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Dimonds at Ultraman 2018

By December 20, 2018 No Comments

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: If you ask any Dimond rider who has ridden in extreme conditions, the thing that really stands out is the handling and stability in the gusts. During Ultraman I made up a lot of time (several minutes) on the descents, and it’s because I could ride with confidence. There was one section where we had some gusty wind and I averaged 50 mph for 13 miles. I was definitely the fastest descender among the guys I was riding with. The only guy in the race who was a faster descender than me was Gary Kelly who was also on his Dimond! From a setup point of view, with the Marquise there is good onboard storage, so my race bike is very clean. There is nothing on the frame except a bottle (I only need one but it’s mandatory to have two in this race).
How was Ultraman training different than Ironman training? Describe how you managed the increased training stress.
MARY: The biggest thing I’ve learned over the years is that striving for balance creates a lot of stress.  Balance as we like to think of it doesn’t exist.  If I’m putting in extra training time during the final weeks of my Ultraman build, I’m also getting more sleep and less likely to agree to social invites.  My house also reflects my training status as my office and training room become a little more disorganized, and laundry piles up.  I rely more on my husband for grocery shopping and meal prep and general household chores.  Eventually the pendulum swings and I when I’m training less, I have more time to catch up on work and relationships.

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.

Gary Kelly is from Sydney, Australia and completed the Ironman World Championships just 6 weeks prior to the Ultraman race.
Mary Knott lives in Gilbert, Arizona where she is a part-time veterinarian and owns a Cadence Running Company with her husband, Dan.
Rob Gray, 2017 Ultraman World Champion, is an engineer and coach for TriForce coaching from Boulder, Colorado.

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