Will after completing iron man

Ironman Will Grace finishes an impressive 12th out of 2009.

17 June 2022

5 min read

Will Grace, Triathlon European Age Group Champion 2021 and University of Portsmouth Sports Scholar, has recently taken part in his first full Ironman. Earlier on this year Will completed his first half Ironman in Lanzarote finishing first in his age group. Here is Will’s story of his experience in the Ironman Hamburg earlier this month.

Ironman Hamburg, 4 June 2022. 

Whilst the majority of the UK was celebrating the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, having street parties, eating scones and drinking buckets of prosecco and Pimms, I decided to race in my first Ironman, alongside 2,009 other people. 

An Ironman race consists of a 3.8km swim, a 180km cycle and a 42.2km run. This was my first time competing in a full Ironman and although I had put the hours in with my training programme, I did not know what to expect. My ultimate target for this race was to complete it in under 9 hours. The other aim was to try and qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

The swim

The day started at 6:30am, and I was soon diving into the Außenalster lakes. The race start was rolling so there was no major battle to get a good position in the water. I soon settled into my rhythm and was swimming comfortably. I completed the 3.8km swim in a total time of 52:48, the fifth fastest swim of the day.

The cycle

Out of the water it was on to a 'long' transition in the heart of the city to find my bike and to begin the 180km cycle, consisting of two laps of 90km. 

The cycle route for this race was flat and fast, highlighting how good the Germans are at building and maintaining roads. The main aim of the cycle was to settle into a comfortable pace and tick down the kilometres. The key to the cycle was to stick to my nutrition plan to ensure I was taking on enough carbohydrates, electrolytes and water so that I was not beginning the run in a deficit of any kind. I completed the cycle in a time of 4:41:36, the 15th fastest bike split of the day. 

The marathon

Into the second transition, and it was a quick racking of the bike, a few gels grabbed, a short wee stop and the donning of the running shoes, it was time for the marathon, consisting of 4 laps of 10.5km 

The first 21km of the run felt good and comfortable, perhaps aided by the adrenaline provided by the crowds. However the second half of the run was hard, especially with the strong mid afternoon sun powering down. I was very grateful for the many aid stations along the course, and I was regularly topping up fluid levels with water, flat coke and salt water to keep the dehydration and cramps away. Onto the final lap and I knew I was going to finish the race in a good position, and so it was a matter of keeping cool and running my own race. 

After seeing the finish line three times earlier, the moment I turned that final corner and saw the red finishing chute I was filled with adrenaline, relief, euphoria and pure emotion. I completed the run in 3:00:45, the 12th fastest run split of the day.

As I ran down the finishing red carpet, I heard the commentator say those famous words… Will Grace, YOU are an IRONMAN. That is going to be something I will not forget for a long time. 

I completed the Hamburg Ironman in a total time of 8:44:14, achieving my target of coming in under 9 hours. I came 12th overall out of 2009 competitors and 6th in my age group. Unfortunately missing out on a World Championship slot. However this has made me hungry to get faster and get to the next level. 

The experience of competing in my first Ironman was incredible, and it is the start of many more to come. 

The remainder of my 2022 season is now focusing on the British Middle Distance Championships and Half Ironman World Championships in Utah.

As I ran down the finishing red carpet, I heard the commentator say those famous words… Will Grace, YOU are an IRONMAN. That is going to be something I will not forget for a long time.

Will Grace, Sports scholar

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