Daniel & Jean-Claude Besse

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Ironman Zürich

Frankfurt last year was Rushteam's big yearly excursion, and brought many newbies and experimented iron(wo)men to the world of long distance. This year there would be fewer oranges at the start line, but starting in Zürich was the guarantee to see plenty of known faces along the course. The road to Zürich started early. Very early. Despite a busy schedule with work and everything around, we registered as PROs and summed up a tad above 200k of swimming, 5000k of biking and 1000k of running over the first 7 months of 2018. They weren't all easy, I've seen ups and downs, FTP breakthroughs as well as blow-outs and painful plantar.

But there I was, on a warm Friday evening, lining up in the yacht resort serving as media center. PRO briefing and bib number pick up. Around me only fit people, all eagerly awaiting the gun shot of Sunday morning. I am rather confident on my race shape, though probably more stressed than ever before, with the exception of Frankfurt (the “most xx than ever before, except Frankfurt” is a recurrent theme, brace yourself…).

Not much to say for Saturday, an easy day mostly spent at home, one tab open on the tracker of the 5i50, the other on MeteoSchweiz. At 4pm we rack the bikes in transition zone, and get back home quickly. Dinner for 8, thank god friends and family are here for a relaxed atmosphere, because I'd be dying otherwise.


On Sunday morning once the bike is pumped up, the bags filled, the Garmin set up in racing mode, we get towards the start area. A few familiar faces wish me good luck, contrary to other races I think I might need some this time…

As usual before a race I am not very talkative (some may even say as usual would suffice).

You're on the front line
Everyone's watching
You know it's serious we're getting closer

Race nerves
Pre-race nerves.

Starting as a PRO means you get to compare to the very best only. While very cool, it's also some added pressure on a good result.

The start line isn't very packed, yet as soon as the gun goes off there is no extra politeness. You gotta fight for your space, and while I can do that against the first guy next to me, when Ronnie pushes for some feet I'm not really armed to fight… (and it's probably not worth the effort).

Race start
Race start.

After the first turn at the yellow buoy, I get sort of nauseous. A few hundred meters later part of my breakfast finds its way backwards into my mouth. There's no holding it, nor swallowing completely back in, so off goes a little “fish nutrition”. Throwing up in the lake, though not much, wasn't the ideal vision for a good Ironman start. But hey as they always say, “prepare for the unexpected, and get ready to be surprised nevertheless”. It's gonna be a long day.

I lost a few positions in the process I believe, and get towards what seems to be the back of the second swimming group. I switch temporarily to 6-beat kick to secure the connection at the second buoy. Once in the slipstream, time to glide. 2-beat kick, long arm pulls, no worries it'll be ok.

Along the long stretch opposite Mythenquai our group splits in two, and I keep right with what seems to be the slightly slower guys but shorter path. Not much to say here, I could be swimming slightly faster but at the expense of a lot more efforts than drafting. At the very end of the straight line the group merges again, which causes some chaos, I have to get out of comfort zone slightly to not lose connection, but get back into gliding pace before the swim exit. I try to pee a bit before exiting the water, but can't. It should then hold for the next 8 hours …

Swim exit
Swim exit.

Standing up on the green carpet next to Ronnie, I get a glance to the watch. Slightly above 55min (I actually started it too early, it was rather slightly below). Not too bad, perfectly in the planned pace.


In T1 I start eating already, put my stuff on, grab my bike and here we go. Shoes laced up, and getting up to speed. Ronnie is way too fast, Samuel Hürzeler as well, but around km 10 a Spaniard and a French overtake me at a pace that seem negotiable. Barely faster than me alone, and with legal drafting at 10-12m certainly much less efforts. I stay with them until Meilen, get to the front of the group, back behind again, until they explode at the first little climb going away from the lake. I lose a gel because my box stayed open from the previous one I took. It ends up in the chainring with a loud noise, but after one pedal spin backwards it falls off and all is sorted out. Two german überbikers pass me; even at 300w I can't stay with them, and thus decide to let them go.

Getting closer to The Beast the pace is ok, legs are feeling great. The stomach is another story, but that's nothing the head can't shut off as a mere inconvenience. I enjoy the climb, getting out of the bars and climbing at reasonably high wattage. No familiar faces at the top, probably the only place I expected it but didn't see anyone.

Bike climb
Bike climb.

In the descent towards Egg I surprise myself by being much more cautious than I thought I would be in a race. No biggy, relax and push on the next climb. Towards Forch it's then full pace on the aerobars, and here we are, ready to descend, at 36km/h avg but with mostly climbs only.

The descent is again not my forte; I eat a bar, and start along the lake with renewed motivation. I look forward to getting towards Bellevue, Mythenquai and Heart Break Hill. There are so many people cheering on me, it's like 20 bonus watts coming from the air around. Especially Heart Break Hill. Almost feels flat. Literally pulled up by people. Amazing feeling. Just look at the crowd. I love it.

I'm on my way
I'm on my way.

