Johans IM Zurich

Race Reports, October 23, 2018

Johans shows that researching your upcoming race allows you to prepare both mentally and physically for the course and conditions.

My IM preparation for Zurich was quite different to my normal buildup as in most of my rides was done on the indoor trainer, which worked out well.

On one of these indoor sessions, flicking through You Tube I found a IM Zurich video. To my surprise, it was a non-wetsuit swim. 

Now swimming is not my favorite discipline and I spend the last 12months convincing myself that always swimming with a pull boy is ok as I will be in a wetsuit on race day.

To test out my non-pull boy swimming, my next trip to the pool (8 weeks from race day) ended with a serious case of panic.  My swimming times was seriously down, and I could barely do a 400m without feeling out of breath.

I soon started searching the internet for Zurich Lake temperature and the stats showed that the water temperature average around 25C in late July, (24.5C is the cut off for wetsuits).


Sticking to non-pull boy sessions, my swimming quickly adjusted, and I started to feel ok but kept praying for a wet suit swim as 3.8km in fresh water with no wetsuit scared the () out of me.


Any case, fast forward to race day and I hopefully packed my wetsuit in my bag and off we went.  We were met with a very friendly lady in transition repeating the phrase ..”good news today,  no wet suits today..” ?

I could feel my stomach sink….  I stood next to the shore with Yolandie putting up a brave face saying,  it is not that far….. is it?


Now I can tell you standing in the bunch getting ready for the swim in just your tri short is a very odd feeling.

I stood well back in the pack and just wanted to get this over with.  It ended up being one of my better swims, I normally have a quick stop halfway to take it all in, not this time, it was head down, bum up and paddle…

Getting out of the water I was extremely proud of myself, I won the first mental battle of the day, should be down hill from here.  ??

The bike course in Zurich is amazing, it starts with 30km flat section next to the lake, then you head out into the country and through small villages for a total of two laps.  There were some big climbs through the villages but you hardly notice them with the spectacular scenery.

The last big climb is 3km from the finish line and is lined with hundreds of spectators cheering you on.


The run is a 4-lap loop through the streets of Zurich.   The temperature was peaking at around 38C and I had a clear strategy to hit the salt tablets early at 20min intervals with a gel every 45min. 

I ended up having 5 tables in the first hour and a bit of a gel.  I could feel that the salt was too much for me to handle so I revised the plan and only used the gel.

At the aid stations the volunteers gave us ice and sponges which made me feel like the pro’s in Kona, (thanks You Tube), and i knew exactly which organs to cool down.


I felt great on run and had a strong finish.  The experience ended up being my most enjoyable IM to date..



My big take away from the race is that you should always research the race, if I had gotten to the start line not expecting the non-wet suit swim it would have seriously freaked my out and could have cost me my day.