Ironman Hamburg 2022

On the 5th June 2022 I raced an Ironman triathlon in Hamburg along with athletes Marc and Dani. We all did incredibly well and really enjoyed our time. Here is my race report and hopefully this can inspire you or motivate you to train for your next event. What is sure is that preparation is key.

Thanks for reading.

The preparation


I was swimming well until the month of March or so – and then COVID finally hit me… In bed for a week, I was hit hard and could not swim at all. In April I also organized two kids camps which prevented me for swimming. So, all in all probably lost a good 4 weeks, but more importantly I lost my consistency. Once I could swim again, I unfortunately felt some pain in my should blades and this again prevented me from swimming for long periods. I used the swim cords more, and did not swam more than 2000m at a time in the lead up to the event… not ideal… I knew I had lost my sharpness and therefore at least 2-3 minutes of my swim time.


I purposely didn’t train too much on the Time Trial bike. Why? Because mentally I find it very draining, and I wanted to keep my mental bullets for the race. My FTP has been the best almost, I raced a bit on Zwift and had good results. I did some long rides on my road and mountain bikes and felt good.


Here I think was my best preparation. I didn’t run hard at all – just consistently and built up the long runs very nicely at race pace and above. I was quite confident in my running ability.


Full credit to the work I did with Petri. We did some hard sessions especially lifting super heavy weights on squats and also building my explosive power with jumps. We went against the traditional strength programme, as we both believe in short and sharp efforts with heavy weights are best suited to build strength, even for endurance athletes.


Mental strength is something I trained a lot. I practiced visualization a lot, especially for this course, so that my subconscious would “expect” what would happen when the going got tough.

I also practiced the Wim Hof method extensively. Not only the cold-water exposure with regular cold showers and ice baths, but also the breathing techniques and routines that help you relax and reach the deeper parts of your brain.


Overall, very healthy, I did not change much in the last few years. I tend to have a flexitarian diet. I eat mostly vegan, but I eat eggs regularily and sometimes I have some fish, but never red meat, I simply don’t digest it well. Alcohol consumption was usual, nothing extreme, but this is something I might need to reduce in the coming year, in order to get better sleep, and therefore better recovery. Actually, one thing I changed is that I almost doubled my protein intake in the last year. I use plant-based protein shakes and have them usually 2-3 times a day. As a flexitarian it’s difficult to get enough protein and research suggests that we need 1.2 – 1.6 grams of protein per kilograms of bodyweight, and that’s a lot! make the calculation, I’m sure you’re not eating enough protein…


We arrived by train the Thursday before the race in Hamburg, by train from Geneva. About 11 hour journey! We registered on Friday, checked out the expo and the city centre. We went for a nice bike ride trying to check out the course. Oh, I had also gone for a little morning shake out run. Saturday I went to the local Parkrun – great to finally be a Parkrun tourist, very nice course next to the Alster. Saturday afternoon we checked in our bikes, and made the final preps of the bags, nerves were starting to appear…

Race Plan

My goal was to complete the race in under 10 hours. Something I knew I was more than capable of, but I had somehow not been able to. In Argentina the wind was crazy, and in Austria I was ill with sinusitis… excuses excuses… Here is the breakdown of my overall times :

Lower Upper
Swim 1:05 1:10
Bike 4:55 5:05
Run 3:25 3:35
Transition 0:10 0:10
TOTAL 9:35 10:00

Nutrition Plan

  • Breakfast : bread with almond butter
  • Pre race : bottle energy drink
  • Bike : 5 bottles energy drink (100g carbs in each bottle)
  • Run : first half with Maurten gels and water, second half with Red Bull or Coca Cola

How did it go?


It went ok. I did not feel great but this was expected. I got through it. I was swimming just one buoy at a time. Mentally I had divided the course into 5 sections. This really helped me mentally to basically only focus on short efforts and not thinking of the course as a whole. It worked well.

Strava file (it has a GPS error which looks like I swam 4400m, I did not…)


The bike was supposed to be fast. However, the wind was picking up during the day. The course is very flat, but the wind can really affect the pace, as I noticed in Argentina! Same as the swim, I had divided the course into a few sections in order to mentally face the challenge in smaller bits.