Meeting Dani and the rest of the PROs that are quite a bit ahead of me is another kind of news to swallow. But hey my plan is my plan, and I asked people not to give me ranking infos before km 20 on the marathon. Because an Ironman is still mostly a race against your own limits. And some days your limits are closer than you expect. I've thought of giving up on the bike already, I'd be lying to say the opposite. But I couldn't do that to the people who've come to support, spend the day in the heat to see me pass by, to the many trainings I've completing for the sole reason of being ready on that very day.

Taking a bottle from Jamie I also realize what I suspected since a few miles: I've been following my eating plan, but drinking much less than anticipated. It didn't use to be a problem in recent races, but with the stomach in pain I might have overlooked that until km 80. 2h36 and some seconds on the first lap, no need to go faster anyways.

I'm getting better at reading those signs I believe, and start to slow down slightly, anticipating some bad times ahead. While the head was especially good at shutting down the stomach pain, the legs are more pushy when they ask for some relief. Along the lake some wind has come up as well, and I tend to get out of the bars here or there in the tiny little climbs. Come on JC, drop low and show the world your nice new CdA of the latest trainings.

Flying through Mythenquai.

I'm actually happy once in Hombrechtikon. I can start climbing. Philip is there as a nice surprise. The first two age groupers as well as PRO women overtake me in close drafting pack, even forcing me to pull on the brakes when they steer to the right of the road nearly in my front wheel. The referee is apparently more concerned of me getting in the group than the others riding together. Whatever. They're in a different race. I've been doing a solo ride for 100k now.

In the climb 20k later I'll catch some of them again, despite not holding up on the pace of the first round. It's tough out here, and the pace in Forch is somewhat slower but still anticipating a sub5 bike ride.

The part along the lake from Küsnacht to the finish line is longer than I wished, and the power meter showing smaller numbers than I want to read. The marathon won't be a honeymoon; it wasn't planned to be. 5h00 on the bike, just a few minutes slower than I wished, the 3h marathon would be a perfect sub9.


But I know that hoping for a 3h marathon in those conditions is utopic. I don't have the energy, and the heat is too oppressive. I'll get a quick glimpse at the watch km 1 and 2, and stop looking at it afterwards. I'm not here for a time any longer; I'm here to finish that fight. Show them I am stronger than the pain, and prove to myself that even if the day wasn't perfect, it isn't that bad either (sometimes I am more proud of not fading too much in bad situations than the top speed on an ideal day). As Sophie said a week before, “your bad day would only be a slower marathon”.

Run start
Run start.

Similar to Frankfurt, running instead of biking is a nice change of gears, and I have some enjoyable kilometers (not many) before signs of critical emptiness of the energy tank show again. Contrary to Frankfurt I eat, and eat a lot. Because I've learnt in Ironman that you can barely eat enough, and probably not too much, on the marathon. So I swallow 7 gels and other snacks in the first half marathon. Not because I wanted to, but because I could. The pace is not getting faster, but at least I'm not bonking. It also keeps me hopeful that the end will turn out ok, that I'll run my plan eventually, at least for part of it. Iso and ice very often, water always, bouillon once, even a banana piece as well as a quarter of an apricot. Whatever fits the bill of being easily grabbed while running through an aid station and doesn't sound disgusting (redbull I'm looking at you).

Km 13 at Bürkli platz, I'm in autopilotmode. Going past the Samaritan tent, two of them get up, grab a bike and start to ride next to me. Oh shit, I must look like hell. Never mind, as long as you keep running it'll be fine. They can't force me to stop if I'm running. The little climb along Rennweg was unexpected on the first lap but works better on the next ones, the uneven ground on Chinawiese still as painful, the sun just as hot. But I got a third done, who thought it'd go by so fast (ok not that fast, but somehow it could be worse). Instead of smiling or not responding I start telling everyone how much it hurts, and “I wouldn't recommend this”. Once again being in Zürich is amazing, and I couldn't imagine doing it without the many friends along the road. You guys have done an amazing job at cheering me up. Even Philip tricking me into thinking top20 is an amazing position while nearly all behind 22nd had given up already. Even Gio telling me the podium was few seconds ahead when he knew perfectly they had just lapped me. Even the many who told me my cadence looked good.

Getting lapped
Getting lapped.

At this point I also tell PA and Phil how I needed to throw up early morning, it all sounds so far away right now. The plantar is a bit hurting but definitely not the limiting factor. Jamie seems to be in pain for me when Gianna hands me the Hot Shot. Now I'm sure I'll finish, and it seems somewhere between 9h15 and 9h30. That's more than the 8h50-9h15 window I allowed myself going into the race, but that is what it is.

RW starts playing “catch me if you can” with me, overtaking me twice and me overtaking him twice as well. While he wants to wait for me when I am in pain, I advise him to race his own race. And internally thinks he could run a 3h marathon, or maybe he would just hit the wall. The line is sometimes very thin. Joanna is always smiling and cheering on, but I don't really ever answer, my apologies.

Just keep running.

I pick up the pace again, slow down a tiny bit, before finally running properly the last stretch. It's a weird feeling missing your objective, but carrying home the best your body had to give on race day. On the one hand I cannot be too disappointed, because there wasn't more than 10min to go grab in that particular shape on that particular day. On the other hand, I believe I could do better in a day like Rapperswil, and am somewhat eager to show it. The carpet is also more of a relief, coming back from a battle without losing, rather than the magical feeling of Frankfurt.

