Top local triathlete Jasper Mr. Mikkelsen qualified for the Ironman World Championships over the weekend.
He participated in Ironman Louisville in Kentucky on Sunday and clocked an amazing time of 9h49 for the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. The time was good enough for fifth place in his age group, but more importantly it netted him one of the coveted golden tickets – an invitation to compete in the Ironman World Championships held annually in Kona, Hawaii. For an athlete competing in only his second Ironman triathlon, this was an amazing result.
Only 1,800 athletes from around the globe participate in the annual event and qualification is extremely tough. However, as Kona is the home of Ironman triathlon, every athlete dreams of making the pilgrimage there.
With close on 3,000 athletes registered to compete in the Louisville event, Mr. Mikkelsen was certain to face a stiff challenge for the limited Kona slots available, as only the top eight athletes in his age group would be invited.
Race day dawned with relatively cool weather and almost perfect racing conditions for all the competitors.
‘I think we were lucky with the weather this year,’ said Mr. Mikkelsen. ‘Last year, temperatures peaked above 90, but this year I don’t think we went much above 80.’
The swim took place in the Ohio River, with around a third of the course being swum against the current and the rest with the current. However, swimming in the river was somewhat different to swimming in Cayman, as Mr. Mikkelsen reported that the visibility was absolutely zero, very far removed from the underwater scenery that characterises an open water swim in Cayman.
In spite of the limited visibility, the assistance of the current on the way into the finish resulted in some very good swim times, with Mr. Mikkelsen exiting the water in 1h02 and in 117th position overall.
Mr. Mikkelsen has often demonstrated his cycling strength in local events and cut a swath through the field, moving up into 34th overall by the end of the bike leg and completing the 112 miles in 5h09 for an average speed of almost 22 miles per hour.
With only the marathon distance run standing between Mr. Mikkelsen and his aim of completing the event in under ten hours, he pushed as hard as he could, finishing the marathon in 3h29 for 46th place overall. More importantly, this meant that he came in well under the ten hour barrier, in 9h49.
‘I knew my bike split was fairly fast and when I reached the half marathon point in just under 1h40 minutes, I felt confident that I would achieve my
target time,’ said Mr. Mikkelsen.
The event did take its toll on Mr. Mikkelsen, as he suffered cramps in his hip flexor muscles as well as stomach cramps.
‘The second half of the marathon pushed my perseverance to the limit. The last mile my stomach started cramping and I crossed the line in a hunched-over running position. It can’t have been a pretty sight,’ he recalled.
He had to receive fluids via an intravenous drip in order to recover from the cramping. However, the Kona qualification made it all worthwhile.
‘It’s a near impossible dream come true. Absolutely amazing. I’m so
happy that all the hard work and sacrifice has paid off,’ he said.
Qualifying for Kona will mean that Mr. Mikkelsen will have no time to rest. He will have to continue training hard for the foreseeable future, as the event takes place on 10 October, leaving him less than six weeks to try and reach the best form of his triathlon career.
‘I’m hoping that my current fitness will carry me through. I don’t intend to try for a new personal best in Kona. I will still race fairly hard, but my main goal will be to enjoy the experience,’ said Mr. Mikkelsen.
Even with Kona to look forward to, Mr. Mikkelsen is already looking at future challenges.
‘All the training carries with it a lot of sacrifice, especially of family time. But once you have been bitten by the endurance bug it is difficult to stop. Who knows maybe there is swim across the English
Channel in my future.’