesome to see
Carl again and had really given me a boost. I stuck with the plan of
walking aid stations and shuffling between them which was working. I
couldn’t take any more calories in, I was too scared of throwing up
and thinking if I did throw up I may have to walk the rest of the
race. Got in a rhythm of ice ice ice, water as much as I could and
shuffle to the next one. End of lap 3 saw Noel and Carl again, Carl
jogged 50 meters with me, giving it the chat “Just 10ks Benny, thats
it, 10ks! You’re supposed to feel crap, it’s Ironman, everybody feels
like it” And I was off. The reality set in that is was only 10k, one
more lap, each step I never had to do again. Once I was about 4k out,
I knew I’d done it. Brilliant. Emotional.
Collected my 4th lap band and entered the finishing chute, Carl and
Noeline were in the stands. Waited for some guy who was all over the
place to get escorted off the finish and there it was, Ironman done,
10:39 (10:36 on my watch 😉 haha!) Wicked.
Such an odd feeling. When running a marathon and approaching the end
when it’s really hurting, you just want to stop so you don’t have to
run anymore, where as this felt different, as I’d been walking aid
stations I didn’t have the need to stopping running, but more just
stopping doing everything, and lying down!
Escorted to triage. Got a can of pepsi, took one sip and put it down,
yuck! Said I felt fine but I wanted to lie down, she said I could lie
down in massage! Got a massage off the hottest australian girl I’ve
ever seen in my life, worth the entry fee on it’s own. Went for a beer
with Carl and Noeline. Didn’t go down too well! Couldn’t really eat
any chips either! Was so tired that I pretty much got my things and
went to bed! Haha.
I was pretty happy considering everything that happened and the
conditions to go 10:39! I can’t say I’m disappointed. Obviously I’m a
little bit disappointed, but if I’d done 9:59 I’d have probably been
disappointed I didn’t do 9:55 or whatever!
In my opinion there are different sides of the brain, the competitive
one that wants to do well and get the endorphins, makes you push
through races and really hurt yourself to get this, the other one is
protecting you and trying to reason with the other sides goals. Do you
really want to hurt yourself that much? You’re going to gain like X
minutes overall, won’t make much difference Ben, just be comfortable.
I think Ironman is about training the half that wants the goals to be
stronger than the one that protects you. The one that protects you
doesn’t ever get the joy of doing well or the disappointment of not
and is playing it safe!
I’ve spoke to a few people who have done Ironman, Ultra Marathons and
even Marathons where they’ve thought “What am I doing? Why am I doing
this” during the race. This never really happened to me, I was
constantly telling myself how awesome it was to be racing an Ironman,
in Australia! I was in a mess on the run, as much as it hurt, they
only thing I was really thinking was “Why am I not better than this?”.
Towards the end of the race a guy over took me, also on his last lap,
I was thinking to myself that I must be a much better athlete, and
certainly runner than this guy, but he was beating me. I’m not
disappointed, but I know I can do much better! This was the first of
many. I have the bug. I would do one again next week if I could. It’s
so hard but there is so much to improve on! I cannot wait for Roth!
Just want to thank a few people that have helped me get this far, and
I’m sure will continue helping me in the future, in no particular
Ed – I could count on one hand the amount of run’s I’ve done in 12
months that Ed wasn’t at, but aside from being my run partner, I just
want to say thanks for the endless advice and support mate,
particularly over the last couple of months of build into this,
amazing. (Same goes to Sarah!)
Didge – Didge has become “dial-a-swimming-partner”. Anytime I was
swimming Didge would come down and help as much as she could. She’d
even finish her own 4k+ set and then do whatever I had left on mine on
top of that! Thanks Didge, you’ve really helped me with my swimming
since August and you’re a great training partner!
Stuey – Stuey’s always there for level-headed advice and
encouragement, and always up for a swim set too.
Chicago – Glen and I pretty much talked about this race on GTalk every
day for 3 months, and I like to think we push each other on the sea
swims, now we’re forming our “chase pack” with Stuey, Sean and
Flanners – Great watching Flanners improve so much through the year
and was great to do that run off my solo 180, plus the advice from
your Hawaii experience with everything mate. Cheers!
Capt. Carl – Legend of the team. We had some good banter on the
pre-Aerofit bike rides, and it totally made my race having you there
supporting. You’re even on my finish photo mate! (Big thanks to
Piers – Thanks for that 150k ride @ 35k/h you did for me, in your
small chain ring while eating 200Dhs worth of Gu! The same’s coming
back for South Africa mate!
Trudy – Constant encouragement that I’m going to do well and love it!
Even if we’re not really “talking” you’ll still shout “Go on Benny!”
Plus all that encouraging me to eat and stretch more that you do!
Coach Dirt Crew – Marshal, Suz, Amer, JT etc – Great laugh every week
and thanks for all the encouragement!
Batman – Pleasure to travel with and easy going! Great to have someone
else out on the course to look for and you did great mate, well done!
You helped me as much as I helped you mate, believe me.
Ali, Liz, Beej – Thanks for the long early rides, and great to see you
all do so well in your races!
Coach – Thanks for believing in me from day 1! We are only just beginning!
Rest of T2A – I could go through and mention you all but it’ll be too
long! Thanks for the amazing support from everyone in the team, pretty
much everyone of you said Good Luck and also Congratulations. We have
a great team spirit and it really helps!