Reasons to believe 2018 Ironman World Championships will be the year to remember.

I read yesterday that Javier Gomez Noya's main goal this year is the Ironman World Championships. 

Now until you live under a rock or are not associated to triathlon in any way, you wouldn't know who Javier Gomez is.

Well, I'll give you a pictorial representation of Javier Gomez using this reference from the movie "Moneyball".

So, there are good athletes, bad athletes, 50 feet of shit and then me, right there at the bottom. And above the good athletes, there is Javier Gomez. I once ran a standalone half marathon in 1:20:16. He came off the bike 4 minutes after the leader Ben Kanute during the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. And he won the race by over 2 minutes, running a blistering fast 1:10:29(3:20/km, 18 km/hr) in the process, after swimming 1.9k and biking 90.1k.

He has won 5 ITU World Championship Titles, 3 ITU World Cups, Ironman 70.3 World Championship and he is highly regarded as one of the greatest triathletes of all time. You can read more about him here. Or if you don't like to read, congratulations you are contributing to the zeitgeist. I don't condone your behaviour but here's a video for you.

What really impresses me about this man is not his swim or bike skills. But his run skills are out of this world. The ITU guys are all great runners and this man is right up there with the best of them. You can find some examples of his sprint finishes here and here.

But you'll say, ITU guys come into Ironman racing all the time! Look at guys like Jan Frodeno and Tim Don who have times of 7:35 and 7:40 over the 140.6 miles. You might be wondering, what is it that has gotten me excited enough to actually write about this.

Well, for starters nobody really cares about my existence anymore. When I was racing in India, people were all over me. Now the phone doesn't buzz. I need to do 1 big event and look how they'll come scampering back. Colours won't matter and mindless accusations of "oh look, you made a joke. You should be hanged on the altar" will be replaced by "Can you take a picture with our product and send it over?".  Even the people I thought I was close with don't care. Well some of them do, but again this is a valuable lesson for me. Every time too many people appear in my life, something happens to weed out the bad ones and I'm left with the good ones.

Plus I don't have a job at the moment, because apparently the country you belong to matters more than your brains! And they wonder why Europe is on decline and why Americans elected Trump.

But no, all this was just pent up anger that I love to spew. I am waiting for a time when I will be mature enough to let this go but till then, deal with it.

The real thing is, I love Triathlon. And I love to see competition. Infact, I am someone who encourages competition and have never been jealous of other people's talents. According to me, elite athletes are the zenith of human capabilities both mentally and physically. And it is our job as human beings to reach as close to that zenith as possible. That's when we achieve our truest potentials and serve our purpose on this earth.

The last time there was a really good competition with years of buildup it was during the famous IronWar of 1989 when 6 time Ironman World Champion Dave Scott, collided with the contender to his throne Mark Allen.

The story is well told and everyone in the triathlon community with even a tiniest bit inclination to learn the history knows it. Mark Allen had beaten Dave Scott around the world except in Hawaii, which was Dave Scott's playground. Mark had attempted the race 6 times, but was somehow just now able to win it. Dave Scott, on the other hand was a master from hour 6 to hour 8 of the race and to beat him would mean committing yourself to a level of suffering you could not replicate in any training session.

And in 1989, that is what happened. Dave and Mark came out of the swim together, off the bike together and then ran together starting off at 6 minutes/mike (3:45/km pace). Neither of them backed down. Dave's game was not only physical, it was about mental domination and it was here that Mark was finally rising up to the challenge. After 24 miles(almost 39k) in the race, an aid station appeared just before Palani hill. Mark was brilliant at running uphill and Dave was absolutely brilliant on the downhills.

Approaching the aid station, Dave had been thinking he would accelerate at the top of the hill and leave Mark in his dust. But Mark had something brewing up in his mind too. He took the risk of not taking a water stop at Mile 24(with 3k to go and the effort in the heat, it could have all ended really badly for Mark) and even as Dave reached for the water, Mark accelerated up the hill and for the 1st time since 1980 Dave Scott didn't have the answer.

Mark Allen reached Ali'i drive and broke the tape that year in a staggering time of 8:09:15 breaking the previous record on the island by 19 minutes. Dave Scott crossed the line 58 seconds later in 8:10:53.

What makes it more amazing is these guys rode bikes like this:

It is that old school, steel bike with absolutely no existence of Carbon Fibre anywhere. Yes, there were clip-on aerobars but let me throw some science at you here.

