In short, I went around my first Ironman in 14:35:06. Swim and bike went as good as my best expectations. But the marathon was a calvary: with about 30°C on the Prom', I was dehydrated, in hypoglycaemia and unable to eat/drink properly.

LegTimePos.Pos. cat.

Before the race

Triathlon is a bit of a hassle logistics-wise. Indeed, you have to carry your bike along with loads of equipment with you, hoping it doesn't get crushed in the plane. That's when my box-moving skills acquired during para-academic activities get handy ;) My local bike shop kindly gave me a bike cardboard box that I reinforced a bit with sheets of plastic at strategic places. I removed both wheels and put them on the sides, I also put the rear derailleur where the wheel normally sits. I padded the fork, the back of the frame, the chain rings and derailleurs with pipe foam.
Then I was off for a 10-minute walk carrying the bike and one hour and an half in the tube/DLR. Great fun! The extra fee to fly the bike with Air France was only £32 one-way (not so much compared to the standard extra weight fees), but they didn't know exactly how to do check the bike in. All this stuff stressed me quite a bit before the race. Anyway, I eventually arrived in Nice with my bike in working order.
On Friday we went to Nice to register, collect my bib number and the transition bags. On Saturday we went to Nice again to leave the bike in the rack, drop the transition bags and get marked on the arm and legs. From that point, not much could be done any more.
On Sunday, I had to get up at 4am to get there at about 5:30am. Needless to say I didn't sleep well. Once in Nice, I quickly checked my tyres, got changed, dropped my street wear bag and off I was to the pebble beach.


I positioned myself on the side, along with the weakest swimmers. At 6:30, 2500 swimmers ran into the sea. It was a bit messy, but not quite as much as I expected. Of course I got kicked and smashed in the legs, the arms and the face, but that wasn't too bad. And at least that wasn't meant.

On the other hand, some guys pushed me strangely on the side and one even grabbed me to pull himself forward. How stupid is that? I was so angry I thought about kicking that idiot.
Anyway, the water was pretty warm and there weren't any waves, so it was a real pleasure to swim at sunrise.

loop 12.4km46:521:57/100m
loop 21.4km30:542:08/100m

After the first loop (2.4km) I realised I was going faster than expected, although I wasn't pushing it. This is due to the high floatability in salty water combined with the good buoyancy of the wetsuit.


After a relatively quick transition (less than 10 minutes), I took the bike easily. 50km of warm-up to start with. Then started the 21km ascent (a 1000m climb). It wasn't too steep (5 to 7%). I took it easy at about 10 to 15km/h, got overtaken quite a bit. The scenery in the back-country was awesome, the roads were good, not many cars, no navigation involved, reasonable temperature above 1000m, it was all good.

During the descents, I tried to follow some guys in order to improve my cornering technique, but honestly it was often way to fast and scary for me.
The only annoying point was people dropping stuff everywhere, bottles, discarded tubes, pressured C02 cartridges, and other litter on the side or even in the middle of the road.

split 123.3km49:5128.04km/h
split 246.7km2:25:2419.27km/h
split 348.7km4:15:5111.42km/h
split 425.3km1:05:0423.33km/h
split 536km53:4440.20km/h

My bike was clearly in the top 10 worse in the park. I guess the profiled frame and wheels have little impact at a slow speed like mine. But a lighter carbon frame would have helped in the ascents. On top of that the handle bars weren't tied up enough after the plane trip, and ended up a bit low. That could have cost me a fall during the descents.

When I realised I would finish the bike in between 7h and 7h30, I became (too) optimistic. That would leave me at least 7h for the marathon.


With no wetsuit to remove, the second transition took surprisingly longer than the first one. I didn't cover properly the back of my shoulders with sunscreen. With about 30°C on the Prom', that was a big mistake I'm still paying for now. The run consists on going four times to the airport by the "Promenade des Anglais" along the the seafront (without any shade at all) and back to central Nice by the same way. My shoulders got badly sunburned, covered in blisters and the skin got ripped off easily before being properly dry.

