Outlaw 2015 by Dave Hutcheon


Outlaw 2015 was my return to Ironman distance racing after quite a few years off long distance racing. My training had gone to plan I’d knuckled down for 6 months, I’d opted for the Outlaw as a number of friends had raced it and the reviews rated it highly and it was not too far for friends and family.

The Saturday evening was spent with family and friends prior to returning back to my hotel for a 3:30am start, my time to get my revenge on the party goers by clattering around my room whilst trying to drink a coffee and force down a pot of porridge. The bagel was just a step too far.

Off to race venue for 5am, not a breath of wind and the water was like glass which got the thumbs up from me. I got in the water placing myself in the second pod. I’d decided to start off steady not to blow any gaskets, after a little argy bargy I managed to get in to a reasonable rhythm. The swim is as straight forward as possible straight up across for 75m then straight back down to the finish. I did not find the swim buoys that easy to see due to a combination of other swimmers and them not being the huge tall orange ones until the turn buoy. The swim seemed a little choppier on the way back maybe because I was getting a little tired, there was also a little bit of plant vegetation in the final few hundred metres. Out of the water I checked my watched and saw I was out in 1:16 nothing different from expected.

In to T1 and having seen the weather forecast I kept my trisuit on but donned some armwarmers and a thin gillet. I took my time in T1 as usual ensuring I had gotten everything. Out of T1 and on the road for 1:25 so a 9 minute transition which I was happyish with. 

The bike begins with a lap of the swim course to get organized, my power meter was running fine (average power of 190 watts being my goal) my heart rate was not being picked up by my Garmin Grrrr. The weather was still and the sun was out perfect riding conditions, the bike course is relatively flat and consists of 2 Southern rural and 1 Northern urban loop. My feed strategy: SIS gel, bottle of High 5, salt tablet every hour and to eat 2 Powerbars overall. I got going and was comfortable averaging 19-20mph keeping to wattage whilst watching the steady flow of some speedy cyclists and some possibly over ambitious racers come flying past me.

I got to the end of the first lap with no problems and on course for a 5:30 bike. The ride from the Southern to Northern loop is frustrating it does bunch up due to it being on an A road and slightly uphill. There is only one real hill on the course it starts off gently for a few hundred meters then kicks up to 10% for the final few hundred meters, I was feeling good I started off in the big chain ring and got half way up and thought “what on earth are you trying to prove” – in to the small chain ring and comfortably up. There is then a nice rolling downhill nothing too steep that you can stay on the tribars with. 

I had just got over 60 miles and was at 3:02 on the bike feeling comfortable and on target. I thought what was an innocuous bump but then immediately felt the tubular on my rear go flat. I had decided pre-race not to bring a spare tub but had 2 canisters of pitstop and also a pump. I got my pitstop fired in the sealant it initially went up but quickly deflated. Pitstop number 2 same result – I tried to pump it up but it wouldn’t inflate. RACE OVER…….NOOOOOOOOOO!! After walking for what seemed an eternity a draft buster came to my assistance. I told him what had happened and the mobile repair van turned up. The guys were brilliant and produced the 1 tub that they had brought out. Some long time later (1hr 10 minutes to be precise) I was back on the road. I had been going about 15 minutes when it started to rain and rain and rain by the 4th hour of actual riding it was blowing a gale and the roads were streaming with water. 

At the 90 mile mark I was still going well but was sodden and shivering, starting with negative thoughts about quitting and just wanting to be off the bike. The rain did abate a little but my hands and wrists were so cold now that I couldn’t grab gels or water bottles at the aid station. Thankfully at long last the bike came to an end, I jettisoned my bike never wanting to see it again. On hearing Lorna and the kids shouting over to me. I ran over to them and explained what had happened.

That gave me the kick up the backside. My hands and wrists still frozen resulting in me taking 6 attempts to fully pull my socks on. Try as I might I could not tie my laces a star fellow competitor sat next to me offered to tie my laces! Set one tied a little tight but I couldn’t be picky and as he bent down to tie the second set he screamed out as his hamstring cramped hats off he still tied them. I really hope he finished and it didn’t impact on his race too much. T2 – 11 minutes shocking but done.

Out on to the run which consists of a lap of the lake and then two 7.5 miles out and back loops finally 2 laps of the lake. I immediately felt warmer on the run and was so pleased to be running. The weather was so bad that you struggled to see the end of the lake. I was soon up to speed aiming to run at 4:50-5:00 per km for as long as I could hoping this to be 16 mile then for my pace to naturally drop off but still hoping to hold 5:30-6:00 per km. My feed strategy was to take a gel every other aid station along with some High 5 Zero drink and then just water in between. The first few miles of the out and back was very muddy and quite congested but I managed to stay on pace and saw I was running at 4:45 per km having to pull it back at times and thinking this is a marathon you are on. At the farthest end of the course I thought – “is that it”, again then readjusting and thinking you have got to do this again. At the end of the out and back I was half way reaching the halfway mark at 1:40ish amazing I thought. I complete the loop of the lake and then at the end of the out and back loop near to the suspension bridge I started to feel some fatigue in my legs mainly in my quads. Still trying to retain my form, my pace had dropped to 5:15-30 per km but I was still happy knowing that once back at the lake I only had 2 laps of the lake to go. Finally at the end of the out and back 5.5 miles to go.

The final 2 laps I have to say are a mental battle as you know you are so close to finishing but do pass it. My legs were starting to feel heavy now and my pace had dropped off to 5:50 per km, with the thoughts of walking sounding very appealing. I broke the final 2 loops down in to sections, I got to the furthest aid station wanting something different I took on some coke and a Jaffa cake. Trying to start running again was as if someone was poking hot knives in to my thighs. 1 more lap 1 more lap get going. I got to the last and far aid station again stopping to walk taking on coke. Now get going and get to that finish line. The final km is a blur of rain, cheering and seeing family and friends on the way to the finish line before collecting Blake and Grace and them running down the finish line with me. Amazing feeling but glad to get it done in those horrendous conditions. 

Overall 11hrs: 52mins made up of 1:16 swim 6:40 bike 3:33 marathon. Overall a great great race and I will return (some unfinished business) brilliantly orgainsed, great course and a laid back and friendly event suitable for all ages, ranges and abilities. Back to 70.3 racing for me next year with a return to a guaranteed dry warm IM race in 2017 if all is well.