I'm also very happy for Silvan and Joanna grabbing their Kona slots moments later. Have this feeling of not wanting to do anything but still hurting even just lying down for a few hours, I didn't miss that. Muscle soreness is bad; not quite as much as last year, but my second worst ever. I lost 3.2kg during the day, and as in Frankfurt badly need a very warm shower at the finish garden (despite the outside heat). It's like a fever, even coughing in the first hour. Sleep and eating habits heavily perturbed for the next two days.

Finish line
Finish line, not quite a party.

It takes me a while to actually ask and get told I ran a 9h20, and finished 18th PRO (28 at the start line). I wished for a top 15, for that we'll have to try again. I would also have easily grabbed a Kona slot as an AG, but I don't regret the choice of starting as a PRO (while many people seemed to question that). I got my own empty streets, no drafting problems (though some may have been riding as packs in front), my own race. It's my result, and I'll have to learn from it in order to grow stronger. There's probably going to be a next one, but I don't know when.

Finally, once again, thank you to everyone in Zürich or away, sending messages, cheering, shouting, watching, tracking, providing the little extra motivation to dig deep. You are the best!

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Chapeau, belle gestion de course!
par Josué le 07-08-2018 à 09:46

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Ironman Zürich en PRO

Après une grosse première année sur distance ironman complète et le sub-9 atteint à Francfort ainsi qu'une place d'honneur sur la tribune à Hawaii, il est difficile d'augmenter les objectifs... Quoique ? Pourquoi pas essayer en pro ? nous sommes-nous lancé comme défi avec Jean-Claude. Loin de la réalité des professionnels qui font ça comme job, l'idée est de courir contre eux en partant en même temps dans les mêmes conditions et voir ce que cela peut bien donner. L'objectif est donc toujours sous les 9h, avec cette impression bizarre qu'il faut expliquer sans cesse à tout le monde qu'il sera plus difficile à atteindre que l'année dernière de part un parcours vélo plus bosselé et une natation probablement sans combinaison néoprène.

La préparation se passe néanmoins plutôt bien. Devoir faire la dernière semaine menant à la course en cours de répétition ne me réjouit pas spécialement, mais je n'ai malgré tout pas le stress d'avant Francfort et arrive relativement confiant en mes capacités à finir comme il faut cette journée de sport (non pas la marche interminable de lenteur dont tous les soldats se sont plaints au militaire, je parle bien de ma journée de sport). En plus, dans la tête c'est une équation facile, <9h = <1h (nat+2xtransition) + <5h (vélo) + <3h (càp), et dans l'exécution ça devrait aller de facile à modeste à ambitieux.

Comme un poisson dans l'eau

IM Switzerland 2018 - swim start
Line-up PRO.

Si on me demande ce que je préfère sur un ironman, c'est sans aucun doute la natation. Se lever à 4h pour s'enfiler des tartines de miel et un müseli, bof, bof. Mais une petite heure dans une eau tiède pour mettre en route la machine, là je dis oui. Vu le nombre restreint de pros sur la ligne de départ, il n'y a même pas de crainte de bousculade. Je me mets tranquille en deuxième ligne, m'attendant à dépasser quelques-uns des plus stressés devant. Ça ne manque pas, je reste debout un peu plus longtemps en marchant plutôt que de nager et il me semble déjà trouver une bonne paire de pieds. Suivre les bulles sans réfléchir est l'objectif. Le rythme est bon, sans forcer mais sans être trop lent pour que je ne veuille passer devant. Les bouées s'enchainent et le canoë meneur d'allure ne semble pas s'éloigner. Peu à peu je comprends que je suis en queue du groupe de tête, easy peasy, la journée commence bien. Mis à part 50m après la troisième bouée où mon pilote décide de laisser partir le groupe et je fais l'effort pour combler, toute la natation se passe dans un calme et une platitude presque anormaux.

IM Switzerland 2018 - swim start
Départ PRO.
IM Switzerland 2018 - bike J-C
Jean-Claude en montant sur le vélo.

Sortie de l'eau direction les sacs de T1 dans les pieds de Jan Van Berkel et autres Sven Riederer, petit coup d'œil à la montre qui indique 50' et pas grand-chose. Bon ben, ça c'est fait, et avec déjà 3 minutes de gagnées.

Des avions

IM Switzerland 2018 - bike D IM Switzerland 2018 - bike J-C IM Switzerland 2018 - bike D IM Switzerland 2018 - bike J-C

