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Race Report - Ironman World Champs Nice 2023 - Marty the machine

Updated: May 19

By Martin Schett


After a week stop over in Austria with the family to get over the jet lag and get acclimatized we arrived in Nice on Wednesday after a 2-day drive from Austria and a stop over in Milan.

Nice and the esplanade looked stunning, and I was getting pretty excited to finally be here. Our accommodation was central and easy to get around, walking to all the Ironman check in and the race precinct. Spent the next few days taking it easy and doing a few easy rides, swims and runs. The athlete’s parade on Thursday was pretty special, a team shot with the Austrian team and got to meet a few Austrians and to really make it special even got to walk with the Austrian flag right behind my Aussie mates.


The welcome banquet and race briefing was a bit disappointing; The food was cold and would have expected more of Ironman France.


Easy ride and run Saturday morning to pick up a baguette for carb loading to make sure the bike was all smooth. A final check up and tightening up of the bike and did a short, guided tour of the town with Thomas, I bailed after an hour and had lunch, and back to the apartment for a rest and final packing of the transition bags. Made it in by 4 to the bike racking and it was huge there. But all went smooth, all volunteers were very helpful, and I had a good spot for my bike and set up all ready for the big day. I felt relaxed and ready and was rested and felt strong as the training came together really well the last few final weeks. Had some massive training weeks leading into it but the final 2 weeks of taper after the big flight and recovery from jetlag went well and the buzz around town was fantastic.


Early pre-race dinner with ravioli and baguette, chocolate ice cream and early bed for a good rest. Not much sleep happening and at 3.45 I was ready to finally execute race day. Good porridge as usual to start off and my No. 1 supporter Thomas was having a big night out and just came home in time to get out the door and heading down to the check in!! Ah, good to see he is living the life. I knew what to do and had my race morning plan all written out and that calmed my nerves. Entering the check in area we got our bags searched and everyone got thoroughly checked. Security and police presence in Nice was always very high. Surprise News at 5.00 am that I didn’t want to hear. No wetsuit swim! Anyway went to get the bike ready, final toilet stop didn’t take to long at the port a loo’s and made my way to the beach. Gulped down the pre-swim gel and I found Thomas to hand him the pump and I was all ready to get the show started. Even saw Charles for a final catch up and a hug and wishing him all the best for a great race. Legs started to tighten up with the pre race nerves and did a few stretches to calm down.


Swim was a mass start, 220 athletes in the water heading off all at the same time and it was hectic from the beginning like I have never experienced. The swim went well. I tried to hang on to some feet as good as I could and that worked pretty well. The swim was easy to orientate as it was straight out and then in and repeat again. The water was calm and clear and blue as the Cote d’ Azure promised. Swim felt fast and especially at the buoys there was a wrestling of feet and hands, left, right and over me but I got through all right and used my old waterpolo tactics... Up onto the rocky beach and so many volunteers helping to get out quickly with a carpet laid on the pebbles to run up to transition. Transition went well and quick, didn’t rush but got myself sorted properly to head onto the ride. Found the bike quickly and off I was. My legs felt really strange after the swim. Lots of little cramps and tightness in all areas. WTF. It took about 20 km to loosen up and warm up again and then I felt ok and muscles relaxed. However that ride…10 km in and the hills started. For about 10 km it was relentless and uphill with some good biters. Then it went flat and up and down until about 40 km. That’s when the fun really started. For the next 20 km it was brutal up hills and getting hot. I just wanted to get the job done and tick off the km and had a good ride and was focusing on keeping up my nutrition. I was definitely ready for the hills and loved it. The plan was a bottle of the Infinit hydration every 2 hours with water, and a Maurten gel each hour and that worked ok. I kept up the water from the aid stations to keep cool and also took 2 salt tablets to be on top of things. But about 2 hours in I started to get a bit of stomach cramps and took a bottle of Gatorade hoping that would ease things, which eventually got better again. Special needs bags was at about the 80 km mark and I picked up my third Infinit bottle, I wanted to keep the bike lighter that way, had my usual snickers bar but did not feel like the red bull I had waiting there as well. From here on the scenery was just breath taking. Beautiful views, narrow roads on descents with only small concrete barriers at the edges, and cliffs going a long way down that took full focus! A few more good uphill's at about 120 km and then from 140 km on it was magnificent downhills. I took it steady on the uphills trying to save the legs and knew I can make up time on the downhill. The roads were narrow and I tried to stay inside the lane as there was no way I wanted to get a DQ. I enjoyed riding hard downhill and picked up good speed, and we went through many small villages and got used soon to the speed bumps and crossings and roundabouts.


Everything was generally well signposted when it got to sharp corners, there was also plenty of police keeping the race lane clear, which made it pretty safe generally. What was worse was inexperienced riders on the downhills going slow and staying in the middle lane. I had to keep yelling out asking them to move right…. The longer I rode the better I felt and finally got back into Nice riding down the main stretch into T2. That ride was stunning, brutal, beautiful and breathtaking. And well worthy of a world champs. Really glad we hit the hills hard in our training. Thanks Charles!

A quick transition and found my running legs pretty quickly. I knew it would be a hot run (33’C) and was all set on keeping cool and used Infinit tempo gel in my 2 bottles on my belt, which I nearly used up over the course. I was starting off on about 5.15 pace for a while and did drop off to as low as 5.50 at some stage but managed to pick it up a bit again towards the end and had 5.39 pace average. Not my best but considering the course and heat I was happy enough. Had a mixture of water and ice to keep cool and topped up with some Gatorade, coke and even some Red Bull once which didn’t taste good at that stage of the race. Mainly Infinit tempo gel and water kept me going and gave it all I had left in the tank and survived well on a hot afternoon. Happy that I managed to still pull it all out and not give in but did generally feel pretty good on the run and the atmosphere was electric. A 4 - lap course always suits me and I find it easy to break down the run like this. Once I hit halfway it seemed to go into autodrive and then I also spotted Thomas and my sister Lisi on the run which lifted my spirits immensely. Once I was on the last lap I tried to give it a good final hard push to finish strong and used all my mantras and enjoyed that last lap. On the last 2 km I knew I had it made, and I heard the finish line excitement, and I was elated and glad that I got it done. I knew it would be all about the hilly ride and with the heat it’s never a given to finish in a good state. I was definitely done, and had not much left in my tank. At the finish chute I soaked up that amazing atmosphere and saw Lisi and got the Austrian and Australian flag to run in and Thomas was there as well and the emotions that were bottled up for so long is indescribable. Got some photos and finally got to sit down, chatted to some other finishers and tried to get some food at the recovery area which unfortunately was not that good. But after a day of electrolytes and gels my stomach was feeling too churned up anyway.


Met up with Thomas and Lisi and got my bike and gear and had the usual post-race pizza and soaked up the finish line elation.


Thank you to so many people who are needed to get me through all the training and to race day in good shape. My coach Jan Wanklyn who designed the training fitting in around my busy life and again set the bars very high to get me fit for this epic race. My training buddy’s Charles and Thinus thanks for sharing the fun and long rides. Everyone in the Redcliffe Tri Club and Moreton Bay Road runners for many training sessions. And of course, my patient wife and family who endured my long training days. Finally, my number one race day supporter Thomas who again came all the way with me to help me get through a hectic race and knows by now what is needed to race well.


Thank you Nice for a wonderful experience. Absolutely loved it. The French did their very best to be wonderful hosts and make us all feel very welcome. Couldn’t think of a better place to carb load……and race of course.

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