The IRONMAN World Championship saw the World Record fall in the men’s race last year. The winning time of 8:01:40 slipped ever so close to breaking the 8-hour barrier on one of the most demanding IRONMAN courses in the world.
Yes, Patrick Lange logged an amazing Top-40 Greatest Moment with his steady but searing performance. Yet the year and the race were not all roses and champagne for him. And to understand why it wasn’t, we need to go back one year in time.
His 2017 campaign actually started the moment he crossed the finish line the previous year in 3rd place. In 2016 the name Patrick Lange was written in bold letters in the IRONMAN record books. He became the first person ever to run a sub 2:40 marathon in Kona, clocking a 2:39:45. The previous record had stood for 27-years. It was a marathon time of 2:40:04. That mark was set way back in 1989 by yours truly.
Patrick Lange was highly motivated from that performance. But the extra dose of enthusiasm cost him in the early part of 2017.
“Finishing third in my Kona Rookie Year 2016 with a run course record (for the new run course, to be fair) really did something to me. At that point I realized that winning this race was possible for me.”
“With that goal and a really high level of motivation in mind, I wanted to do everything I was capable of to fulfill my dream to win the 2017 edition of the race.”
“What happened next is something that happens to many people with high expectations on themselves- I asked my body to accomplish more that I should have done at that moment. The result was an injury in my foot that forced me to stop my training for almost three months.”
“All of a sudden, I had to redefine my goals for the season. I changed my goal from trying to win the Mainova IRONMAN Frankfurt to simply finishing it and validating my slot for Hawaii. Then hopefully I would be able to continue to build more gradually all the way to Kona.”
There’s always debate about the best strategy to try to be the champion in Hawaii. The strong cyclists downplay the need for a run to match. The strong runners just hope they can somehow keep the damage to a minimum during the cycling leg and then mop up the deficit during the marathon.
But the strategy that almost no one talks about is racing as steady as possible and not getting caught up in the surges and early attacks. Yes, positioning is critical based on one’s strengths and weaknesses. But the ultimate IRONMAN performance is going to take place when the bulk of the day is spent responding to your body’s signals rather than the strategies of your competitors.
It’s tough to race that way though, that is unless you are forced to by the dynamics of the race. Patrick Lange was faced with one of those “unfortunate” situations in 2017. He lost contact with the main bike group before the midpoint of the cycling leg. In the end, though, this led to a finish time that shattered Craig Alexander’s previous world record.
Here is how Patrick described that unfolding scenario on race day:
“I executed a reasonable swim, ended up being in the mix of the front pack and was pretty happy with that position. Some tactical mistakes on the bike put me back into about 15th position though. On the climb up to Hawi I had to let go of the lead pack. From that point forward the race against myself started.”
“I had to overcome some bad places in my mind, but was able to finish the ride in 11th position which was about 12 positions better than in 2016. That motivated me to keep going despite my legs feeling totally exhausted. I was having a really hard time!”
“But then I started overtaking some of the best in our sport. That totally motivated me to keep going and not lose my rhythm. It was not easy! From time to time I was more or less thinking from one step to the next.”
They knew he would shrink the gap they had opened up on the bike. But most were still hoping the divide was big enough to stay ahead through the finish. That would not happen…for any of them!
“Seeing the other guys at the turnaround in the Energy Lab set some new fire in me and I tried to speed up. When I saw Lionel [Sanders] the adrenaline kicked in. I was able to find another gear to overtake him and eventually take the win.”
“Running down Ali’i Dr. and feeling the energy from everyone was everything I had dreamed it would be. I will never forget this special feeling. Crossing the finish line with you and Dave Scott holding the finishing tape plus breaking the overall course record totally blew my mind.”
Here’s the a video showing Patrick’s record setting race:
In his humble manner, Patrick Lange was shy about breaking the course record as he was the year before when he set a new marathon mark.
Patrick Lange’s course record of 8:01:40 is the best the world has ever seen in Kona. And he proved once again, that no race is done until the finish line is crossed!
To see what Patrick is up to these days click HERE.
I am the Founder and CEO at Mark Allen Coaching. I am proud to have been voted in an ESPN global poll "The Greatest Endurance Athlete Of All Time." During my multi-sport career I won the Ironman Triathlon World Championship six time, the inaugural Triathlon World Championship at the Olympic Distance in Avignon, France, and at one point in my career I won 21 straight races across every derivation and distance. It was a great career, but that's all it would ever be unless I was able to share all of the experience and methodology we invented long before smart watches, power meters, and flashy uniforms. That's why I started Mark Allen Coaching, as a way to return to others at least the part of the gifts I received.