Fog and strong currents on race day were significant enough that the Haeundae Beach swim course was shortened to approximately 1km but this didn’t phase Collington as he and the swim leader, New Zealand’s Guy Crawford, quickly opened up a 43 second gap on the rest of the field. “Bad weather seems to follow me around on my race schedule so of course I woke up to rain and thunderstorms on race morning in Busan!”
The deceptively hard bike course traversed numerous hills, descents and technical sections along the coastal road and industrial parks requiring a lot of focus navigating the bike through the rainy streets of Korea. Collington’s strategy was to break the race apart on the bike. “I knew there were some fast runners behind us so I really wanted to hit the bike course hard and open a gap, and fortunately Guy and I were able to work together to do just that. By the 50k mark the gap opened up to 4 minutes on Columbian Rodrigo Acevedo and 7 or 8 minutes to a group including Sweden’s Fredrik Croneberg and Australian Ben Cook. Unfortunately for Guy, he double punctured at 50k so I was left alone for the last 40k of the bike course.”
On the second half of the bike, the rain stopped and the sun came out along with 100% humidity and rising temps for the remainder of the race. With a comfortable gap on the riders behind, Collington dialed back the intensity for the last portion of the bike course to focus on nutrition. “At first it was temperate and rainy but by the end of the run it was devastatingly hot and humid – I definitely had to be smart about my nutrition. After putting out such big efforts at the beginning of the bike and getting my lead I had to refocus on my nutrition when the sun came out and the temperature started to rise. It was a good experience because I think Kona will have similar hot conditions.” Rolling out a race best ride was sufficient to put Collington in good position heading into T2, over 2 minutes up on Acevedo & 7 and a half minutes on Croneborg.
Battling the heat, Collington said “On the run it was all about managing myself in the heat and getting the nutrition down so I didn’t blow up. I had another 300 calories of EFS Liquid Shot plus I made sure to walk through every aid station and get the fluids down.” Holding strong to the finish line, Collington broke the tape for his first Ironman 70.3 victory with a margin of 2 minutes 15 seconds on Acevedo & 4 minutes 16 seconds on the fast running Croneborg.
Following a string of top 5 finishes so far this season, Collington said
“It was a tough day all around and I’m so happy to finally get a win at the 70.3 distance – I have too many 2nd places on my resume! It was a great way to cap off the first half of 2016.”
Collington plans to enjoy a much needed two week break from structured training and world travels before his next race, Challenge Iceland on July 23rd, then the training focus will be firmly on Kona in October.
Ironman 70.3 Busan
1 Kevin Collington 4:06:27
2 Rodrigo Acevedo 4:08:42
3 Fredrik Croneborg 4:10:43