This is what a modern day Ironman triathlete rides:

Now because, I am an educated person I will present you with the difference between these 2 bikes by throwing some numbers at you:

Courtesy: Professor François Vuille

A time trial bike is not included in this, but as you can see at 32 km/hr (which btw is nowhere near the speeds the professional athletes ride), for 1 hour you consume 140 watts of power, where as on a racing bike it is almost half of it and it further reduces when you move into an aerodynamic position.

Comparing road bikes to TT bikes, to make a 4:25 effort on a road bike with aerobars (like in 1989) vs a 4:25 on a proper carbon frame and wheels TT bike would mean a significantly higher usage of Power (it roughly comes out to be around 30 watts/hour, which means 120 watts over a 4 hour period). What this really means is after you get off the bike upon making such an effort, you would be FAR MORE EXHAUSTED in 1989 than in 2017. (more power consumption, more exhaustion).

And bikes are not the only thing. In the modern world, technology is being used to shave off seconds using everything, riders have aerodynamic speedsuits and aero helmets and they shave the hair on the back of their neck to save time.

Dave Scott's moustache might have cost him 20 seconds out of the 58 he lost in 1989.

Mark Allen's aerodynamic face vs Dave Scott's not so aerodynamic moustache
Coming back to the point, when Patrick Lange finished his bike 12 minutes after Lionel Sanders and ran like an gazelle grazing the meadows, running a 2:39:59 marathon in the process, he was much more fresher (atleast theoretically) compared to when Mark Allen and Dave Scott started running.
Even I would tap that, just loved the running form too much.
So why did Patrick, who is an absolutely amazing runner, run a minute slower than what Mark Allen ran in 1989? (Yeah, yeah y'all can argue Mark's official time was 2:40:01 in 1989, but that includes transition. The actual time was 2:38:xx).

Why even after all the science and technology and the absolutely incredible times over the 70.3 distance, are these guys not cracking 2:35:xx over 140.6?

According to me, and well I might be wrong, this is to do with competition. Now hold on a minute before you throw a pitchfork at me, I'm not saying the competition is bad right now. I'm saying the competition hasn't stayed strong for long enough for the magic to happen.

What happened in 1989 was the ultimate triumph of mind over body. Both men were suffering and neither of them quit, just because they had it in their mind that we won't let up. Dave Scott for me is the absolute master of the mind and that year when finally Mark Allen met his mind game, there was an explosion. In 2016 Jan Frodeno was able to run away with the title, because Patrick Lange was docked time for a bike penalty but man I love Lange, he almost ran the 2nd placed Kienle down running 2:39:01 in that process. And in 2017, Lange overtook a really struggling Lionel Sanders cruising to the finish line.

Just imagine 2018. Jan Frodeno will come back, angry. He was betrayed by his body and had to walk in 2017 and knowing the man he is, he will come back hungry and ready for any challenge. Patrick Lange has fired up Lionel Sanders, who is now training with a picture of Lange overtaking him and Sanders is a grade A badass. He will comeback as strong as anyone can ever imagine. Lange knows this and he will show up in brilliant form as well.

Add to the mix, Javier Gomez (you didn't forget about him, did you?). A bloody strong triathlete with a penchant for running and burning desire for Kona. Just imagine even 2 of these 4 people running side by side with 1 or 2 men chasing. Just imagine David McNamee, who is also a brilliant runner setting fire to the tail making the men in the front go harder. And the men in the front, refusing to listen to the noise in the heads, the begging and pleading to slow down.

It took Dave Scott to bring the Ironman time down to under 11 hours, then under 10 and then under 9. And now that's the benchmark. It took Patrick Lange to come close to Mark Allen's run course record and now everyone is working on their run skills. It takes 1 man to set the trend and soon the records tumble.

Just imagine, what will happen in 2018. The stars seemed to have aligned and everything is in place.

I think I can sum it up with a Venn Diagram:


  1. Awesome analysis about the "magic" that may happen on the second weekend of October this year.
    I just wish we could see this lineup along with Alistair Brownlee, but may be not this year.
    Another guy, who is now out of the radar, whom I want to see win the championship is Andreas Raelert, but now, may be age has become a factor in his case.

    And come on man, stop being humble in the "50 feet shit" pic.
    I think most of the guys who follow triathlon in India know that you are one of the best athletes here.


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