HE had moments when he doubted if he would finish, but Bathurst triathlete Luke Gillmer went on to cover the entire Ironman World Championships course in Kona in less than 10 hours.
The annual event in Hawaii attracts the best triathletes in the world, with competitors facing a 3.86 kilometre swim, 180.25km cycle and 42.2km run.
Gillmer attended for the first time when it was staged earlier this month and clocked a time of nine hours, 51 minutes and 18 seconds.
“I was confident that I could beat 10 hours, but now being there and knowing the heat and the conditions, I realise beating that mark is a much bigger task,” Gillmer said.
On the start line for the swim, Gillmer quickly learned the front line was not the place to be.
“Before it even started it was like a water polo match, people were kicking me under water and grabbing me,” he said.
So Gillmer moved further back to avoid the grappling. It was a move that paid off as he clocked the 10th fastest split in his 30-34 years male division for the swim – a 53:26.
That gave Gillmer confidence heading into the cycle leg, but as he got further away from the ocean, the heat intensified and the wind picked up.
“Heading into the cycle I had my numbers for my speed and power targets and 30 kays into it I was feeling great,” he said.
“But then the heat really started cranking up and my numbers started to drop and people were slowly passing me. After feeling really positive at the start, I was wondering how I was going to get through. A couple of times I thought to myself ‘I’m going to pull over and stop’, but I didn’t, I kept going.
“With 30 kays to go things turned around – my legs were back, my motivation was back, my energy levels were up. I felt great which was good, otherwise I don’t know how I would’ve got through the run.”
Gillmer enjoyed the finish to his cycle leg, clocking a split of 5:10.45. He knew at that stage he was out of contention for a podium in his division, so made his goal to finish the race in under 10 hours.
He did it by breaking the marathon distance run down into 2km increments between each drink station where he refuelled.
But as the finish line loomed, Gillmer again struck trouble.
“With about 10 kays to go I came out of what they call the energy lab and I nearly passed out. All of a sudden something went wrong with my body, I was stumbling side to to side and thought I was going to have to have a sleep,” he said.
But Gillmer pushed on and made it to the finish, his run leg of 3.39.38 seeing him place 82nd in his division.
Meanwhile, fellow Bathurst triathlete Terry Roberts was classified as a finisher at Kona for an impressive sixth time.
Roberts may not have been able to better his 2013 personal best of 10:44.24, but was still happy to reach the finish line in 11:25.58.
That effort saw Roberts place 99th in his 50-54 years male age division, while he also played a role in helping debutant Gillmer.
“Terry is great to spend time with … he’s got a lot of knowledge and I was so lucky to have him at worlds with me,” Gillmer said.