Last month, three Dimond athletes returned to the Big Island of Hawaii for the Ultraman World Championships. The race takes place over three days during which athletes cover 320 miles, 6.2 by swimming, 261.4 cycling, and 52.4 running. Yes, this race is challenging to say the least! These athletes performed brilliantly and offered some comments following the race.
Why race Ultraman?
GARY: I race Ultraman because of the underlying spirit of the race. You have a crew, everyone helps one another and its largely under the radar. It has a real earthy feel, and is much less corporate than Ironman racing (at all distances).
MARY: I’ve always been attracted to the more “extreme” events. There was a time when Ironman seemed extreme to me, now after many Ironman finishes I was ready for something a little more extreme. I’ve had Ultraman on my radar since 2010. I took my time with that goal and getting there, but it seemed like the right time to make the leap. Ultraman culture feels more like family which also drew me to it.
I want to take risks. I want to dream big, and set goals that scare me a little, take me outside my comfort zone and allow me to grow as a person. Ultraman has done that for me.
ROB: I love the strategy and tactics required due to the fact that it’s a 3 day stage race. You have to think about pacing, nutrition, recovery, logistics and your crew dynamics. It really is a team effort. And you need to figure out how to maximize your efforts over three days without destroying yourself. That’s very different from a one day event like Ironman. The other reason why I like Ultraman is that it suits my physiology. I’m a “diesel engine” type of athlete so I don’t really slow down much compared to shorter races. For example in the swim I’m doing the same effort as a 70.3 – there are guys who swim low 50s in Ironman who come out the water behind me in Ultraman.
How does your Dimond suit you well for racing?
GARY: I ran a set-up that I think is perfect for the Dimond. I run 155mm cranks with a 54T front and a 9-44T rear. Everyone told me I’d never need a 54 x 9, but that’s rubbish (and I wish I’d gone with my 56). When you have a 30 mile descent it’s awesome.
MARY: I feel like I have an advantage being on a super aerodynamic (yet comfortable!) bike. My gem loves to climb, but obviously powering a bike uphill is very dependent on the strength of the rider. However, on the almost 30 mile descent into Hilo on day 2 of Ultraman Worlds I flew by people because of my aerodynamic advantage. I’ve had bikes my whole life, since I was a kid. But my gem is the bike that has taken me from average mid-pack athlete to first off the bike. She reminds me of how much I love the wind-in-my-hair freedom of riding bikes.
ROB: People have a perception that the workouts need to be really long. But that’s not the case. My swim and run workouts are no longer than for Ironman (5k swim, 20 mile run). The difference is weekly volume on the run is higher; I peak for Ultraman at around 80 miles per week and for Ironman it’s only about 50 miles. But my longest run is only about 20 miles. On the bike, I do longer rides, at least a few 130+ miles and one or two 160+ miles. [Compared to] Ironman my longest ride is about 100 miles or 4 hours.