Pas de stress à la transition, je laisse partir ces avions de chasse qui m'accompagne. J'ai le niveau d'un pro ironman sur natation (est-ce un compliment?) mais certainement pas celui d'un über-biker. Selon les estimations à Jean-Claude, on devrait tenir les 250W moyens. Moi je crois plutôt à 260-265W, mais qu'importe, les brutes s'envolent même lorsque je suis au-dessus de 280W. Qu'importe, ça roule sur ce bord de lac et je tiens la forme, tout comme la moyenne qui oscille très peu entre 40 et 41km/h. Je m'envoie mes premiers gels et pousse allégrement sur les pédales. Je suis décidé dans la tête à suivre plus strictement que par le passé mon plan nutrition. Malheureusement, j'aurais dû être tout aussi consciencieux sur le plan puissance. Je me laisse emporter dans ma furie, dans le rythme des 300+W des Cameron Wurf ou Philip Koutny qui me dépassent en force, et à faire du pied de The Beast jusqu'à la descente de Küsnacht avec le groupe à Ronnie Schildknecht. Dans la descente et à la relance derrière, je me fais lâcher par le groupe quand bien même le compteur aura dépassé les 85km/h sur la partie raide interdite aux barres. Pas trop grave, même seul mon rythme est bon. Je regrette toutefois voir le groupe de tête drafter clairement à moins de 12m les uns des autres lorsque je les croise le long de Mythenquai. Je passe malgré tout Heartbreakhill avec le sourire et m'élance sur le deuxième tour après 2h20, soit une belle marge sur mon programme.

IM Switzerland 2018 - bike D IM Switzerland 2018 - bike J-C

L'expérience dicterait en général de conserver ses forces sur un ironman quand tout va bien plutôt que de forcer le rythme. Seul au monde sur ce deuxième tour, je commence à regarder le compteur plus régulièrement et avec des débuts de doutes. 100km parfaits, trop parfaits. 275W moyens, 275W qui sont pourtant désormais impossibles à tenir. Mais où sont passées mes jambes ? Cela résumera la grande majorité du deuxième tour, après 3h à 275W j'ai toutes les peines du monde à tenir les 220-230W et fais des grimaces à toutes les personnes que je connais au bord du parcours. Mes seules consolations sont les personnes que je dépasse et qui poussent leur vélo sur The Beast (sachant tout ce qu'il leur reste à faire, sans compter le deuxième tour) ou le fait de savoir que je peux perdre un gros quart d'heure sur mon tour et toujours être dans le plan.

Objectif sub-9 : possible, ambitieux, raté

IM Switzerland 2018 - Run D IM Switzerland 2018 - Run J-C
Course à pied dans le dur.

À la fin, mes 13 minutes je les aurai perdues. Malheureusement de précieuses forces aussi. L'objectif de 9h est toujours possible, mais il faut pour cela réussir la partie la plus optimiste de toute, soit un marathon en 3h sous cette chaleur et avec l'énergie restante. Je me force donc à partir trop tranquille sur le premier kilomètre, à manger ma gaufre et boire mon isostar tranquillement. La montre indique 4'40 alors qu'il me faut tenir du 4'16/km. Qu'importe, maintenant que je suis lancé, je peux prendre gentiment le bon rythme. Il ne me faudra pas beaucoup de temps pour que ce soit chose faite, bien que les sensations ne soient pas là. J'ai le mauvais pressentiment que je ne tiendrai pas 42km à ce rythme. Je boucle pourtant le premier tour en 45'40, soit à peine trop lent. Le style n'y est certainement pas, et si on dit que la course ne doit commencer qu'à partir du semi, la mienne est en route depuis un moment. Suite à une mauvaise manipulation de la montre (arrêt plutôt que lap en fin de premier tour), je ne sais pas exactement mon temps au deuxième tour, mais mes calculs rapides me disent que je perds gentiment du terrain. Pas trop trop grave par rapport au terrain que je perdrai par la suite dans le troisième tour, ou, pire encore, dans le quatrième où je sers les dents pour continuer à courir. Les encouragements des nombreux supporters ne suffiront pas pour me faire tenir le rythme nécessaire. Les 3h sont loin depuis longtemps et avec 10km restants je comprends que les 9h le sont également. Je m'interdis de marcher entre les ravitaillements. Ainsi, je ne m'arrête « que » 4 fois dans ce dernier tour pour du coca (contre aucune pause marche jusque-là). Quant à ma course, c'est plus pour la forme, me sentant dandiner, piétiner et regarder par terre.

Content mais juste pas complétement satisfait

IM Switzerland 2018 - Finish D
Enfin fini!

Au final, je franchis la ligne après un peu plus de 9h (j'ai longtemps cru en 9h03, alors que mon temps est de 9h04'31), les bras levés, content malgré tout de ma performance. 14e pro et 15e overall, c'est un beau résultat et une belle confirmation de ce que je pensais pouvoir faire. Avoir voulu jouer dans la cour des pros et me battre contre eux sur 100km de vélo m'a certainement coûté ce sub-9 qui m'aurait entièrement satisfait et ce détail me laisse un goût amer. À la longue, cela restera sûrement un détail ou une leçon apprise. Après combien de temps, ou quelle autre expérience sur la distance (et quand ?) restent des questions qui obtiendront réponse ces prochains jours durant la phase de récupération. Pour l'instant, il s'agit de récupérer des jambes et des muscles potables, et remercier naturellement les nombreux supporters tout au long du parcours. Courir à Zürich a vraiment été formidable de ce point de vue-là, comme si tout le monde nous connaissait et nous encourageait. Et je le remarque, même quand je ferme les yeux, regarde par terre et sers les dents pour avancer !

