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Race Results

4th place, age group M30-34, Kona qualification

3rd place, age group M30-34

3rd place, Finnish Championship

Winner, age group M30-34

2013 IRONMAN Kalmar
2nd place, age group M30-34, Kona qualification

Finisher in 9 hours 30 minutes

5th place, Finnish Championship

Winner, age group M30-34

More results here.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Ironman Mallorca 2014 Race Recap

Kona of Europe

My triathlon season reached its final on 27th of September in the same place where it also began in the spring. In Mallorca. This time it was a full Ironman on a demanding course. For me this race was an A-race and a significant part of the two year race plan I laid out at the start of this season. I was after one thing and that was qualification to Ironman Hawaii 2015. There were five slots on offer here.

Ironman is never easy, but I came to the island confident and feeling ready to race. I was hitting my power targets during the final build before the race and accumulated relatively good training hours after 70.3 Budapest. Since this year's Hawaii was only two weeks away, I believed that all the fastest athletes would be somewhere else and I would cruise to an age-group win while breaking 9 hours at the finish line...

Around 2500 athletes lined up for the start in the Bay of Alcúdia and I can assure you there wasn't any competitiveness missing from the field! They called this the Kona of Europe for a reason.


During the week we saw some thunderstorms, hard winds and rain battering the island, but on race day the conditions were typical Mallorca: calm sea, clear skies and temperatures that would rise to 25+ Celsius during the long day. 25+ was also the temperature of the Mediterranean ocean, calling for a non-wetsuit swim according to the race rules. Bummer! That was 5 minutes added to my race time right there even before the race had started. It was also going to be a mass start which meant some hard work fighting for space. Well, I don't do ironman racing because I want something easy. People play golf for that. I'm in it to conquer the challenges that the race day might present me.

And I did conquer the swim. One of my sub-goals was to break the hour in the swim and I managed to make a new PR of exactly an hour, without a wetsuit. Ok, to be honest, the course must have been a little short, maybe a hundred meters or so, because the times were quite fast across the board. I was happy anyway, and on schedule.

In the Peloton

In transition, I saw a fellow Finn, Janne Kallio, who's such a fast swimmer he had some extra time to hang around and change attire for the bike ride. Cycling is a fashionable man's sport after all. Once out of T1, I lost Janne somewhere in the sea of athletes because like in Kona, everyone seemed to be on the road already.
Normalized Power 252W, measured by my Garmin Vectors.

On the way to the first turnaround, Artà, passing was easy as the speed difference between me and the athletes on the right side was significant. But after the turnaround I found myself stuck in a pack of riders who were at a more similar level. Or, as it turned out later, who were riding above their ability, possibly without the aid of a powermeter, and faded soon after the halfway point. 

Now, I don't mean to rant on too much but I've got to say that some of these hotshots were with such a low level of racing moral, expressed as blatant drafting they were conducting. I mean a full on tire-to-tire drafting. And once you tried to keep the required ten meters between you and the rider in front, three of these cheats would instantly fill the gap. I lost it to a few of these "athletes" but they didn't seem to mind one angry guy with a funny accent. All we (me, Janne, Aku Oja and some Irish dude who all were now part of the same pack) could do was to try and drop the free riders.


At around 75km we started to really push the pace at the front. My power readings were significantly higher than they should have been on these mostly flat sections. I hoped our effort would pay us back because I sure burnt a match or two out there. By the time we left the coastline and Puerto Pollença behind and headed towards the Tramuntana Mountains, we had dropped most of the group. After that the roads were getting more quiet and gently sloping upwards before the big climb ahead of us. Our successful effort kept our spirits high and on our way up the side of the mountain, we had a few laughs between us Finns. The climb was over soon enough.

On the serpentine downhill it was every man for themselves. Somewhere along the way first Aku and then Janne had dropped back. In the final 30km I didn't see more than maybe five other riders. I had to be close to the front of the competition! On the last 10km section back to the coast there was a fair headwind and I started to really feel the effort of almost five hours in the saddle. Only a marathon to go!

Cold Shower

The final couple of kilometers before transition were alongside the run course and then it hit me. I saw tens and tens of athletes running already a good few kms into the marathon. And they were no pros either, indicated by their red race number tags. In the transition I saw about a hundred bikes racked. A hundred! What the...?! That was my Ice Bucket Challenge right there I tell you. I quickly shared my thoughts with Janne who had arrived to the T2 as well.

I was really going to need my run legs this time if I were to salvage my goal of Kona qualification. I knew there's an under 3 hour Ironman marathon in me somewhere and I had to dig it out. 4:15 per km it was then. 

Climbing the Ladder

At first, the pace felt deceivingly slow but with the experience of three previous Ironmans, I knew there's no such person who'd wish, once finished, he or she had ran faster early in the marathon. It will always get to you.

The kilometer marks kept on flowing past and I kept my pacing, working my way up the field. I also got some unexpected and valuable splits from the crowd. Thank you Taija and family Maisniemi! 21 km behind and another to go. My Garmin showed an encouraging half marathon time of 1:29. Right on schedule! Inside I was feeling it though. My legs were starting to get stiff and my hips dropping back.

After a few kms I heard that I was in the top ten in my age group. I did some math and knew there was a fair chance I could still run myself into the required top 5. I tried to stay positive and have energy from the amazing crowds. Wife and kids were once again also dragged to spectate this insane race and I had promised the girls we'd be going to Hawaii next year. Better make it then!

"Sixth at 32 km!" I heard Taija yelling. Only one guy to go but where is he? It's impossible to spot the people who are on the same lap and in the same age group from the 2000+ other athletes on the 4.5 loop course. 

My pace had fallen behind the schedule a bit but I just couldn't push it more. My hamstrings were showing some early warnings of possible cramps. Nice and easy, almost there! The others are on this same sufferfest as well. 
Run pacing started to fall after halfway. 

I managed to catch a few guys with the same yellow colored band as I had on my arm indicating we were on the final 6 km of the course. I just hoped they were in my age group. I made the final turns to the beach boulevard for the last 3 km. I felt I had this in my bag. At maybe one kilometer to go I heard relieving news: I was fourth at 40 km with a 3 minute lead over fifth. Now I knew I had this.

Almost Doesn't Count

Five hundred meters from the finish my right hamstring decided this was enough for today.  The cramp was bad. I couldn't even walk. 
NO!! I can see the finish line. I tried to continue after stretching it out, but the cramp came immediately back, even worse. Athletes were flowing past me from the left and right and the spectators tried to ask me if they could be of any help. The famous crawls of the Ironman history filled my thoughts. 500 m would be a looong way to do that. 

I tried to gently take a step once more. I guess the hamstring was convinced that moving upright was the easier way to move after all if the stupid head was so damn obsessed about still going on. I walked a few steps and then started to jog. Jogging turned into running and finally into an all out sprint as I reached the final straight before the finish line. 

Accompanied by the cheers of the incredibly loud crowd I crossed the line in a time of 9:21. My position? I was still fourth in my age group but the margin over fifth had dropped to 39 seconds and the sixth was within 90 seconds as well. Phew! That was close! I almost lost it. But I didn't. I had earned my slot to the Big Island.


  1. Congrats on the Kona slot Jens! You nailed it. A nice read once again. What a race and what a course. Just amazing. Mallorca was my first IM. Awesome experience even though I bonked on the run having hammered the first lap too hard. Can't describe how surprised I was to see you in T1.


    1. LC I presume? The course is spectacular, I agree! I'd like to race it next year as well, but I'm on that other island at that time. Can't say I'm too sorry about that though ;)