Kate Comber - 3rd @ Ironman UK - Race Report

New to the Bike Science - Boardman Elite race team this season. Kate Comber reports in from her overall 3rd place and fastest age group lady result at Ironman UK...

I still feel that every time i race i gain so much more experience. One of the biggest lessons i learnt with Ironman UK was to trust in my training. I’d been apprehensive about the race as i felt that in comparison with other times, my taper leading up to the race had left my body feeling slow and lethargic. Yet as the race went on i felt my body embrace the endurance challenge, surprising myself with a strong finish on the run.

Whilst the weather forecast appeared pretty bleak, i was thankful that the swim distance was not shortened, as had been the case in the 2 other events i had competed in this year. The rolling start was also a welcome feature of the swim, as i found that i could settle into a good rhythm from the start, and didn’t have to waste energy fighting for space amongst over enthusiastic competitors at the race start. My first lap of the swim went well and i soon found myself overtaking the coloured swim caps of pro athletes. However, as i began the second lap, the course became crowded with athletes still on their first lap and by the time I had picked my way through I had lost track of my position in the swim pack. This meant that it wasn’t until i met my partner 9 miles into the run that i became aware of my overall position in the race.

I knew my bike leg has gone relatively well, however i knew that i had been overtaken by several competitors and had wasted time riding back up a hill to collect my dropped puncture repair kit. Also with the bike route being 2 laps, again it became very difficult to judge my position in the race as i embarked on the second lap. Before driving around the bike route the day before i had imagined that the route would be relatively urban and much flatter than i had experienced in Ironman Wales. However, i was pleased to find that long sections of the course wound through picturesque countryside and included some challenging climbs. This was my first full ironman on the Boardman and on such a technical course. Add in the gusty wind, torrential rain and a recent fall in my last race meant that i took the first lap timidly, determined to remain upright on my bike. Fortunately as the rain eased, the wind dried out the road and I began to relax into and really enjoy the bike course. The support was amazing. In Horwich people were crowded in the road, providing a Tour de France style atmosphere near the end of the bike loop and at one point i was chased up a hill by a growling man in a lion outfit!

As the bike had taken us a long time to drive around the day before, i had foregone the chance to recce the run route in favour of getting an early dinner. This meant that as i started the run route i had no idea what lay in store for me. On top of this the run has always been a challenge for me. I am by no means a natural runner. However this year, fed up with the dread that the final marathon presented me with during ironman races, i finally decided that i needed to put more time into my run training and ignore the lure of the bike and the comfort of the pool. As i made my way round the run course i was glad to have made this decision. With each lap i was surprised to find that my legs continued to feel strong and as i entered the final lap i decided to give one last push which, unknown to me at the time, pushed me into 3rd position overall and put me on the podium, spraying champagne with Lucy Gossage and Caroline Livesey. What an awesome experience to fuel my training next season.

As for now, i am really looking forward to a stunning seaside race in Weymouth in a couple of months!

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