I had two small incidents, when after only 10km I lost my rear bottle due to poor road conditions, and the same happened again at km 90 but this time with my front bottle… I need to find a better system as it not only lost me time, but also lost me the group I was with.

Drafting is not legal in this race, however, even if you are 5-10m behind someone, you can really benefit from the draft. And furthermore, its less mentally challenging to follow someone than to be solo, in my opinion.

The first lap went really fast, in 2 hours and 25min. The second was slower because the group was smaller, and the wind really picked up, and nobody was interested in my group in riding hard…. I accepted this as I knew I would be under my time target, so I decided to play it safe. Overall, very happy with my bike.

Strava file


I felt really good when I started the run, as you usually do in an Ironman. I really had to contain myself as my watch was showing crazy speed (4:15-4:20). I almost didn’t believe it. So I slowed down to an easier pace but decided to go more by feel and what felt comfortable, until the half way mark. Then of course I started to slow down, it was expected. I kept a decent pace until the final quarter where my pace really dropped by 30s per kilometer vs my target pace. However, I made the maths and I was more than ok to reach my sub 10 hour target. So, I purposely let this slowing down happen, and didn’t fight it in order not to risk the whole race by either cramping of having stomach issues. I could risk this another day!

Strava file

The finish

It was amazing. The atmosphere, the crowd, the feeling, wow! That’s why I love Ironman triathlon. I crossed the line in 9 hours 53 minutes and 33 seconds. A huge personal best now filled with great memories.

Overall, the race was a massive success and I am really happy with the result. I think I could have gone a little faster, but I executed the plan perfectly and did not want to take risks.

My Splits

Discipline Time
Swim 1:07:51
T1 0:07:16
Bike 4:58:52
T2 0:06:28
Run 3:33:08
TOTAL 9:53:33

Support and thank you

First and foremost, my family. They are incredibly patient, and they make big sacrifices for me to do my favorite sport, so a big thank you to my wife and kids who I love very much.

My strength coach and physio Petri who prepped me incredibly and made me very strong, bullet proof to injuries and pushed me to the limit with his classical but alternative methods when we compare to traditional endurance training.

Le Cercle bike shop for setting up the bike perfectly; they helped me get into a nicer aero position and it worked, especially for this bike course!

Tom at Velo Clean for making the bike the cleanest and therefore fastest it’s ever been. This ultra-sonic cleans with the chain wax has worked wonders.

Maayke who helped with my mental strength. Such an important part of the sprot that we tend to minimize. I was ready mentally for the challenge.

My friends and athletes Dani and Marc who came for the weekend and raced their own race and also had very successful race. It was a great moment to share with you – well done and thank you!

To all the athletes I coach and the people who sent me words of encouragements. It really means a lot to read all the messages, it gave me extra boost!

What’s next?

So for this summer that’s it… no more racing! However, I will be racing a little bit in the Autumn with a 100km mountain bike race in the Jura, a 200km ride around London, and the Lausanne marathon where I hope to break 3 hours!

My next Ironman… well, in 2023. Where I don’t know. I am tempted by Roth again but why not another challenge like Lanzarote? So many options… Looking forward to the next challenge!

Geek Corner

For the data geeks and freaks out there just like me, here are the main files that you might find useful !

Steady riding with perfect VI at 1.0, IF at 0.64 which means it’s super easy riding, and a perfect left/right balance

Most of the time spent in Q3 which means low power and low cadence – the “Ironman Quarter”

Most of the time is spent in Zone 1 (20%) and 2 (40%) – that’s perfect. Some time in Tempo/Sweetspot (32%) and also some FTP to V02 (8%) necessary to bridge gaps between pace lines or overtaking riders.

My goal was 180km in 5 hours, which means I was auto-lapping every 9km which gave me an indication if I was above or below 15 minutes for each lap. The first half I averaged 209 watts and the second half 190 watts.

My goal was 3 hours 30 min so about 5 minute per km pace. I also decided to do laps of 4 kilometres, in order to gauge 20 minutes at a time (4km x 5 = 20 minutes). Mentally it helped me also to run “only” 20 minute at a time.