Triathlete Chris Wallace represents the epitome of high performance. At Ed App, we’re extremely proud to have him as our first Ed Performance Team Ambassador – someone who represents our ‘Driven to high performance in business’ ethos. Next week, Chris will face one of the most gruelling challenges any athlete can endure, the Iron Man World championships in Kona, Hawaii and we’ll be supporting him.
Most people think of Hawaii as a dream holiday destination. But for two-and-a-half thousand competitors, it represents a special kind of Hell: a 2.4-mile rough-water swim, 112 miles of Bike Race and the 26.2-mile Marathon – all rolled into one! Temperatures hit 95oF (35oC) and the winners take eight hours to finish!
We caught up with Chris to find out his thoughts on the race plus how his training was going…
What do you think makes The Kona Ironman such an iconic event?
I think it’s a combination of both the history and the conditions of the race itself. It stems all the way back to 1978 when a group of 15 athletes challenged each other to prove who was the fittest swimmer, cyclist and runner. Since then, there have been so many iconic and incredible athletes, from the Iron War duo, Mark Allen and Dave Scott to Chrissie Wellington who won four Ironman titles – after only taking up the sport professionally at 30!
The course itself is both stunning and brutal at the same time. The swim course is amazing; starting in Kailua pier and taking you through turquoise water and the beautiful reef. Next is the brutal bike ride through cross winds and sweltering temperatures of the lava fields of Kona. Finally, there’s a marathon in the Hawaiian sun. The challenge of the race is not just about managing the distances but also the conditions.
Two weeks out! How is preparation going? How do you feel?
Training’s been going well. I tend to find shorter taper [training workload before a race] works for me so, I’ll keep training hard up until about 10 days before the event; maintaining the intensity but gradually reducing the volume. The main thing is that (touch wood) I’ve managed to stay illness and injury free. Hopefully that carries on to race day!
Do you have a favourite Kona moment you have witnessed?
I think my favourite Kona moment would have been last year’s race when Patrick Lange overtook Lionel Sanders in the final stretches of the marathon. The contrast between the grimacing and limping Sanders and the smooth and fluid Lange summed up how the race is decided by who shows the most respect to the course conditions and best adapts their approach and pacing to it.
What is your current personal best for Ironman? Do you think you can PB in Kona given the conditions?
My current PB is 10 hours 17mins at the Wales event last year. However, my training’s been going well and having managed Four hours 10 minutes at the Mooloolaba 70.3 (Half-Ironman) in August, I’m feeling confident and believe I can execute a PB on race day if I’m patient and respect the conditions.
What will race morning look like?
I try and keep race morning as simple and stress-free as possible. I’ll usually be up three hours before race start, which will mean 3am. I’ll then have porridge and a coffee and then a stroll to the start to load the bike with nutrition, pump the tyres, before a final few stretches before the swim.
Nutrition is a big part of Ironman, what’s your strategy?
Having suffered a lot with gastro-intestinal problems in past Ironmans, I think I’ve found a strategy which works for me. I tend to use an electrolyte-carbohydrate drink called Tailwind plus Cliff-Bars on the bike, before switching to flat coke (I find the simple sugar/caffeine mix works for me) together with Cliff Bloks energy chews on the run. I’ve also started using salt tablets to ensure I keep my sodium and electrolyte levels topped up in the heat as I’m a heavy sweater.
You run blindingly fast. Is it true you beat a lot of pro Ironman athletes on the run in your qualifier in Wales?
Ha, I think I beat a few of them. Hopefully I can stay closer to them on the swim and bike in Kona!
Which leg are you most looking forward to?
I think the swim will be incredible with the scenery and spectators! However, I’m hoping that if I can keep on top of my race plan and nutrition and my body copes with the heat, the run is where I’ll really be able to excel. The thought of finishing strong down Ali’I drive with all the spectators there has spurred me on throughout my training!
How can we track your progress?
Whats on the agenda post-race?
I’m looking forward to enjoying a few weeks recharging the batteries with easy bike rides, ocean swims and lots of time spent relaxing on the beach. But I’m sure I’ll be itching to start training again before too long.
All of us at Ed App wish Chris the best of luck!