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Bravo, grosse course!
par Josué le 07-08-2018 à 10:54

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Zytturm triathlon

Post-Rappi recovery

One week to recover; all we decided to give our poor legs after their remarkable performance at the 70.3 in Rapperswil. It’s not much, but somehow it should be enough for an Olympic in Zug. Or so were our thoughts a few months before hand while making our registrations. In reality, the week passed by rather quickly, and if I was mentally prepared to race again, it wasn’t always obvious I would be physically able to. On Monday for instance, my left Achilles tendon was hurting so much I feared I might have to DNF after the bike. Tuesday and Wednesday were much better, and then Thursday relatively bad again. Whatever, my wish is to go full-out on the bike and be FAST for once; running and overall performance is not my first priority – not matter how odd it may seem, this was actually my state of mind.

Professional with amateur mistakes

Coming into race-week and race-day like this has both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, I didn’t feel any stress or pressure to run on my tendon to “make last-minute tune-ups” for instance. On the other hand, I just plain forgot to take my swim skin with me until they announced at the check-in that the wetsuit was forbidden. Hum, ups. I am usually happy when this happens, but I really didn’t expect it in June in Zug. I guess that won’t be too bad on 1.5k swim, my quick estimation being around 20s lost (2s/100m difference, or 30s, minus 10s to remove it). Nevertheless, I still believe I have my chances to be the first out of the water and ride my own pace at the beginning of the bike course. My hope is to be at the front during the first half at least, and just have to hold on to someone overtaking me in the second half. I know it won’t be easy with guys like Ronnie, Fabian, Jean-Claude, with possibly some of them riding close together.

2018 Zug swim
Swim exit (© photo Swisstriathlon).

To make this happen, I have to pull out a good swim. And sadly it doesn’t start all too well. My arms simply don’t want to sprint at the gun. Jean-Claude is on my right, Fabian on my left, and I struggle to maintain their rhythm. Slowly but surely this sensation goes away and I can switch to the second gear to join Jan Tahlmann. The first buoy is approaching and what seems to be a large group is not too far on the right. Just before the turn, I can finally take the lead and begin to feel my strokes pushing against the water the way I’m used to. Mentally, I want to make up for this missed start, pushing stronger and stronger. A few hundred meters go by before I get back to my normal pace. Now, all I have to do is follow the leading kayak to the finish arch. Not a great swim, definitely not the same sensations as in Rapperswil, but not a bad swim after all.

Aero is fast

Push, push, push. It seems that I only have this in mind as soon as I jump on the saddle. I know perfectly that I have some aerodynamic gains to confirm today and don’t need to hold back anything for the run.  As such, I launch myself in an endless, and mostly lost, pursuit after the motorbike. My head stays fixed on the Edge much more than the scenery without worrying too much about the constantly above 300W power numbers. I have to, right?

Well, on the bright side, it seems that at least Jan didn’t try to follow me. On the less bright one, my quads start hurting after 10k already. “It’s only a quarter of the race”, I think at first. Actually, it’s already a quarter of the race! Keep pushing, keep pushing, keep pushing. The moto didn’t change that much from the beginning. I only have a bit more often the impression that I hear someone overtaking me.

2018 Zug bike
Aero position. The only problem is that you don't see where you go.

The rest of the ride is nothing very interesting. I’m still fighting the same, quads saying I’m crazy, head answering she doesn’t care. Mostly, it’s a big win, for the head as well as for the performance. Aggressive like hardly ever before, both in the position and the pace, I am very happy to get to the transition after less than 55’ (42.7km/h) and still leading alone.

Run as you can

2018 Zug run
Beginning of the run.

Running was the uncertain part. First, I have a tendon that has shown to be difficult in the past weeks, and second, the quads have already given most of what they had on the bike. Still, with one to two minutes in T2, I should be able to run at my pace and not get too much into troubles. Let’s say, I run a 35’, that would mean Jean-Claude or whoever is with him should run below 33’. If there’s Ronnie, it’s actually possible. 35’ is safe though? Thankfully, all these thoughts don’t bother me all too long and I get into my flow. I prefer not to look at my watch however, not quite sure I am running what it feels like, especially knowing that I roll my foot a bit more than usually. The more the kilometers go by, the more confident I feel. It is hard, but there is something in me wanting to believe I can make it and I could even sprint, would anyone catch up with me. Between marks 8 and 9, I have my small down-moment with breathing getting suddenly more difficult. That little snag is thankfully nothing to worry about and I feel like rushing towards the finish line, happy like a kid.

2018 Zug finish
Finish line (© photo Swisstriathlon).
2018 Zug post-finish
With Jean-Claude at the finish.

After a quick chat with Cendrine, Jean-Claude is already here, taking the second place by a short margin on Jan and Fabian. He doesn’t look good by the way he runs and shivers lying on the ground shortly after. The job is nevertheless done, and quite nicely. I did what I wanted to and am happy that the legs responded the way I hoped. What makes me the most proud is that performance at both Rappi and Zug followed the plan I had in mind – even though I must confess, beating Ronnie was more a dream than a plan, comparing times with different start is always perilous though.  If the tendon recovers fully, which I hope by giving it some time with less running, I can focus on Zurich with high confidence.

2018 Zug podium

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Ironman 70.3 Rapperswil

Un récit en anglais pour une fois, car de plus en plus de non-francophones partagent nos aventures sportives...

