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Race Report - Busso IM 2023 - Conor, you are an Ironman

Updated: May 17

Race recap of Ironman Busselton and memory maker, bit of a long one.

The idea had been floating for quite a while and in February 2023 a quiet entry to Busselton Ironman was purchased. After finishing Sunny Coast 70.3, Busso was the focus. The training alone was a definite step up…how much would the whole event be a step up for me? A bout a month out my left ITB had been playing up big time and every time I ran it hurt. Finishing a marathon was a legitimate concern.

After two beautiful flat mornings at the beach for prep, race morning the wind was already starting and the water was starting to get choppy. I started to the front of Zone 3 and walked into the water for the start of a long day. Water temp a little chilly, but lovely and clear. I started doing my own thing staying relaxed and calmly attacking the 3.8km. I was surprised that I started to overtake my group and was soon overtaking the next group. Loved going under the jetty, pity it was only once. Feeling the distance slowly swim by I surprisingly swam past a lot of other people. Surely I’m only overtaking the people doing the second lap. I was nervous coming in to the ‘half way’ exit, which turned out to be a breeze and a good reset/replacement for the usual halfway stop for a chat. The second lap there was more of an on shore current push and had to really concentrate on sighting as I watched others going so wide they were almost on the beach.

I made it to land and started up the beach to the Roffey cheer squad knowing stage 1 was done. Running into transition I surprised Courtney and Ashley at how early I was out. I later found out that I had been expecting about 1h30m but had pulled a 1h11m. Met Mark Napper in T1 and got prepped for the long ride.

For the ride all I had to do was stay in my heart rate range and cadence, the speed would sort itself out, and with the head wind building it will be what it will be. With the course doubling back on itself often I got to see Adam and Mark quite a few times which was a welcome sight. I worked out that the aid stations were about 23km apart and used this as a back up guide for my nutrition. Having not done the course or driven it before it was all new and it didn’t take long till I had no idea where I was. Distance ticked over and so did the aid stations. The wind was constant and it felt like the only relief was the 10 second roll before every turn around. Lap one was done and I was feeling stiff and sore in places. Lap 2 was going to be… You’d think I’d have a better idea of the course this time, nope! It just never seemed to end, just flat with trees, other cyclists and wind. The only relief was each aid station meant I was 23km closer than the last one. A massive shout out to the volunteers, the mess they had to clean up as well as the life saving nutrition and water. Cold water out the back of the second lap never felt/tasted so good. Slammed half a bottle down and felt better, didn’t realise I hadn’t been down a bit. I’d been keeping to my nutrition plan and had even got slightly ahead.

HR was starting to rise and stay up, it felt too slow and harder to bring the cadence down to try and lower the HR. I just had to monitor it and stay put. With 30km to go I was hoping I’d be able to push the headwind back into town and not burn my legs before the run. Another aid station gone and kms slowly ticking away I could feel it getting closer. The direction headed to town and I had to stick to the plan, as it would end soon I couldn’t end this any quicker without later detriment. The sweet, sweet last straight with the turning roundabout came into view. After seeing so many unfortunate mechanicals I had made it. I racked my bike and made it to T3.

Grabbed my gear bag and sat in T3, I took a moment and tried not to punch the air. I’d just finished the ride of an Ironman and only had the run to go. All I had to do was survive and there was plenty of time as I’d taken 6h4m to complete the 180km windy, never ending ride. On with the running gear, more sunscreen and a cup of lovely chilled water, of which I would regret. I headed out making sure I didn’t get carried away and go faster than 6min pace, this was a survival marathon. With all the cheering and support that didn’t last long. But away from the main section I caught myself and brought reality back in keeping a comfortable run up. I’d walk aid stations, thanked supporters and high fived any kids with hands out.

Heading up the coast left the main strip and got into the ‘burbs’, it was quiet, it was a dead zone where everyone was doing their own thing. At the end was the turn around and…that ever present friend the head wind. One down and only three of these to go. On the way to other end I passed the finish line, the spectators and cheer squads. I got cheers from Courtney, the Roffey cheer squad before the other turn around. So that was 10km done, only three of these bad boys to go. I still hadn’t consumed anything cause of that cup of water and last bit of nutrition. Time to suck it up and see what happens. Onto the Margarita cliffbloks and water. Ok I can do this water thing now. But now to deal with this nipple chaffing, thank goodness for Vaseline at the aid stations. That stuff is amazing, but needed topping up. I got into a fairly comfortable rhythm and would run between aid stations. Uh oh, new stomach problems. This is a new one, after several kms I realised it was not my stomach but my abs and obliques that were in pain. Ok, good, I’ll risk a gel. A couple of times I stopped for a quick word with Courtney, got encouragement from the cheer squad, the public, Mark and Adam also gave shout outs as we would go past each other. All helped along the way until the last lap as I started to walk between aid stations. Stretches got longer and longer. Leg pain and stomach pain were always there. All I had to do was make it, the sun was still up and I had till midnight. There was no way I wasn’t going to make it. I started on coke for the first time in any race and waited to see what would happen.

The dead zone took an age to reach the end of with a walk, run strategy. One of the volunteers handing out gels in the dead zone shook my hand and congratulated me on my last lap for my first Ironman…what a legend. I turned into that bloody head wind again. Knowing it was my last time I started a little jog that turned into a run and kept going. I didn’t have to walk between aid stations. I kept this up just counting down the kms, I had less than 5 by now. A park run to go till I’d be on the red carpet. No stopping now, I ran to town and waved to Courtney for the last time. On the way in Dane emerged again from his new habitat..the pub..and started calling out ‘You’re going to be an Ironman!’ As a wave washed over me I held up 3 fingers, 3kms to go. I can do this, just hold it together for one last turn around. Less than 20 minutes is all you need to do. Running that last section, what a triumph there were so many walkers and here I was about to finish an ironman and was still able to ‘run’. One last aid station before the finish, I'd better slow down at this one to make sure Courtney could make it to the finisher’s carpet.

Final stretch, into the crowd and the cheering and the music. This was now for me, I was going to make it, this was all drawing me to that carpet. The slow run pace started to quicken, a rejuventated comfortable pace came through and that last turn was just ahead. I turned the corner into a blast of light and colour. I walked up to that bell and smacked the shit out of it. Found Courtney and gave her a big sweaty, salty hug. Then I turned to that finishers arch and calmly trotted over the finish line. I’ve been told they called out ‘Conor Burton you are an Ironman’ It’s all a bit of a blur.

Team Roffey were there to cheer and collect evidence. I’d taken 4h38m for the run and a total 12h16m55s to become an Ironman

What an endeavour! Thank you to Dane and Donna Roffey who supported on their holiday. Thank you to Sally and Jen for supporting after your race. Cheers Mark and Adam for the support and call outs on the course. Thank you Belgravia Masters Swim Team for letting me join your masters sessions. Cheers Courtney and Michael for the check ins and advice. A huge thanks to the SSG MultiSports community for your advice, joining in on training sessions and genuine support. A massive thank you to Danielle for building the body, the planning, prep and advice. OK yes it may have taken a while   

And finally I couldn’t have done it without your support Courtney. All the early starts I had, the missed dog walks, the long days away from home or the afternoons off training. Thank you.

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