2019 ISLXTRI Race Report : Pétur Guðnason

RACE REPORT DISCLAIMER: Race reports are provided by athletes and are not edited for content.


2 Imodium, 3 slices of bread, orange juice, coffee, gear in the car and off we go. My first long distance triathlon and my first extreme triathlon 2 hours from getting kicked off. Nervous? A little bit. However, right from the sound of the alarm 2AM that morning I knew I was ready. We came at T1 and had plenty of time to put up the bike and all the gear needed to complete the 180k bike leg. My fiancée, Berglind was my support that day with absolutely zero experience in Triathlon. I put on the swim gear and did some warm up before walking down to the start line. At this point there was no stress left, just excitement to start the race and perform towards a goal. A real goal I set half a year ago with so many hours of training in all kinds of conditions. It was still dark and cold. Swim was set to about 3500m with 3800m flag to flag.

Swim: 4AM the gun went off and we, 52 people ran into the water. I took the lead in the swim quite early on and felt great having the next two guys 20-30 meters behind. 1K into the swim another guy was already swimming aside, and I was losing speed. I managed to hang on to the leader and finished the swim 2nd overall at the pace of 1:41/100m and a time of 58:35. TSS 77. Quite much slower than expected but I put no thoughts into that due to my position. Running straight into T1 with Berglind felt great, one discipline down, not cold and not tired.

T1: 8:10. The plan for the bike was, wet Tri suit, thin wool layer, bike jersey short sleeved, reflective west and a rain jacket, thin hat, gloves and neoprene over the shoes. This ultimately left me to two types of weather condition on the bike, moderate rain and no rain. Keeping the jacket on if it rained and stopping and taking it off if no rain. Well, I kept the jacket on the entire course, losing time on the bike in the headwind.

Bike: First out of T1, adrenaline pumped in, not cold and ready to head out on the empty roads. Started according to plan maintaining 220-230w. Tail/side wind from the right the next 40-50K and I never got an eye on the second place. I knew the happy days were over soon and the headwind would start to blow in at any moment. It happened, and BOOM, suddenly I was not moving forward. I started to look back to see if someone was getting close. I did not see anybody. I kept pounding that bike, 220-230w with avg of 220w at this point. I was passing my support according to plan. Started to get some pain in the lower torso at 65-70k. Yelled at Berglind to prepare some painkillers for the rolling stop at 90k. At 80k she had stopped the car, side wind from hell which nearly blew me off the road, she had all my nutrition in her hands, but I wasn’t prepared for that stop since it was planned a bit later. She said: here is your stuff and I said what? she said, the car is stuck, and I replied: WTF! Well I had passed my support and she was stuck with my nutrition . I started to think, I knew my nutrition would last until 120K and worst-case scenario till the end but that would mean serious deficit in power. Soon I passed Icelandic support crew and asked them to check on her and worst-case scenario pick up my nutrition and running shoes for T2. I managed to get my phone and call her on the bike to calm her down and tell her the plan. The support crew that helped, was Geir´s team (ISLXTRI winner). They managed to hand me the nutrition later and I was good to go. At 100-110k I was still in the lead but was starting to see two guys in the rear, which later turned out to be Geir, the winner and 2nd place Raphael. I thought I would try to maintain the lead on the bike even if it would cost me suffering on the run. It meant something to me. It would proof few things, one what condition I was in on the bike and 2nd how I would manage the transition to the run, and the run itself. When we came down the climb at 130K the guys were close. From that point the gap increased again, and I kept the lead till the end. At 170k at the middle of the biggest descend, the chain popped off at 80 km/hr. Stop and lose the lead or try to fix the chain back on the crank at that speed? I stopped pedaling and when I was at 50 km/hr I started to move the pedals trying to pop the chain back on. With some luck I managed to do it without a stop. NP 217w (3w/kg), 5:15, elv gain 1387 m. TSS 350.

T2: 3:03. Changed some clothes and got into my gear. I knew it would rain and it would be cold. Gear check in T2 from the volunteers prolonged my time in there.

Run: Off from T2 in the lead but soon I heard the breath of Geir in the back. We ran parallel for the next 1K or so and then he said goodbye. As soon as I started to climb my lower back muscles started to get pumped up. I started to slow down….and slow down. I looked back and saw Raphael Vorpe approaching. The thoughts went through, my ego was blown away and I started walking. The pain was unbearable on the run, every step it was like a knife was put in my back. I started massaging my back with my knuckles. I rang Berglind and asked her to meet up with me at the turning point with some painkillers. I reached the top somehow still maintaining 3rd place, at 13k and 800m climb, but Geir and Raphael they were gone. I started the descend, my back was fine and my humor came back. Speed was good and I was back in the game. At 19K, I met Geir and he was smiling like always, told me the gap was not big, I should put my head in the game and catch the 2nd place. That moment was priceless and gave me fuel to keep on going. What an athlete and fighter Geir is. At the turning point I met my support, with some painkillers and nutritions. The second climb was ahead, and the struggle began. All the way to the top, 9k and 800m of climb I suffered, I had simply no power to maintain proper speed. The temperature went from 16 degrees to 5 and visibility perfect to zero. I reached the top, looked back, saw nobody and I started the descending. I did not even stop at nutrition point at 32k, I felt great. I passed many runners which was really inspiring and gave energy to finish. Approaching Olafsvík, I started to realize the goal was about to complete. Under 11 hours in top 3, just like the plan. Run time 4:26:24. 6:15/km. elv. Gain 1600m. TSS 250.

This race would not have been possible without the support of Berglind, my son Úlfur, my parents and the rest of my family. All the hours of training, sacrifices and struggles along the way would have been impossible to overcome without this support – thanks. Thanks to all competitors, volunteers, and organizers of IslXtri. An event I will never forget. This was just the start!

ABOUT PÉTUR: Father of Úlfur (Wolf) and a fiancé to Berglind. With a background in swimming from 5-15 years and handball from 9-19 years I started triathlon in 2017. With premier triathlon, an Olympic one in September 2017 I have done some sprints and two half IM distances along the way. Educated as an automotive technician, bachelor in Mechatronic Engineering and Masters in Quality and Operations Engineering, I run my own Business Operations Consultancy firm in Iceland.