It’s that time of the year again where Nice becomes host to the IRONMAN Triathlon! The athletes begin on the beach with a two loop 3.8km swim in the glorious blue waters of the Mediterranean sea. This is followed by a 180km bike ride through villages and mountains. Finally the athletes set off for a 42.2km marathon supported by the thousands of spectators who line the course.
We spoke with athlete and IRONMAN competitor Robert Desbarbieux ahead of this years competition
I decided to enter the Ironman competition a few years ago. Biking is my former sport, since I was 30 years old. I changed my job and wasn't able to ride my bike as often as I should. So I started running and entered the marathon competition in 2004. Swimming is my last sport, I started it by chance. One, plus one, plus one got me turned into a triathlete. As anyone, I started by short and long distance triathlons. Then, I joined my club Nice Cavigal Triathlon 10 years ago, and with a bunch of friends, we decided to participate to our first Ironman in Nice, as a challenge. We are all from Nice and love our city and the French Riviera area. Nice is such a great place for Ironman ! The bike course is amazing, within a few miles from the seaside you join the beautiful surrounding mountains. The landscape is breathtaking and the route is a real hard challenge.
Getty Images pour IRONMAN
How long before the event do you start to train and what’s your training routine like?
In fact, I never start training for Ironman. I'm used to train all year long. For Ironman I only increase my training in matter of time and make it harder. In winter my average training time is 08 hours per week and it turns into 15 to 20 hours weekly within 4 months before the race. Nothing specific, my main goal is to be ready for the D day and be able to suffer and enjoy my Ironman competition at the same time.
Which part of the competition do you find the most difficult and why?
The most difficult for me is the marathon. I'm not such a great runner. When the bike is over, it's hard to find the mental and physical strength to run. The Promenade des Anglais is beautiful, but the weather is so hot ! Thankfully all my friends and family will be there to cheer me up ! And I'll hope for a few clouds in the afternoon!
How many times have you competed in IRONMAN?
This year will my fourth distance Ironman . My second in Nice. The two others were in Vichy France and in Vitoria Gasteiz Spain.
What’s your most memorable memory of IRONMAN?
The most memorable memory is when I became an Ironman for the first time in Nice, my hometown where I'm born and where I live. It was incredible for me. The year before I was in the audience wishing to be one of the athlete and it was my turn ! Amazing !
How does it feel when you get to the finish?
Every race is different, but it's always such a relief to be a finisher. And try to enjoy this particular moment . I'm each time overwhelmed by so many feelings, suddenly my brain and my body reconnect. I can feel joy and pain. The very first minutes after the finish line I've no more energy, even for walking!
What do you do straight after the event?
I kiss my wife waiting for me right after the line with my medal. Stay with my friends and family. Join and/or wait for other competitors I know. And when I'm able to walk again, take my bags and bike and go home to rest.
How do you prepare yourself mentally?
I do not prepare me mentally precisely. I'm not stressed before, this is my wife's part. Lucky me! Living in Nice, I try to run and ride the courses as many times as I can. Knowing them perfectly makes me feel more relax and ready mentally.
We'd like to wish Robert and all of this year's competitors a fantastic race!
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