Australian Tim Berkel, 24, claimed his maiden Ironman title at the Ironman Western Australia race last weekend and the excitement was certainly clear upon him crossing the line (look carefully and you'll see his Newton Distance S shoes). Click here to read the story on Ironman.com
Tim also wrote a terrific race report. Read more below:
I WON IRONMAN WESTERN AUSTRALIA!!!
Now if you care to keep reading, this is how my race preparation went. I raced my last race in Port Macquarie at the Scody Half Ironman on November 9th, and I didn't come good until the Thursday after that race. This left me less than three weeks to squeeze in some hard sessions, and to also have a few days of tapering before my travel out to Busselton. I had not done any specific full Ironman training prior to my last Half in November, so I really needed to make these two and a half weeks some quality training efforts. My coach, Grant Giles hooked me up, and I was really happy with the preparation.
I was excited to have Mum and Mick (Stepdad) there, as well as my girlfriend, Emily, and my Manager Mike. Bernard, who is the Managing Director of my clothing sponsor, Scody, happened to be in Perth for a cycling event, and came down to watch, and it was awesome to have him there for my first major win. Also I knew I was going to have my mate, and legendary race announcer, Pete Murray on the mic, and he always gives me great motivation before, and during the events.
We all travelled out on Thursday, and it took the better part of a day to make it from Port Macquarie to Bussleton, Western Australia. I did some light training Friday and Saturday, and then the rest of the time was consumed with bike check-in, pre-race briefing, etc....
Race morning was cool, and I was relaxed and optimistic about getting a podium spot. Unfortunately, reigning IMWA Champion, Patrick Vernay, succumbed to an intestinal bug, and was a late scratch from the event. This gave me some more confidence, but the were still five other guys with Ironman titles to their name, as well as several others that have podiumed in some major Ironman's.
I knew Luke McKenzie was going to nail the swim, and I figured he might drag some others with him, but I didn't want to expend too much energy chasing Luke, because I knew there were going to be some fast riding with the likes of Oscar Galindez, Leon Griffin, Jason Shortis, Brian Fuller, and Jimmy Johnson, so I just wanted to be out with that crowd, or possibly just ahead of them out of the swim. And that is how the swim unfolded. Luke McKenzie had Luke Bell with him and we came out about 1:40 behind them. They opened up their lead while we were heading out around the first lap, then McKenzie dropped his chain, and ended up being swallowed up with the group I was riding with, and Bell was out on his own.
We were hammering through the course and I found my energy level fluctuating, but nothing major. We were taking turns at holding a good pace, and at times it felt quite easy, but I ended up riding the 180 Km, in 4:26:43 which is a personal best. At the start of our final lap on the course, we caught Bell, and then Jimmy Johnson took off, and nobody chased. We saw him at some of the turns and I heard his lead got up to about 4 minutes. However, that was all in vein, because we were only about 20 seconds behind him when he finished the bike leg.
The pack entered into the bike compound, when we could watch Jimmy entering the change tent. I made a quick transition, and ended up going out on the run in first place. I gave it a big kick, and began to drop Jimmy and the others within the first kilometer. I was feeling great, and my stride and form felt strong, so I kept this pace for a while, but then saw I was running a 3:20 kilometer, so I decided to slow it down a little because I was concerned over blowing up, later in the race. I continued to open my gap on second place, but then around the 23 Kilometer mark, I started to hit a bad patch. I tried to keep my form, and I continued to struggle until the 28 Kilometer mark.
I could hear reports that Jason Shortis was closing in on me, which surprised me, because last time I saw him, he was back a fair way. Well, he caught me at the 30 Km mark and after a short time of running off my shoulder, he gave it a kick, and made 20-30 meters on me. I was feeling wasted, and we came up on the aid station. I grabbed a PowerBar Gel, and a cup of coke, and got it into me while Jason was holding a 30 meter lead over me. After getting the sugar into me, I got myself back up along side Jason, and we ran together for awhile shoulder-to-shoulder. It was an incredible feeling to be part of this dual with a legend and the crowds were going wild along the course. I decided to give a big surge and see if I could break him, so I gave it a big kick, and quickly put 20 metres on him. I then relaxed my pace, but held my form.
By the time I reached the southern turnaround, and headed back on my final leg, I could see the gap had extended to about 400 metres, and I knew then the race was in my reach. As I headed back north, the crowds were great, and when I was about two kilometers from the finish I began to get into it. The helicopter was hovering low over the beach and I gave the cameraman a little wave and a smile. I couldn't believe this was all happening, and I was soaking it up. I could hear Pete getting the crowds worked up, when I was about a kilometer away, and by the time I was running down the chute, I had every emotion going through me. I am still pinching myself to make sure this is real, but with all the recognition I got in town today I'm getting the feeling this isn't a dream.
I was happy with every leg of the race. I swam the 3.8 Km in 0:50:25, then rode the 180 Km in 4:26:43 (PB), and then ran the 42.2 Km Marathon in 2:49:56 (fastest run of the day).
I want to thank all of you that have believed in me over the years, and given me support. I want to share this win with all of you. Thanks.
Pos Name Time Swim Cycle Run
1 Tim BERKEL 8:07:06 0:50:25 4:26:43 2:49:56
2 Jason SHORTIS 8:10:57 0:50:43 4:26:37 2:53:36
3 Luke MCKENZIE 8:12:45 0:48:05 4:29:04 2:55:35
4 Jimmy JOHNSEN 8:18:43 0:50:40 4:26:15 3:01:47
5 Simon BILLEAU 8:20:32 0:50:48 4:27:08 3:02:36
6 Leon GRIFFIN 8:24:41 0:50:22 4:26:46 3:07:33
7 Oscar GALINDEZ 8:27:28 0:50:40 4:26:29 3:10:17
8 Chris DMITRIEFF 8:28:29 0:53:18 4:41:28 2:53:42
9 Gavin SCOTT 8:32:22 0:50:26 4:28:56 3:13:00
10 Joshua RIX 8:33:22 0:50:18 4:27:02 3:16:01