95 Mitchel Hickman, GBR

95 Mitchel Hickman, GBR
Position in AG M40-44 : 30 // Finish Time: 06:48:32
Swim: 0:57:39 // T1: 0:02:08 // Bike: 3:00:51 // T2: 0:02:18 // Run: 2:45:36

Coach’s remarks: Great report Mitchell, wait til we have the calf right 🙂 Thanks for sharing this and enjoy the read team over a coffee.

Race Report: I would just like to start by congratulating and acknowledging the performance of the team over last weekend to all those who competed in the RAK Half Marathon and those who survived Sri Lanka!! Also It’s only fair to pay respects to JT for the sterling work he did organising the hotel, airport transfers etc, however I’m sure even he wasn’t banking on the full scale riot which took place on the Thursday evening. Nice little welcome for the T2A crew.

So here we go… A small group of T2A member’s flew from Dubai to Sri Lanka on the Friday morning only to be greeted with a level of humidity and heat which meant it was going to be a hot race. Could not believe the intensity and instantly knew hydration would play a huge factor.

The bus ride from the airport to the Cinnamon Grand hotel would soon give an insight into the bumpy road conditions and crazy, no stupid driving which takes place in Sri Lanka (it makes the SZR look like a very civilised affair!!). Have to say the whole place instantly reminded me of Phuket in many ways.

Team dinner on the Friday evening had been organised by JT where talk over the table ranged from the quality of the Bavarian Bar up the road from the hotel through to Seano and Marshall mixing it with the locals. Earlier in the afternoon we had gone to pick up our registration packs and it was pretty clear the Organisers were bricking it as none of the kit, bags, etc had arrived. This would pretty much set the tone for the weekend.

Saturday morning came with a quick “splash” as Coach would say around the swim course, and a gentle run to top things off, in preparation for the main event which was a guided bus tour around the bike course!!

I’m not sure whether it was just me but I got the impression they were making the bike course up as we went along!!  I was really concerned that we were going to have to cycle over rail tracks and all I could think about as we went over every pot hole, bump etc was this could be puncture central. The other thought running through my mind was… I hope they close these roads as if not it could be a “technical” ride!

Back at the Iron Man HQ it was chaos as normal and it was later confirmed at the race briefing that it was touch and go whether the event would actually take place. Rumours of mass drop outs and premium sponsors being imprisoned on conspiracy charges only added to the excitement!! I’m also sure Marshall had a hand in getting the bike course changed as I re-call he demanded a meeting with the Bike Course Director!! They also decided to change the run from 2 laps to 4 laps, which was probably the best decision made over the entire weekend!!

Race Day!!
I have to say I was a little nervous going into the race for a couple of reasons. One, it’s a long and hot day in the office (unless you’re Ian Le Pelly) and secondly I was going into the race with my left calf properly strapped up having torn my lower soleous muscle just before the New Year.  This is in addition to the right calf which I also tore during the Crowie Camp in November. I had spoken to Coach about how I was going to manage this issue and we had agreed a combined swim and bike time, then a run / walk strategy to get me over the line.

Race time had been changed to 6.30 am so hit the transition area in plenty of time to do the last minute checks, re-checks, then final checks etc. I had decided not to take my blackberry along to this event as when I was in Phuket one of my fuel bottles leaked, and basically blackberry’s don’t like coke!! Simple as!! Final checks completed, and headed with the small field of competitors (only 164 people completed the 70.3 race) to the start of the race. Even though the day would turn out to be hot and humid it was quite cold waiting for gun to go off!!

Gun goes off, and the drill is simple… you swim, cycle then run!!! In that order, easy!!  Now those looking for a technical race report you can press the delete key now as my strategy was to enjoy the day, complete the bike course in one piece and see how my calf holds up!! I took the swim steady, no dramas and just made sure I headed back towards the flag pole. A much better performance than my swim in Phuket and came out the water to great support from associated team members and family etc.

Into transition, Garmin doing what it does best, and then out and onto the bike course.  What then takes place over the course of the next few hours will live with me for a long time!! From the other reports already filed you will know the bike course was a little crazy!!  If you were not battling with tuk tuks or buses pulling over to drop off passengers, it was dogs, tourists or Police Officers who I’m sure enjoyed sending competitors the wrong way.