2017 was a season that went on like a rollercoaster of emotions: getting a stress fracture roughly 2 months before my first ironman, giving up in the first few kilometers of biking at the half in Doussard, showing a great race in Frankfurt despite less than 50km of training in those last 8 weeks, missing the Kona spot for seconds, and dealing with the aftermath of the injury for the rest of the year.

While I grew in experience, hope is that 2018 will turn out more consistent. The season on the road started well with races over 10km to marathon as pacers, and I was eager to get on the start line of the first triathlon. A repeat of 2016 in a way, going with David to Rapperswil for the 70.3. Of course comes directly the questions of the sort: How well do I compare? Am I still improving? I am aiming at 4h10, which should both guarantee the safety of my PRO license (need to finish one race less than 10% behind the leader), and show some >5min gain.


Checking-in to an Ironman-branded race is always an experience, and one that I tend to like short and expedited (unneeded stress and walking around before race day). But it is also the occasion of meeting lots of familiar faces, sharing doubts and goals, getting our first long distance PRO briefing, and letting the Rocket Baby alone for its first night out (yes the Canyon got a nickname).

On race evening after the pasta we manage to stay up until 9pm (definitely longer than 2016) and wake up at 4.50am at the first slight beep of the alarm. I had a good night sleep, the first two bread slices go down easily (clearly not always the case on a race morning), only have to fight with the third. In the car some discussions can be heard. All clear signs that the confidence is way higher than two years ago.

Once parked at the PRO area right at the transition zone we pump the tires, notice that my shoes are wet from the overnight rain (maybe should start listening to Jamie), put some talc in for a nice comfy baby paste feeling on the feet... I also glue some bonbons to the frame, fill the front water bottle, check the blue and red bags and slowly move towards the start area.

With Imo and David we start a small jog, which we follow by some swimming in the over-crowded Lido. Once on the start line the pressure is definitely present, lots of big names surrounding us. Water is relatively warm, somehow I wished it was non-wetsuit swim.


90 seconds before the start we are allowed in via the steep ramp to the canoe. And then sure enough as an ex-junior I react the fastest (at least of all my direct neighbors) and swim fast and straight for 50m (must be a reflex kinda thing). The level in the PRO is not quite the one on a standard circuit race, such that I am not extracted in the front but in the middle of the pack after such a start. And the guys around are not slowing down.

I let a few go by, and try to catch the feet of the last one at the back. Slightly above my threshold, but I hang on for a while. No need to sight, no other thing to worry about than the last bubbles from what seems to be a big group. At some point another guy pushes a bit to get in the bubbles (which I later learn it is Boris Stein).

I decide to let him go and get his feet, but moments later he gets lost, and I miss the connection to the feet in front of me. We’re about 800m in right now, and from then on I’m on my own. Sighting required again, slowly but surely loosing time on the front group. U-turn arrives, and somehow I wonder whether I am in the last few. I switch from 6-beat kick to a more conservative 2-beat, and get from overdrive to stay in touch into gliding mode. The race is still long.

Not much else to say from the way back. A rather long but not eventful straight back. Slightly drifting towards the left, maybe some water current?

2018 Rappi Daniel swim exit
Daniel in the group led by Ruedi Wild at the swim exit.

I fear a bit the sight at the watch at the swim exit, but the excitation from many people shouting my name and a 25:xx glimpsed on the screen reassures me. I try to open the wetsuit zipper the wrong way, but thankfully the running to T1 is long enough that I still manage easily in time, and even get a glass of water on the way.


I pick my blue bag. Oops no actually that’s #43 and I am #42… Put it back and get the right one. On the plus side it means I am not last out of the water. Boris Stein is with me in the tent, and Ronnie Schildknecht enters it as I get out. Let’s see how long I can keep them behind.

2018 Rappi J-C T1
T1 for Jean-Claude.

Get the bike, jump onto it (not very nicely, first time on the Canyon) and start riding. As I put on the shoes, Boris is already way ahead. I catch him nevertheless as I am already riding in position while he puts his own shoes. A kilometer later he passes me at a speed I don’t even try to match, and watch him disappear in the distance.

Somehow my bike feels a bit flabby, I even wonder if I got a flat. I am moved around and not stable on the saddle, not really pushing as many watts as I planned to. The legs are hurting a bit. Nevertheless speed looks ok, ”just get in your own rhythm”. It’s a nice feeling to be alone on the road, not having to pay attention to huge packs. Along the lake someone catches me again, seems to be Fabian Dutli. Didn’t expect him to be so close after the swim. We start Witch’s Hill together as motorbikes come from the back. Surely it must be Ronnie. But the speaker announces Daniela Ryf! Damn she’s fast.

On the climb I am still the fastest, but in the small flat before the Beast they pass me. I would like to go again in the steep portions (how come they push so much in the flat but not in the climbs?), but now the cameramen and referees are blocking the way. Easy, drink a bit, spin the legs, Daniela’s pace cannot be that bad. That’ll go until Goldingen, but as soon as the descent begins they push much more than I feel confident to (despite having made much progress since 2016).

