Ironman Zurich 2014

On the 27th July 2014, six members from Tri Training Harder’s club toed the water on the banks of lake Zurich. However, to truly understand the significance of this moment in each of the athletes’ journey, we must look back as far as a year to see where unfinished business began....

Philip Hatzis, one of the head coaches at Tri Training Harder raced Ironman Zurich last year, only to reach the top of the first significant climb after 53km when his gears stopped working (fancy Di2's... enough said) forcing him to use just one gear (click here to read about it) in a cruel interval session before the marathon. His hopes of Kona qualification for 2013 were dashed.

Race team athlete Harry Eaton, had also attempted Zurich the year before but had to call it quits after the bike as he was only a few weeks from his main race of the year – the 70.3 World Championships and he had to conserve energy and fight the real battle in Las Vegas. This year Achilles Tendonitis and a collision with a box in the gym during training, meant his running was limited so he planned this year on racing only the first 15km of the run and walking the rest.

Coached athlete David Sweeney was signed up for his first ever Ironman in 2013 when illness stopped him from getting to the start line. Standing on the edge of lake Zurich on Sunday looking down the race course, he the usual first timer doubts. Cut offs were at the forefront of his mind.

Another coached athlete Adam Watts was looking to start his third Ironman here in Zurich. However, five weeks ago, a horrific road accident where a lorry’s wing mirror collided with his back in the UK not only sent him to hospital with horrendous injuries also meant he was unable to start. He would be instrumental as race support.

His fiancée Jo, also coached by us, had witnessed the accident and was first on the scene had questioned if she would race or not. Her disrupted training and a last minute illness meant she had an emotional journey to the start line!

Alan Ward, one of our coaches had done something to his toe during our final week in Portugal which put an end to what could have been a stellar performance after his run out in the European Championships in Kitzbuhel. His aim was to walk the run.

Fashion icon Mike Urban dons a poncho pre-race
Mike Urban had come to Portugal as a keen and talented endurance athlete. Under Mike “The Goat” Physio’s coaching had taken on a much more serious attitude towards his athletic career. There were no Jaegerbombs on this trip! He queued up at the start line with us all to begin his first ever Ironman.

In terms of results, special mentions must be made for Michael Urban and David Sweeney who both heard the immortal words: “You… are… an… IRONMAN…” for the first time. Harry completed the race in less than 12 hours with a flat tyre (which wouldn’t inflate) and walking 25km. Alan  dominated the bike course (it is much easier if you know you are only planning on walking the marathon) and blasted past Ironman World Champion Pete Jacobs* by over 30 minutes. Jo knocked 45 minutes of her PB (yes 45 minutes!) and Philip who qualified for the World Championships in Hawaii with a 4th place.

A huge thank you goes out to Adam, AJ and Harry’s parents who were on the ground supporting, and of course all the supporters watching from home. All the athletes valued and appreciated the support and shout outs when the going was tough.

Philip on his way to a personal best and Kona slot
*Pete Jacobs only needed a finish to qualify for Kona so he was plodding around this course... but no one needs to know that...


Philip Hatzis – 9:29:26 – PB 
Mike Urban – 10:48:15 – PB 
Harry Eaton – 11:38:23 – with a long walk in there!
Jo Griggs – 12:52:42 – PB
David Sweeney – 15:29:22 – PB
Alan Ward – 5:04 bike – who needs to see the rest?!