My Vineman Race Report

So far, 2007 has been an outstanding year for me in triathlon.

After setting an 8:51 PR (personal best time) at the Quelle Challenge in Roth in June, I just won the Vineman Full in a time of 9:17 – a new PR for me on this course. My splits:

  • Swim 00:59:42.2
  • T1 00:01:33.6
  • Bike 04:58:29.7
  • T2 00:01:27.1
  • Run 03:16:08.0
  • Finish 09:17:20.6


I received a call from Russ Pugh, the Vineman Race Director, a few months ago. Russ asked me, “Are you planning to come back to Vineman this year?”

“Absolutely,” I said.

“Great, we’d like to induct you into the Vineman Hall of Fame,” he replied.

My jaw dropped. As the Hall of Fame inductee, my image would be engraved on the back of all the finishers’ medals.

Unfortunately, The last two inductees into the Vineman Hall of Fame (Peter Kotland – multi-year winner and Scott Erba – course record holder) had both

DNF’d the year they were inducted. I did not want to continue the trend.

The field was strong this year with pro athlete Margus Tamm from Estonia, last year’s winner Bob Shebest and Brandon Del Campo from Boulder all very able and willing to take the top spot.
Photo: The calm before the storm (Photographer: Ryan Hall)

The Race

In my mind, there are three components to a successful Ironman-distance race: (1) Fitness, (2) Execution and (3) Mental Focus. All three are equally important.

(1) Fitness

My fitness was excellent this year. I had just set an 8:51 at Roth 6 weeks prior to Vineman. I had taken the time to recover and I felt good.

(2) Execution

I exited the swim in just under an hour – about five minutes back from the leaders. At the half way point on the bike, I was in second place and 7.5 minutes down on the leader. I stayed “in the zone” and kept pushing my big gear. With 2 miles to go, I saw the lead police vehicle and the lead rider (Margus Tamm). I dropped the hammer and blew by him in the last mile. I started the run in the lead and maintained it.

I can finally say that I “cracked the Ironman nut.” I executed this race flawlessly. Any hiccups – there are always hiccups – were addressed and I moved on. Roth was a near flawless race, but I failed to anticipate the unexpected heat, which led to me taking inadequate electrolytes on the bike and run resulting in cramping. I believe that the electrolytes cost me 5 minutes of time Roth and an 8:4X finish.

At Vineman, temperatures were expected to be somewhere in the 80’s on race day. I decided to start early with my electrolyte capsules (Endurolytes and Succeed). I popped a capsule 8x on the bike (every time I hit an aid station) then every 1-2 miles on the run. I started to cramp a few times on the run but quickly went away. I estimate that I consumed 25-30 capsules on race day (5 or 6 grams of sodium!). In spite of a cool morning, temperatures soared 90F on both the bike and the run. I heard the bike course even reached 102F on the climb up Chalk Hill. Consuming the electrolyte tablets paid off.

Another significant change that I made from Roth was to not wear a watch, heart rate monitor or any other type of electronic sensing device. I raced purely on sensation. It worked! I enjoyed not having the distractions of a heart monitor strap chafing, a cadence sensor reading incorrectly or the frustration of riding only 18 mph into a headwind.

(3) Mental Focus

I achieved a state of flow about an hour into the bike (same as Roth). Time seemed to have no meaning. I was “in the moment” and stayed that way for much of the race.


Vineman continues to be one of my favorite events – the course is challenging and beautiful, the volunteer support is outstanding and the crated boxes of wine make for the best awards – visually and functionally! I walked away with a super magnum-sized bottle of 2005 La Crema Pinot Noir – which is a very nice wine!

A special thanks to all the folks at the Vineman World Headquarters: Russ, Amy, Dave, Brad, Mike, Jim, Kay, Jamie plus the hundreds of other staff and volunteers that make this event so special!