To David who asked for a summary of Daniela’s ass: like a Christmas holiday… nice but goes by way too fast.

2018 Rappi J-C bike
Jean-Claude between the Beast and Goldingen.

I get some rest deep in aero position, and ride the way down on my own. The position on the bike fits much better now than it did on the flat at the beginning. The last portion with steep curves (which weren’t as sharp as in my souvenirs) is still wet, and I take zero risk there, preferring to lose a few seconds than to taste the tarmac. We’re back along the lake, and I ride almost exactly 300W back. Seems like I get to drag a few PRO colleagues, I am just happy they don’t pass, it means I finally ride properly.

At the roundabout we get mixed with AGs, another PRO wants to get into an altercation with me because of how we get access to the aid station, forces me to brake in the middle of an intersection. Have to avoid an ambulance as well. Less stable riding, including a few power spikes (once to 600W, 3 to 400W). Happy to get back into pace once outside of Rappi, let the other PROs go first, and while I forgot to check the pace it seems like I am well underway to beat my 2016 time. Now it’s mostly in 3rd or 4th row, overtaking people that are overtaking even slower ones. Gives a feeling of speed.

Witch’s hill arrives again, I slowly overtakes up to Golden all the PROs who passed me on the flat (definitely not written with a B this year). In the downhill I feel great. This year around passing many people instead of the opposite. Only have to be careful in the turns as AGs tend to brake a lot more than I would. Even the wet sections seem to have some dry patches.

2018 Rappi J-C bike
Jean-Claude in the descent.

Final stretch along the lake I slowly decrease my effort from 300W to 270W while eating a bit and preparing the half marathon. Not sure if I pushed a bit too much, but I am still confident on my running capabilities.


Having racked my bike the way you’re not supposed to but everyone else did (that is, not facing you), I get to the tent and take my time to get my gels out, my bottle, remove my goggles, put on a visor, and check that the shoes are nicely in. Ok now you’re just loosing time, get out of there!

I start my run by getting a gel in, drinking my own iso, dumping everything at the water station and getting into pace. Quick look at the watch, 3’50, still settling in. A bit later we’re at 3’40, definitely DO NOT accelerate. One last look at around 1.5km, we’re still good. Pace feels great, almost too easy. Like a marathon, should feel slow until at least a fourth of the race. Especially by this heat.

Every station I get sponges, water, iso (if available), ice (every other station), water, sponges. Soon enough my feet are floating in a lake, but that’s no big deal. Keeping the temperature down is essential. No man in sight in front, but no direct concurrent around me either. I see Imo isn’t so far at the end of the bike, hopefully she doesn’t catch me!

2018 Rappi Daniel run

2018 Rappi J-C run
Daniel and Jean-Claude on the Stairway to Heaven.

Another gel at 6k already, get used to eat more. It smells like petits fours along the train rails, but I am stuck with iso gels… Through the city for the first time, ambitiously jump stairs three by three. Well at first, soon it’s two by two and at the last set I get a cramp and tell myself: “You can’t stop now that everyone is watching and you started so good”. So I get to the top like there’s nothing to see. And then I run the down ramp, because it’s a different setting, and my body shouldn’t believe it is allowed to stop nor cramp on a road. It could happen again, but I convince my leg that the next possible occasion is in 10km, once we get back to the stairs. I like how mental games work sometimes.

I hate the underpass because of the sharp corner that are painful for my fascia latia, but otherwise all is good underway. Somehow we’re already halfway in pace for sub 1h20, and nothing to report. Another gel at half mark. The heat is more and more noticeable, but I am not as bothered as I have been in the past. People seem to be catching me from the back, but I still have some resources to keep them behind. I also catch slowly 3-4 concurrents, including Fabian Dutli and Adrian Haller. Second stairs climb goes surprisingly better than the first, and the perfect songs is playing in the city: “I’m not afraid anymore”. Probably the best summary of my race: for the first time I wasn’t afraid of the distance anymore. Same thing that happened after racing my first half and going back to Olympic distance, I think I learnt a lot from the Frankfurt experience. There might be non-ideal portions of the race, but there are no setbacks I can’t handle.

2018 Rappi Daniel run

2018 Rappi J-C run
Daniel and Jean-Claude on the second lap.

Still one man in front, 1k to go. He’s turning around, he must be tired. I push until I pass him and directly look at the one ahead. It’ll be though but that could be a sprint line finish … unless he goes on for another loop!

Very happy I cross the line in 4h08, a good 11 minutes faster than 2016 (similar swim, 7min faster bike, 4min faster run). 11th PRO out of the 30ish on the start line is also well above expectations. 19min back from Josh Amberger confirms my PRO license easily. All is well, I am cramping from both legs but so proud of the results that I actually want to start racing again very soon!

A big thank you to all the familiar faces along the road, you are the reason we decided to race in Zurich this year. The race feeling was truly amazing!

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20km de Lausanne

Avec le printemps, l’arrivée des premières chaleurs, des pollens, et l’approche de la saison de compétitions, il est aussi temps des 20km de Lausanne. Premier test réel de ma forme, qui me semble être au point. Tout de moins à pied, sur le vélo après un Porrentruy bien rodé il me semble avoir plus de peine les semaines suivantes, m’habituant plus gentiment que prévu au nouveau vélo également.

