21-year old German Patrick Reger was the top age grouper at the 2017 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga in 4:07:21 and he did so despite being injured from from October 2016 until April of 2017. He was 10th overall at IRONMAN 70.3 Kraichgau in June but then focused on training. In Chattanooga on Sunday, September 10th he had a fine day and swam 29:34, biked 2:15:24 and ran 1:17:35 and we had a chat with him.
Slowtwitch: Thank you for your time.
Patrick Reger: I want to thank you for the opportunity to share my experiences about my race and Chattanooga itself on such a well known site.
ST: You recently returned to Germany from the United States after competing in the 70.3 World Championships, and I believe you received a big welcome when you got home.
Patrick: The reception was incredible. There was a big poster on the wall of my home that had been placed there by friends and family. Plus in our town square I was welcomed back by 20 musicians, various clubs, the mayor and about 170 other town people. What they organized in such a short period of time was impressive.
ST: Were you surprised?
Patrick: Absolutely. I was aware that something was planned for my return, but I obviously expected nothing along those proportions. Thus I was pretty much blown away.
ST: On that long overnight flight did you sleep or were you watching movies to pass time?
Patrick: I was able to sleep two to three hours, but I watched movies for the rest of the flight. Mostly I was happy that our plane actually took off, because of the approaching hurricane that was not certain.
ST: In June you finished 10th overall at IRONMAN 70.3 Kraichgau, a race Sebastian Kienle won. Can you talk about that race?
Patrick: Well, the race was actually not my best. I was pleased with the result but could not really show my full potential. I had been injured from October 2016 until April 2017 and could thus not do any run training and only able to do limited cycling. Considering I only trained for 4 weeks, the performance was very good, but without that break surely more would have been possible.
ST: What kind of injury did have?
Patrick: I had an edema on my right knee which did not really impact my daily life, but it hurt as soon as I ran.
ST: How much confidence did you gain from that Kraichgau experience, and what did you learn?
Patrick: I knew that if I stayed healthy until the World Championships that I would really improve my running and would this be clearly faster. I also learned that a half marathon could turn out to be an ugly experience when you attempt to chase down a run split that is not very realistic in that situation.
ST: What races did you do between that event and the 70.3 Worlds?
Patrick: None. I agreed with my coach Julian Kolatschek that after that long injury break that I should focus completely on training.
ST: How much time did you spend training during a week, as you got ready for this? And can you break it down in terms of swimming, cycling and running?
Patrick: That really depended - during easy weeks maybe 12 hours, and during hard weeks 15-20 hours. While at a training camp in Salzburg [Austria] with the coach of Andreas Giglmayr it was well more. Swimming wise I would say 11-14 km, cycling 180 to 300 km and running anywhere from 40-70 km per week.
ST: How much time training do you spend on your road bike versus your TT bike?
Patrick: I also race road bikes and thus spend a decent amount of time on my road bike. But when big events are looming such as the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships, then I ride my TT bike more often. I would say 75% TT bike and 25% road bike.
ST: When did you arrive in Chattanooga?
Patrick: I arrived late in the afternoon on Saturday, September 2. Without any problems my parents and I then drove with a rental car from the Atlanta Airport to our hotel in Chattanooga.
ST: What was your first impression of the town and the people?
Patrick: Everything I had previously heard about the Southern USA friendliness was spot on. Everyone was super friendly and everyone was extremely helpful.
ST: How about the course?
Patrick: Very demanding. Starting with the swim you could really feel the current during first half. In terms of the bike, that course profile surely suited me well. I am pretty light and compared to my swimming I am pretty good on the bike. The same is also true for the run, even though I had found respect for the elevation when I previewed the course.
ST: Going into the race what was your target?
Patrick: I was unfamiliar with the competition and thus had a hard time having a possible finish placement in my head. I looked up the results from the previous years and thus had an idea what would have to be done to place in the top 5 of the age group. And I thought that would be possible on a good day.
ST: Did you know anyone?
Patrick: I knew one other starter from Germany who like I had qualified for the 70.3 World Championships in Kraichgau.
ST: Did you feel good during the race?
Patrick: I did not feel bad at any point of the race. Even during the run I was able to maintain my pace 15 km into it, but it took obviously a bit more effort.
ST: With the wave start did you have any idea where you were?
Patrick: My parents told me after the swim that I was 28th and I passed a ton of folks during the bike segment, but only noticed 3 or 4 athletes from my age group. Once on the run I was told that I was in second position and that I was 2 minutes out from first place. When I reached the finish I was told that I won the age group. I was not sure however until I got the text message from my coach back in the hotel.
ST: Was there much traffic around you?
Patrick: Actually yes, as I caught up fast to the weaker athletes from the previous waves.
ST: Was it hard passing folks? And do you think you would have been much faster with no traffic around you?
Patrick: It was surely tight at times. There was quite a bit of traffic and the speed differences sometimes were vastly different. It was always tricky when you got to a section where 3 of or even 4 folks passed each other at the same time. That certainly slowed me down.
ST: You rode 2:15:24 on that course. What wattage were you averaging and how fast did you go on that descent?
Patrick: My numbers looked too high from the start and I think something with the calibration did not work properly. At the end I had 320 watts NP and an average of 299 watts. I think those numbers are 20-30 watts too high. I noticed during the first climb that I had to adjust my effort to be in the proper range. After that I rode mostly on feel and heart rate.
ST: What tires did you ride and please describe other details of your bike.
Patrick: I intended to ride with 25mm Continental Podium TT tubular tires but ended up with a flat during a course recon. I thus bought the last fitting tire in a bike shop. It was a Bontrager and that worked out just fine. My bike is a Canyon Speedmax with a mechanical Shimano Ultegra group and Zipp Firecrest wheels. I ride 175mm cranks, which I think is appropriate at my height of 185 cm. More important however is the perfect bike position, and here I was helped by Jürgen Schulz who handled the bike fitting.
ST: Have you been to a wind tunnel?
Patrick: No, no, I am not doing this sport so professionally. It all looked pretty good in pictures and videos, and the pressure maps of the saddle and foot bed also looked excellent. Jürgen did such a good job with the fitting that more was not necessary.
ST: The 1:17:35 time for the run was very solid. Were you happy with the time on that course?
Patrick: It was surely a very good run effort considering 5 weeks before the World Championships I was using crutches because of a different ankle injury. That one however thankfully subsided fast.
ST: Were you surprised to hear that an age grouper ran 1:11?
Patrick: When Julian informed me of that time I could not believe it. This is guy is incredible and ran just a minute slower than [Javier] Gomez. At the awards he said that he had a dream run and I really needed all the advantage I managed to get on the bike in that battle for the top age group spot.
ST: What is next for you?
Patrick: I would like to use my current good shape for a fast half marathon time and see what is possible there.
ST: What would make you happy?
Patrick: I am targeting a time of sub 1:10. If I will really be able to do that is difficult to predict, but it would be a fantastic end to this season. So I guess we will see what happens.
ST: When will you return to your Triathlon Team in Mengen?
Patrick: We soon have our end of season [event] and I will see all my buddies there again. The team had a very amazing season and finished 5th in the 1st Division Bundesliga. And we managed to do so without buying any superstars. [laughs]
ST: Is there anything else we should know?
Patrick: This was my first trip to the USA and certainly not my last one. I saw so many new and unfamiliar things and was fascinated by the people there, and that massive country. I also had a unique experience. While training for the race with an athlete from Israel I was almost taken out by a buck, and there was much more. I am thus looking forward to my next trip across the big pond.