After only 10 minutes running and despite the overwhelming heat, I started to shiver. Hypoglycaemia was already on its way, just as it happened so often during training. I took it easily, as ultrarunners would do: walk, drink, eat and be patient until it gets better. I alternated running and walking. At the end of the first-of-four loop, I got my first, white, wristband. But I didn't feel any better. While everyone looked very hot and willing to be showered, I was still shivering. A real calvary.

loop 1 out5.25km35:358.85km/h
loop 1 rtn5.25km42:237.43km/h
loop 2 out5.25km43:057.31km/h
loop 2 rtn5.25km51:236.25km/h
loop 3 out5.25km41:297.59km/h
loop 3 rtn5.25km48:176.52km/h
loop 4 out5.25km46:466.74km/h
loop 4 rtn5.25km44:197.11km/h

At the end of the second loop, I got the red wristband and started to feel slightly better. Unfortunately it didn't last long. After a couple of kilometres I realised I couldn't eat or drink properly. Everything got stuck in my stomach. At the end of my third loop, although I was happy to get my last wristband (the black one), I was feeling quite bad. I think that was quite obvious on my face, given the way people were looking at me. On the last loop, there were suddenly not many people around any more, as the finishers' peak stand at around 12 to 13 hours. Supporters became sparse and volunteers started dismantling food points (they were still manned, but had less choice). It was really hard, and I'm not sure where I sourced the energy to walk. At 5km from the end, I decided to take a 5 minutes nap. It didn't really help, but as I stood up I threw up all the blocked water. I was a sudden relief. The last 5km were at least enjoyable!

Many runners (and even volunteers) went back home in ambulances. And some even fell after the race. It was a bit scary, and I'm glad I didn't push it harder.
I lost loads of salt and water by perspiration (I was covered in salt dust at the end), and I think a salt unbalance blocked my digestion. I'm just a bit disappointed I didn't realise that whilst running. I could have tried to eat savoury stuff. Anyway, during the next 24 hours, I was craving for cheese, as if my body was asking for salt. Before going to bed I drank a glass of water with a bit of Roquefort and Comté. Not the easiest stuff to digest, but that's what I wanted. In the middle of the night I ate a "Crottin the Chavignol" with 2 slices of brioche. At breakfast I felt more like a four-cheeses pizza than a pain au chocolat (I eventually got one for diner, though :) ).


My only surprise is that there weren't actually any :) The swim went well and so did the bike. And although I knew the transition with the run might be hard, I haven't trained enough for that.

I've proven that it is possible to finish an Ironman with little preparation. Whilst my plan included 6 to 7 sessions per week, I've done 5 in average. My weekly training time was between 8 and 10 hours. There is no real need to go progressively through sprint, Olympic and 70.3 distances before attempting an Ironman! And the thrill is much bigger that way. The stress as well... Obviously, performance-wise, it may not be the best approach!

I've already been asked whether I would do a double, triple or deca-Ironman. I don't think so. Note that this is not a definite answer. Firstly, the logistics is a bit too much, I prefer simpler things. Just take my shoes and go running. And secondly, I'm not impressed by the behaviour of some triathletes to say the least. The swimmers that meaningly pushed and pulled me. The cyclists dropping their bottle in front of my wheel (or everywhere else). The runner that angrily pushed a child away as he was crossing in front of him, and who would have fallen badly on the ground if not holding his dad's hand. All these things disturbed me. Of course there were also loads of amazing people among the volunteers and athletes. In particular the Pirates Ship of Fools, a British group of triathletes, were very supportive and friendly. But well, it's not quite the same atmosphere as in ultrarunning. Not a surprise, though.

So now I can follow the last part of the motto coined by the Ironman creators "Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life" :)

Last but not least, I'd like to thank everyone for their support in my periods of doubts, and more particularly Bastien for hosting me. I don't think I would have made it through without a bit of help, my currently weak mental would have lost me.

More pictures here, and even more here.

Ultra triathlon.

* These are final results. I'm not sure why they differ from the live tracking. Maybe because of disqualified athletes?