Ironman Copenhagen (Aug 19)- Race Report

Race information

  • What? Ironman Copenhagen
  • When? August 18, 2019
  • How far? 226km (3.8km swim, 180k cycle, 42.2k run)
  • Website?


Goal Description Completed?
A Finish Yes
B Sub 14hr No
C Get Nutrition Right Partial

Race Strategy

This was my second Full Ironman after last year Philippines Ironman

I had done good practice for this, particularly the bike and run part. Swim is a challenge in Delhi, particularly the pool access. Most of the pool closes from October to March.
Copenhagen was going to be cold swim (17-18degree) and it would be my first time wetsuit swim.
My strategy was to complete the swim in ~90min, then follow Heart Rate for Bike (MAF Zone) and Run (MAF+20 Zone)

Pre-Race Swim

Two days before the race, I went for a practice swim. This was my first open water swim in a wetsuit, and 4th open water swim overall.

The water was cold and murky. After few minutes of feeling the water, I started to swim. But I’ve not gone even 20m when I started to hyperventilate. I quickly turned back towards the short. I felt the tight wetsuit was closing in on my chest. I decided to remove the underneath tri-top. This helped, and breathing was less labored. But now I was in no mental space to try deep water swim again. I did some shallow water strokes and called it a day.

Panic in Open Water Swim is something I’ve always struggled with. But experience is a wonderful thing, by past experience, I knew race day would be better.

Swim [3.8km]

The Race Day was finally here.
Getting up at 4am, I had a light breakfast - 4 Scrambled Eggs made in Ghee + 1 Glass of Milk.

I took Metro to the venue. The metro was packed with athletes. For a packed metro, it was very quiet. Everyone was in their zone, preparing for the big day.

Pre-Race - All walking quietly
Pre-Race - The beach

On reaching the start point, I filled air in the bike, fixed water bottles, mounted Garmin Edge and finally wore the wetsuit. Post this, I went for a short run to heat up the body. Once all this is done, I went for a swim warmup. By now, I was in very calm state. I went in sea, did bubbling for a minute, then did few good strokes. Good to go!

Radstrong Gang
With Blossom

The swim was a rolling start swim, with a release of a group of 4 athletes for every 6 seconds.

Rolling Start - 6 people enter water together

Pro Females started at 7am. For Age Groupers, we were divided in 5 Zones, based on our predicted swim timers. I had taken Green cap this time which indicated 1:18-1:22 swim time.

Swim Line Up

Soon people with Green caps started to line up. I didn’t want to wait anxiously for my turn to come, hence went right ahead to start of the line.
Entering the water, it was nice cold. Nothing shocking or unbearable - body was nicely warmed up by now.
I started with slow breathing and gradual strokes. Soon I found my Rythm, and time flew quickly.
Crossing two bridges, I reached first turnaround at 1600m. Here water was very shallow and weeds were all around. - getting in legs, face, arms. It was a bit of mind scare. But no option but to continue.

I quickly reached close to end line and came out of the water. I didn’t stop at all during the swim, and it was a comfortable swim.

Swim Exit
Working on getting wetsuit off

Total Time: 1hr 30min
Total Swim done: 3950m
Strava Link

Nutrition: 1 gel 15” before the start.


Stripping off wetsuit took some time as there were no wetsuit strippers and I was very new. The transition was bit longer compared to my plan.

Total Time: 15min

Cycle [180km]

Whosoever has said Copenhagen bike course is flat must be from Europe. It is surely not flat from Asian standards :)

The course starts easy, first 15km are flat and we move from the city to the sea shore. The route here was mesmerizing - swimming with sea on the right.
After 45km, we take turn and enter the village side. From here it was mostly rolling hills, with no real stretch for continuous ride.

Bike Start
Lovely scenic villages

At 85km mark, 3rd aid station came and I took first washroom break. By then I was getting exhausted with the climbs and it had started to rain also from an hour back. The rain was to continue for remaining bike and some part of the run too.
Starting Loop 2, energy was dipping. I managed to hang on, and kept doing the mental calculation of the end time. I desperately tried to finish this under 7 hours, but finally finished it little over 7 hours.

My patent pose

Total Time: 7hr 08min

Strava Link
Nutrition: Gel every 45min. Banana + Bars via the Aid station. I don’t think I managed to get properly 100gm carbs per hour. I also lost my salt capsules somewhere during the bike. Paid price for this in the run.


I was so glad to hand over the bike and go in a standing position. I quickly went towards the run bag. I took out Vibrams and rinsed my mouth with mouthwash. Mouthwash helps to reset the taste of mouth.

Total Time: 8min

Nutrition: 2 Salt Crackers

Run [42.2km]

Running is something I had really worked on from last Ironman. I have gone from 2:36 Half Ironman to 1:53 Half Ironman. So, now I was not scared of finishing the run.

Run was 4 loops, with each loop of 10.5km. The run route is a torture, not so much from the terrains and cobblestones, but from the fact that it’s four laps. In each lap, you’ve option to go either to finish line or continue. The finish line was just 50m away and you could hear the noise from Announcers on the mic. You do this four times! Yep four times being forced to stare down the finish chute, but until you have those four rainbow wrist bands, you can not pass go and proceed to the finish.

I started run comfortable at 6:30pace, keeping an eye on HR which was steady 141bpm.

I started coke at 12km distance, and from there I held on to it.
Till 23km, I didn’t stop and managed to keep a pace of 6:30.

After 23km, I did my first walk to aid station, and boy what a bad decision it was. Till then, I was just running, ignoring my mind. But as soon as I stopped, my mind went in overdrive - “how nice does it feel” and “how tired we are”. My legs have taken bad beating due to cobblestones path in the route. It is tough on ankle, even more when you are running close to barefoot.

Lovey crowd support throughout the Run

Last 10km were a struggle. I’m still not sure if I bonked, or I was mental fatigued. But I had no energy in leg to push forward. First 21km came in 2:15, Next 21km came in close to 3hours.

Close to the finish line, I sprinted. Blossom was there at the end line, who very kindly handed over Indian flag to me. I finished smiling, with flag on my shoulder.

“From India, Rishi Sareen, you are an Ironman”. It was so good to hear these words again.

The finish line
Still smiling
Proud to be carrying indian flag

End time: 5:18hr

Strava Link :

Nutrition: 3 gels + coke every aid station after 10km + Salt crackers. After 30km, it was very difficult to eat anything. That could have caused the bonking.

Total Time: 14:22hr

Post Race

I felt very disappointed with the race. Unhappy - no. But disappointed. I had trained hard for this race, and was hoping for a sub 13. But Bike leg took a lot out of me. I’m ofcourse grateful to have the chance to race this, and in the amazing city of Copenhagen. But I could have done better. Lot of lesson learnt - particularly the importance of staying aero on the bike and no backup plan for losing salt capsules.

The Hard Earned Medal
With some fellow Ironman

Till next race, then!


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