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Mon 17th Jun 2019
© Ryan Bowd
Philip Graves: Wimbleball report
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Friday 22nd June 2012

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Philip Graves first won Ironman 70.3 UK, Wimbleball in 2009, and we have his race report on that debut win in our archives HERE.

Fast forward three years and Phil won at Wimbleball again this year. To keep that symmetry, here are his words on the 2012 race.

Check out at the links at the bottom of this page to view our extensive coverage of the 2012 Wimbleball event.

Back from another trip down to Wimbleball for 70.3 UK and it's so nice to come back with a win under the belt.

I know a lot was written and expected for this race this year with the prospect of everyone who had ever won on that now infamous course around the rolling Exmoor countryside racing. At the end of the day you can only race who turns up and even with no Chris McCormack and no Mikel Elgezabal there was still almost every single GB pro middle distance athlete on the line, as well as some really good continental pros too.

I have got into a 70.3 UK routine by now; drive down Friday, ride the course Friday night, spend Saturday doing a little bit of training and doing all those race day essentials, and then try and win the race Sunday before coming home again in the evening. It has been bad these last two years, rain, wind and just awful cold, and after last year when I got really bad hay fever and breathing problems that kept me out the race, I insisted we take the caravan so there was at least somewhere dry to go over the weekend.

Phil Graves, Wimbleball 2012 winner ©Ryan BowdI'll be honest, everything went swimmingly Friday and Saturday, even some of the cars in the car park I think felt they were in a huge puddle rather than a field but it all adds character to the event I suppose! So, as with every weekend, Sunday morning came around soon enough and it was into my warm up routine, run, wetsuit on, swim warm up, start. This year because of the drought we have been experiencing the lake was its fullest I have ever seen it in four years and it was certainly the coldest at 14 degrees. The start was all a bit odd, we were held for ages in the water, the national anthem played, ended, and we were all still sculling water waiting for the horn to go when Paul Amey looked behind and seeing all the age groupers had already started swimming let out a cry of ‘they've started' to which we all just started swimming as hard as we could.

The quality of swimming on the UK circuit is certainly impressive and this was perhaps the hardest swim I've ever done in a 70.3. With the likes of Harry Wiltshire and Fraser Cartmell pushing the pace on I really only had to sit in their wake, hope I didn't get dropped, make sure we were going the right way, and in turn I managed to come out with them and Mark Threllfall in 22 and a half minutes. The huge hill out of the swim to T1 certainly doesn't get any easier but I had a good transition and set off in pursuit of Fraser who went out like a scalded cat.

Phil Graves, Wimbleball 2012 winner ©Ryan BowdFraser is a great athlete but his riding really impressed me, I could see him in front and he had a gap of 20ish seconds but it took me a full 10 miles of hard riding to pass him. It is testament to him that he managed to sit on and before we took a 90 degree left hander half way round the first lap that brings you into the major climbing, we had already averaged over 40 kmph in 15 miles with at least 450m of vertical climbing. I tried to just ride controlled and after managing to drop Fraser on one of the descents went to task to build up a big lead which went out to 5min 30seconds by the time I had reached T2.

Would that be enough for me to hang on for the win on the run? In short, yes. I felt good on the first 7km lap of the run and the gap I think stayed the same, then the second lap was slightly slower….then I completely blew my doors off on the last lap. My legs went to bits, I had a really bad patch when I just wanted to have a nice lie down in a hedge somewhere but I kept plodding along and with about 4k I go, and with no one in sight, I could finally relax a bit and get on with just getting myself over that line.

Phil Graves, Wimbleball 2012 winner ©Ryan BowdI've definitely started a new thing at the finish. If I'm leading I'm not going to mess around, I just want to get myself over the line then I can fanny around all I like, or collapse and have that lie down on some soft carpet which is the reality of Sunday for me. It was a mix of joy and relief as I went over that line. I was so happy; honestly, to win a 70.3 race is a huge achievement but your home 70.3, even better. The relief however…well I have been training as hard as I ever have done before and I knew I was in the form of my life so to actually go out there and put in a performance that my training has been telling me I'm capable of, it's just a relief that I can still get past that finishing line first!

So yes, all-in-all a great weekend's work, I couldn't have asked for any more. I also enjoy the superb atmosphere these races develop over race day. I feel there is much more a link between the pro WTC athletes and the Age Groupers than the ITU athletes and the Age Groupers; it's a component of our sport that makes it so great. Onto the next one now for me and Ironman Austria in the 1st July.

Phil Graves: Post-race

Wimbleball 2012 Coverage

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