Ironman Copenhagen a race of love/hate

Eoin’s report from Ironman Copenhagen…………………………

I had signed up for Ironman Copenhagen shortly after I had completed Ironman Wales last year with the theory that an Ironman in normal temperatures for a mines man cant get much harder than Wales….

I had trained extremely hard and smart this year doing what my coach told me instead of doing what I thought I should have done. I had trained smart and trained to my Ironman heart pace and was getting really consistent results with a month on month improvement cumulating in a pb in a 10km run and a pb in a sprint two weeks before the race and feeling very good on the long spins as I had only being using my T.T bike in preparation for the 180km bike. I was doing around 13 hours a week during the winter and 20 hours in the months leading up to Copenhagen.

Flying over Friday my confidence was high that I could reach a secret time that only a few people really knew about. I arrived on Friday night with my support crew my mom brother and his girlfriend. Our hotel was attached to the airport which was perfect instead of dragging my bike around the city. Copenhagen is a beautiful city and not to sound like a Kerry man but my god its expensive I ordered a bowel of pasta upon arrival, charged it on my card and then said hhmm I wonder what that is in euro – €28 for a bowel of pasta, ouch but what the hell, I wasn’t here for beer or food I was here to race and I was ready. So off to bed I went and a good night sleep was had.

Saturday morning, I got up, had my breakfast and got the metro into the city centre where I went to find registration but found 1158 A.D. instead. While trying to find registration I saw what I considered a short cut through the parliament building. So off I went through the grounds of the parliament getting strange looks from a lot of men in suits and continued on until I came across a Viking village re-enactment and realised my shortcut had no access sign to the public for a reason. So I wandered through the Viking village in my jeans and purple t shirt in contrast to full Viking outfits that everyone else was in fortunately I found a fence that wasn’t fully secured together pushed it open and I was free, got to registration and singed up, handed in all my bags bike and back to hotel and bed at 20.30.


I got up at 6am went to breakfast and made my way to the swim start. I wasn’t off till 7.45 so I took my time and soaked up the atmosphere feeling great. At 07.30hrs into the cattle crush I went waiting for the fog horn bbbbbrrrrrr and we where off I took it handy on the swim and went from leg to leg. I knew it was going good when I started passing guys from the wave ahead of me and 1200m I got a good box into the face which turned out to be a good thing I jumped on the back of this guys feet and stayed there till my exit in 1.09.15 delighted with the time as I hadn’t being swimming much but put this down to all the non wetsuit swimming I was doing in the warm weather it stopped me being sloppy in the water and forced me to swim correct and efficiently.


I had being training to 155bpm for the bike section while keeping a high cadence and not wasting energy powering on, I was adamant I was going to race smart and stick with it. So off I went from T1 in front of a massive crowd from the start I knew it was going to be fast, the surface was savage it was like cycling on a roller it was that smooth. First 10km it was like a crypt course cutting through the city centre until we got onto the coast where it was 35km of completely flat road and was doing some good speeds well in excess of 35kph on this section then onto the country roads where it became quite wavy for another 30km but nothing to cause worry about and then onto main road again for another 25km which is slightly wavy but nothing you could call a hill in Irish terms. It was a looped 80km route and was loving the bike and my av speed was 34.4 kph at the finish of the first 90km. My fuelling strategy was bar or gel every 15km while consuming a bottle of water/energy drink every 30km. The fuel of choice was high 5 my life long enemy as of today more on that later….

Unfortunately the weather turned on us for the second lap with strong gusty wind and rain blowing for the second lap however it didn’t impact my speed too much and I finished the bike in 5hr36min with a average speed of 32.1kph for the 180km and heart rate was 158bpm only 3 beats above what it should have being doing. I was thrilled with this as I had set out an optimistic time of at best 5hr40min and 6hr things where looking great for my secret time.

!!!!!!!!The Run!!!!!!!

I entered T2 on top of the world this is going great I thought my swim rocked my bike was perfection for my ability but my stomach felt a bit quezy sure it’s nothing I thought…. So into T2 got changed and headed out on the run. What I encountered leaving T2 brought a tear to my eye as we exited T2 we went under a bridge with a about 1000 people roaring as if Denmark where after winning the world cup in a penalty shoot out against Sweden. The noise bounced off the bridge and was something I will never forget.

So off I went running to heart rate of 160 again a well practiced Ironman pace of which I was extremely comfortable with. First 6 km was great running sub 5 minute kilometres but I had a rumble in my belly that wasn’t subsiding. As I approached the second food zone of the race and I took on some flat coke and burp it came back up ok I said ill avoid the coke next aid station, water – same reaction I was starting to get really worried at this stage with my stomach tossing and turning with every step. I approached the next aid station and tried a banana it went down but not for long the rest of the race continued in the same fashion.

My run essentially ended at 13km nothing would stay down my heart rate deteriorated and every step I took forward felt like I was dragging a concrete block on it I knew my race was over then and there but refused to give in and said I aint quitting no matter how bad it gets. To say I am disappointed about the run is an understatement I am gutted about it. I focused so much time this year on running and was getting good results after taking 6 minutes off my previous pb for a 10km and I didn’t neglect the long distance stuff either but it all went Pete Tong and I know why and it’s my fault.

I knew prior to the race that high 5 products do not agree with me. What I didn’t know is how much of an effect fuelling with them on the bike would cause such an adverse reaction to my stomach. I don’t get stomach problems it’s just not me. It was my decision not to bring my own gels and it destroyed my run, plain and simple and that is that. I essentially crawled the final 29km and have to deal with a run time of 4hr58.


Copenhagen is a fantastic race with crowd support like nothing I have ever witnessed – the swim calm and fast. The bike a bullet course. The run flat and fast if you run. I couldn’t recommend this race enough it was organized and ran to perfection with no compromise through the city centre. I completed the race in 11.58 not the time I had hoped by any means but not a bad time either.

There are a few people id like to thank – the fantastic club that is Nenagh Triathlon Club this is my first year with the club and have found the club the be as nice a bunch as you could ever meet whether you’re a complete novice or a pro there is somebody in the club who can lead you in the right direction. My own family friends and co workers who have to listen to me saying ‘no not going out tonight training in the morning’ more often than I boil the kettle and finally a special mention to my coach Mark Dempsey who’s coaching has taken me to a level I didn’t think possible when I started with him two years ago and making my dreams a reality. So what’s next Ironman Sweden registered the day after Copenhagen!

Thank you

Eoin Sheehan

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