Andrew Raynor Dover
Celine Schaerer takes out Ironman Switzerland in emphatic fashion!
This weekend made me a very proud coach. Each year I make the short pilgrimage to the race I believe is the best overall race on the Wanda Sports calendar, Ironman Zurich.
The Saturday Sprint distance race, followed by the 5150 non drafting race for the short course athletes sets a dramatic back drop for what is the no fudging Ironman. After a great fair 1 lap swim, athletes are hit with a wicked straight fast time trial that brings them to a 6 klm climb. The Swiss call it a hill, but if you come from anywhere else, well it’s a monster. This is followed by a fast and furious down hill, then a false flat piece of road that makes you think I just can’t get going. Following this another super quick 20 klm time trial past the transition and crazy cheering crowd – but the lap is not over. Oh no you head to a 1.5 klm climb. How steep? Well they call it heart break hill. That’s how steep then down hair raising decent and on to the Formula 1 quick time trial. And because it Swiss, they say that was so good let’s do it all over again and call it an Iron Persons Ironman.
Yes the real deal, then a four lap run through the famous old town and around one of the most picturesque lakes in the world. It’s a triathlon happening, and I could not encourage you enough if you are an Ironman athlete to visit and try this race.
But the head to head racing didn’t start there this week. Julie Derron travelled to Alpe de’Huez with her sister Nina to experience Frances most iconic climb. Julie coming back from injury surprised not only herself but me too, by taking out the professional sprint race that included a devastating climb up the famous mountain. By the end of the 21 switch backs our little gun had put 3 minutes 20 seconds into her French opponents. So how can you say ‘don’t run’, which was the pre-race plan, but with adrenaline pumping hard off Julie went and finished it off, a great return to racing.
Next day in Zurich, the Angry Bird stepped out in the Zurich 5150, coming straight off winning Roth only 3 weeks prior. There has been plenty of conjecture through the media that the Angry Bird is losing her speed with her dynamic Ironman career. After Saturday afternoon I think the Swiss pro men can let everybody know how the Ironman is blunting her short course speed! It was a master class in speed and power in all three disciplines.
A great pointer to the form that the Angry Bird will bring to the 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga in September.
Mariana Solorzano joined the Angry Bird at the 5150 Zurich and I was pleased to see her best performance in 2 years. She was so absorbed in the moment as she flew along the run course, she inadvertently made an erroneous turn adding an extra 1500m to her race route. Next week we will go again in Nyon, with a new focus on the job at hand.
With the weekend set up for something special, on Sunday Celine Schaerer turned her season around with an absolute power house display in taking her home town Ironman. In front of her home town fans Celine lead from the first swim stroke, with each klm she put to the sword all her negative thinking for a slow start to the year. On the bike Celine rebuilt her confidence with every 10 klm, and the second lap put on the after burners to build a 7 minute lead on to the run. This was more of the same, the hotter it got the more she smiled and turned the screws. This has now qualified her for a shot at Kona, a dream Celine had thought was escaping her. On Sunday she dug in and focused all her energy on pulling out 100% of what she is capable. It was a magic sports moment for her and we look forward to seeing her on the start line. The course or the heat will not frighten her.
Celine on route to her first Ironman win in Zurich and sharing a special moment with Coach Brett and Coach Robbie.
Last but definitely not least, we should all be proud to see 22 year old Michelle Derron call herself an Iron Woman. No athlete has dealt with the heartbreak of hip problems that has stopped her from competing over the last 3 seasons, to have the trust to go against all conventions. When coach said let’s set our goal to come back and do an Ironman. To see Michelle get home hard the last 20 klm of the run to Finish to hear ‘you are an Ironman!’.
It was a great pleasure for me, as it was a very very courageous effort. I want her to know how proud our coaches and her training pals are that know the impossible road she has trodden. Well done Pistol. We build from here.
As we travelled home we received news from 70.3 Ecuador that ‘The Brazilian Lion’ Reinaldo Colucci (who needed to win to qualify for Kona), even though 2 minutes down to the leader off the bike, pushed hard taking the lead in the last 400m of the race, out sprinting his opponent, to take the race win, and his Kona spot.
So it was a big successful and emotional weekend for coach. It was a fantastic weekend of racing. Thanks to you all.
Race Recap from Coach Mary Beth Ellis:
Lisa Roberts just a few weeks off her stunning podium result in Challenge Roth made the trip to race the iconic Alpe d’Huez long distance triathlon. Using this classic French race as a tune up for Embrunman, Lisa had a stellar day overcoming a rough high-contact swim and an undeserved penalty on the bike to battle her way to another podium finishing in 3rd. Lisa will build on this great result and the fitness she gained racing on the Alp to be ready to challenge for the win in Embrunman.
Race Recap from Coach Susie Langley:
All three Derron sisters were in action this past week and it was Nina who got the ball rolling last Thursday when she returned to Alpe d’Huez to tackle the epic Long Course race. Taking the lead from the gun, it was a valiant effort, and ultimately Nina finished with the chocolate medal! We look forward to using the fitness from this race to catapult us into the second half of the season.
Congratulations to all our athletes competing this weekend.
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