Ayant bien récupéré du marathon à Rotterdam, Daniel enchaîne gaiment avec 36km en marge de celui de Zürich deux semaines plus tard. Ce qui m’impressionne le plus, c’est sa capacité à supporter des longs efforts à ce rythme ironman, en étant prévenu que dix minutes auparavant. Quant à moi, souvent de la fatigue (couplé au rhume et les yeux qui piquent de saison), mais une belle forme pour la série sur piste mardi dernier (5x1000m en 3’02 de moyenne, 3x800m pareil derrière). J’y saute la fin, de peur de me blesser à la même période que l’an dernier, et avec une douleur sous l’arche plantaire, dont le fascia est légèrement enflammé. Fin de semaine en récup et on verra ce que ça donne.

Pour la course, je suis plus conservateur que les années précédentes et décide de porter mes « lourdes ». Quitte à perdre quelques secondes dans les montées, je préfère éviter trop les chocs pour mes articulations. A l’échauffement il fait bien chaud mais je suis relativement à l’aise. Daniel parsème le chemin vers le départ de blagues, il doit être en forme. Beaucoup de têtes connues comme d’habitude, je me faufile vers la tête du peloton malgré mon dossard violet du bloc 8. Pas de point pour passer devant, mais je me retrouve bien placé juste derrière les deux africains. Le départ n’est pas décompté, ni vraiment très clair, ça se regarde une fraction de seconde avant de partir.

Jean-Claude sur l'avenue de Cour

Devant c’est un départ rapide à mon goût (ou plutôt je devrais dire un départ que j’aurais fait il y a quelques années, mais cette fois je me suis promis d’être sage). Laura Hrebec juste à côté, décidemment je ne suis pas trop vite pour une fois. Devant les deux africains sont déjà seuls au monde, un petit groupe se forme autour de Daniel et François Leboeuf notamment. Il ne semble pas aller trop vite, et je suis un peu seul intercalé au km 1. Puis sans accélérer je remonte gentiment et vais me placer dans les pieds de François qui discute avec Jérémy. Petit train régulier autour des 3’15-3’20/km le long du musée olympique. C’est beau d’être dans le groupe des meilleurs suisses !

Daniel sur l'avenue de Cour

Le joli plat ne dure malheureusement pas long à Lausanne, et sur Denantou les amarres sont larguées. Un groupe de 4 coureurs de montagnes s’échappe, Daniel s’accroche en 5e, je laisse partir tranquillement. Trop lourd par rapport à ces petits cabris valaisans. Le premier ravito arrive vers Montchoisi. Il ne fait pas encore trop chaud, mais je dirais pas non à quelques nuages. Retour sur du terrain plus plat vers la place Milan et l’avenue de Cour, je relance bien (contrairement à certaines années où ça devenait déjà plus difficile). Redescente vers la Maladière, on remet les compteurs de déniv à zéro. Daniel n’est finalement pas loin devant, l’écart depuis Denantou n’a pas changé. Je monte bien ces premiers béquets et me rapproche même pas à pas.

Jean-Claude km 7

Place Milan, ravito suivant, je prends un point au ventre et doit serrer les dents dans les montées. 4km à plus de 4min/km à cause des raidillons du passage des voies, de Tivoli, et de la rue de Bourg jusqu’à la cathé. Partie difficile, le soleil tape, les jambes se raidissent. Perdu quelques places, mais faut dire que j’ai fait aucune série en montée cette année, et j’ai pas forcément le gabarit de ceux qui me dépasse. On se motive, y’a du monde en ville, dont pas mal de têtes connues, et après ça descend !

Serrer les dents sur Tivoli (Jean-Claude)

A la Riponne petit détour ajouté cette année pour arriver à 20km pour de vrai. Pas un cadeau, ça comprend une épingle à la rue de l’Ale et le tour de la place Palud. Enfin je retrouve des couleurs à la sortie du Flon, reprend deux positions dans le début de la descente. Je croise Kristina qui semble avoir de l’énergie à revendre pour un gros encouragement (désolé de pas avoir répondu). Mon pied tire un poil, et mon compteur énergétique est plutôt vide dans la « terreur des 20km », les infâmes kilomètres du parc Bourget une fois être passé juste devant l’arrivée.

Daniel est toujours à une trentaine de secondes devant. Je ne l’aurai pas cette fois, mais j’ai fait une belle course. Plus de peine dans les montées, mais bien régulier sinon et digne de ma forme du moment. 14e place selon les résultats officiels, j’avais dit viser minimum un top 20, le top 10 étant éventuellement jouable. Niveau chronométrique tout le monde a payé les détours ajoutés. 1h13.18 c’est un peu plus qu’escomptés, mais tout à fait honnête. Plaisir de se regrouper avec la troupe du Rushteam à l’arrivée ainsi que le soir à une gigantesque lasagnes-party.  Le décrassage sera l’après-midi à jouer au loup et courater sur les bords du lac avec les cousins…

Finish Jean-Claude

Le Rushteam après l'arrivée

Vidéo de la Migros (Daniel)
Vidéo de la Migros (Jean-Claude)

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