In my opinion Embrunman is the hardest race of this distance in the world. The swim starts at 6am in the dark and so involves following a canoe with a light on.
I sprinted off the beach and started swimming hard. I found I was leading and led for the first lap with 2 on my feet, we stayed as 3 till the end of the swim, coming into transition I was pelased to see it was 2 athletes with high numbers and I had a good gap on the athletes I was worried about, so set about riding up the first mountain straight out of transition.
The boss told me to take it steady till the strong bikers caught me, Reboul caught me half way up then we rode together till about 60km when 3 others caught us including Le Floch and Zamora Perez, we rode to the bottom of the Col d’Izord then Perez went to the front and lifted the pace Reboul and I followed but I started to lose ground on them and ended up with Le Floch and 1 other to the top.
A quick stop at the top to put clothes on and get some food and drink, then I hammered it down to try to make up some ground, on the penultimate climb I could see Reboul and tried to close the gap, in hindsight I probably worked too hard on this climb and then suffered on the ride back in to Embrun and got caught by Le Floch at the bottom of the last climb, which is a beauty of a climb! So you’ve done 180km and your back to Embrun but they send you up another 5km climb.
Unfortunately I didn’t listen to the boss and save something for this one and lost about 3mins to Le Floch.
Onto the run I was cold, wet and pretty knackered but knew I could run ok, so out I went with my bike jersey, arm warmers and rain jacket on, I quickly caught 4th but had some gaps to the top 3. I got some good encouragement from the boss, well it was kind of along the lines of “get a f in move on” so off came my rain jacket and bike jersey and I gave it what I had. There are 2 big climbs on this 2 lap run course and man they kill after that bike. At the half way mark I was still in 3rd but then saw the boss again and he was even more, expressive, and said “you can win this, get f in going” so I caught Reboul then Perez but Le Floch was running well, I kept pushing. In the end came in 2nd, 2mins 30sec down on Le Floch.
I am pleased with my race. To compete in any ironman you have to be very fit and prepared in all ways, but a race such as Embrunman, especially when the weather conditions are challenging, really is a true test. So I am very proud to finish 2nd in this race on Friday.
And for Bella to win and to break the course record is an incredible achievement and once again shows what hard work can achieve.