The 3 lap course was flat but technical (I’m sure that’s the phase) and being serious for one minute thankful there were no serious accidents recorded!! The Organiser’s had got away with it… just!! One thing which was quite liberating was shouting abuse at anyone in the way, and I do remember seeing Ian Le Pelly screaming “OUT THE WAY” at full voice to one unsuspecting tuk tuk driver!! The road conditions were also great for losing things too, notably water bottles!! Lap 1 and one fizzes out of my bottle cage! Great!!! I consider the distance and decide to stop to retrieve the lost bottle! Unfortunately for me the bottle was picked up by an old gent who was probably in his 80’s and had the speed and urgency of a very slow moving object!! I’m sure he had no idea why I was shouting “COME ON” at him!! Thing’s get tribal when racing!!

I was trying to make lap 3 uneventful as lap 2 nearly had me in A&E when another Police Officer sent me the wrong way round the course, resulting in me braking hard, and just avoiding skidding into some railings. If it’s a crime to swear at a Police Officer in Sri Lanka then I’m as guilty as charged, your honour!! The most pleasing aspect throughout the whole bike course was maintaining a low HR and coming into transition bang on the time I’d talked through with Coach. Whilst I’d lost all but one of my water bottles on the course I’d made it back, and in one piece!!

I must also mention Seano here who I have to say had the 90 K of his life and also pay respects to Higgsy and Stevie Morgan for completing the bike course, despite being fallen by the road conditions of Colombo!! Respect!

Out of transition and onto the run. I have to say the weather was now starting to feel very hot and sticky and knowing the last time I had really run was in Phuket knew this was going to be tough. What was fantastic was the support around those four laps, and notable mentions have to go to Jordo, Tim H, Piers and Didge, who literally placed herself on the darkest part of the run, shouting encouragement. I salute you all!! The calf performed as predicted and my lack of running recently became obvious!! It was a struggle and the range of emotions I went through on the run changed constantly!! As I was approaching the final few km I passed Lisa, and we exchanged words, I don’t know what makes me feel I’m some sort of expect here, however the word “focus” was used and I after apologised to Lisa as I thought I’d been too harsh. Turns out it was just what she needed!!

Now comes the real funny part of the race!!  I had just passed the team with the last 100 metres to go when I heard the Commentator shout out “Now let’s give a big cheer for Suz Mun Yee”. Mr Yee by the way was competing in the fiercely competitive 75-79 age group category!! Upon hearing these words I was thinking I’m going toe to toe with an OAP to finish the race!! Forget the Hammer vs. Marshall battle this was going to be war!! Fortunately for me, Mr Yee was not turning for home, and carried past the cones and headed on his journey. I have to say I did have a right old laugh to myself as I finally crossed the line in 6hrs 48 mins and 33 secs!!

Delighted to have completed my first 70.3 event however a little gutted on the run time. I feel there’s some unfinished business at this distance!! On completion of the race I was handed a medal which made the whole thing worthwhile. It’s a quality medal and I would like to thank whatever primary school in Colombo for painting on the words “Iron Man Finisher”!! I actually think the first medal I was handed read “Rion Man Finished!!!

A quick visit to the medical tent to get some ice for my calf ended up with me being packed up with more ice than you could imagine!! And that was that!! Race done!! I have to say it was a great feeling and congratulations to those T2A member’s who secured slots for Las Vegas. Given the conditions, organisation etc, fantastic performance!! Whilst completing the race was a great feeling, this was matched only by the looks of delight on the children who came to watch the event as we handed our water bottles to them. Very humble feeling to be honest. It was then back to the hotel, quick sleep, catch up with work e-mails and pack the bike as I was on the 9.50 am flight on Monday morning back to Dubai!! The check out from the hotel was pure comedy gold with the duty manager racing around like Basil Fawlty! That itself is another story!!

Finally I feel I have to set one record straight as I don’t actually own a pair of Euro Hot Pants!! (why are they called hot and why are they called Euro btw) however I was spotted on the way back from the pool just in my Speedo shorts, plus t-shirt! I apologise at all T2A members who might have been offended by my actions, however I have to say I did find the whole experience very liberating. You should try it some time, bit like listening to Jazz music!!

As they say “Don’t fight it feel it”!! Cheers and onwards towards Abu Dhabi next weekend!!