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Ironman Copenhagen 2017 – Race Report

The night before.

It’s 2 am, and I’m fully awake. In bed, desperately trying to fall asleep. But I can’t.

In 2 hours I need to wake up and be ready for the longest and hardest day of this year, Ironman Copenhagen.
I thought I had the nerves under control… It wasn’t true.
It turned out that the second Ironman is even harder the first one. When you are Ironman rooky, your goal is straightforward, just to finish the race.
But when you are racing again, you have higher expectations. You want to prove yourself that you weren’t just lucky the first time.

Sunday, 20th August 2017

After a very rough night, I woke up surprisingly fresh and ready.
Grzesiek, my close friend whom I was racing with, looked strong and confident too. We knew that we were going to have a cracker day!

We had a big support crowd with us, Joanna, Alicja and Paweł, and Zbyszek. They did a fantastic job throughout the day, cheering us up and never stop believing. The challenge felt much more manageable and doable with their help.
It might sound banal, but it’s true: surround yourself with people who believe in you, no matter what, and you can reach the stars.



In Copenhagen, the swim takes places in the seawater lagoon. With the soft morning light, I was in awe of the beauty of the site.

When walking down the bridge towards T1, you could almost feel an electrifying atmosphere of the hope, the fear, and high expectations. It’s a celebration day for us, a moment to remember, a culmination of months of training.
You can call us crazy, but for me it’s crazy not to try, not to dream, not to push.
We have fantastic bodies who love to be challenged; we should celebrate that fact and work them to their maximal potential.

The Swim – 3800m

When compared to the mass start, the rolling start, with six people start every 6 seconds, should make swim easier, less daunting.
But the narrow course and the very tight turns made it tough anyway.
I managed to stay calm and relaxed for most of the swim. The only couple of times I had to swim over, under or around the people, who fought back with the high elbows and deadly breaststroke kicks.
Then, suddenly, my left calf cramped, badly. Fron that point the kicking was not an option, and it was only “surviving swimming.”
I’ve finished in 01:13:59. I was hoping for 1:06 but taking the circumstances I’m pleased with my time.

The Bike – 180km

Transmission from the swim to the bike went very smooth. In no time I was cycling through the city centre and then into the countryside. The fast winds and scattered rain made me feel like back in Scotland.
My nutrition was good, I stuck to the plan.
After 90km I’ve realised that my time finish time would be close to 11h.
I wanted sub 11! Last year in Ironman Barcelona I’ve missed sub 12 by 3 minutes, finishing 12:03. I didn’t want to make this mistake again.

Bike split 05:32:34, with the average 33.5km/h.

The Run – 42, 195m 

During the regular marathon, you can expect “the wall” after 30-35km. At the full distance Triathlon, the wall hits you in the first minute of the run. And it gets worse and worse with every minute, and there is almost no chance for the second wind!
Your body wants to stop, but your mind pushes forward.

Good bless aid stations! A sip of water, two sips of flat coke and you feel fresh for another 10min.

I was on time for sub 11 for the first 20km, and then I slowed down.
My goal was in jeopardy.
With 10km to go and 50 min spare, for me, the race has started again.
I did go for it. Going 5km/min pace, pushing my battered body to its limits. It hurt. Very bad.
When I’ve passed a 1km to go mark, I knew I’d done it.
Finish time, 10:58:31.

I’ve flown through the finished line, received the medal, and then cried for good 5min. Pure emotions overtook my body and mind. Those long hours of pain, discomfort, and exhaustion, it didn’t matter now.
Can I have a post-race burger and beer, please?

Post Race.

Stairs, especially walking downhill and using the toilet are challenging. And the deep hunger doesn’t go away.

I’m proud of my final time and the whole preparation process. There are a couple of things which needed to be tweaked. In October I race a middle distance, and I want to go under 5h.

But this can and must wait. I am planning to be lazy for next couple of days;)

4 thoughts on “Ironman Copenhagen 2017 – Race Report”

  1. Your timings are too good
    I have registered for Copenhagen IRONMAN
    Please guide me about IRONMAN schedule
    I’m Dr Sudhir Pawar from India

    1. Leszek Stelmachowski

      hi Sudhir! What do you want to know? Let me know more about you? How long have you been doing triathlons for? It that your first Ironman?

  2. Hi,
    I am planning to do this race. I have done one 70.3 last year. I am very bad swimmer. During 70.3 I did 1.9 in 55mins. Also I get scared for open water, how is the swim part and how was the support during the swim. Also let me know about the bike and run course, was it flat or tough.


    1. hi Kaustubh, congrats on stepping up to Long Distance Course!
      The swim is shallow lagune, and it is easy to navigate. No waves, flat water (at least two years ago).
      The bike is reasonably flat but might get windy. From what I remember there is one hill, steep, but you will have a lot of support from fans so it feels easier!
      The run is fantastic, you are in the city centre, and Copenhagen is terrific!
      Enjoy and good luck. Ah, and for the accommodation, get a flat next to the metro, it will take you all way down to the start line.

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