Heading into the first full IRONMAN event of his career, Robert Kallin’s aim was to simply gain experience in Florida earlier this month.
Instead, the towering Swede ticked off one of his major goals by qualifying for next year’s 2022 IRONMAN World Championship in Kona.
Kona box ticked
With both Gustav Iden (as 70.3 World Champion) and Lionel Sanders (from second place at IRONMAN Chattanooga) already qualified for Hawaii, Kallin claimed a coveted spot thanks to his third-place finish. He, along with fourth-placed Arnaud Guilloux (FRA) – the 2019 IRONMAN Wales champion – earned his start at Dig Me beach on October 8 next year.
Kallin also came close to ticking off his other major bucket list aim – he clocked 8:08:12 after looking at one stage like he might break eight hours on his debut at full distance.
Robert had already advertised his credentials at middle distance in 2021, grabbing second at IRONMAN 70.3 Gdynia in August before finishing 12th at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship at St. George in September.
Now he has also demonstrated his considerable potential over the full distance too, and is certainly not resting on his laurels. Still just 26 years of age and a novice at the distance, we probably won’t have to wait too long until the Swedish athlete ticks off that sub-eight hour finish either.
“I have two big bucket list goals for long distance – one is to qualify for Kona and the other is to go under eight hours,” he said on Mikal Iden’s YouTube channel. “My expectation was to gain experience for the IRONMAN distance race.”
Kallin Florida debrief
Reflecting on events in Panama City Beach, Kallin revealed that he was hoping to reach the start of the 42.2km run with plenty of gas in the tank.
“Since it was my first one, I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but I was pretty confident with my swim and bike ability, so the plan was to start the run a bit fresh. I raced it according to plan in the swim and bike and the first lap of the run, then it started to be really hard on the second lap.”
Kallin explained that timings were put to the back of his mind over the first two legs, but after a rapid stint on the bike he thought he may go sub-eight hours.
However, rough waters had made for challenging conditions on the swim, with Kallin registering a relatively slow 57:59 despite leading the field into T1.
“I actually didn’t think about the time at all during the swim or the bike, but when I started the run I looked at what the time was and tried to calculate how much time I spent on the swim, because I knew the time on the bike.
“I calculated the swim must have taken almost an hour and I was pretty shocked because with a 4:04 (4:03:58) bike split I thought I would have more time for the run to go under eight hours.”
“After the second half I tried to help Lionel push my watts a bit higher to keep the pace and extend our lead so I don’t think that the bike was so hard, it went according to plan if you look at my watts numbers, so it was a good bike day.”
Dehydration hampered run
Kallin would eventually fall back from Iden and Sanders on the run, clocking a 3:00:05 for the leg as he faded over the latter stages – something he believes may have come down to a lack of fluids.
“It was pretty cold at the beginning, then the temperature rose in the end. And when I look back I maybe should have tried to drink a bit more water at the end of the bike and the first lap of the run, because I think that at the end of the run I had a bit of dehydration.”
Despite his laudable display in Florida, Kallin admitted that had prioritised the 70.3 World Championship for 2021, begging the question of how much more ability he can unlock with dedicated full-distance training.
“I haven’t focused on the IRONMAN distance for so long, so for my next one I will focus on the IRONMAN distance. My main goal for this US trip was to do good in the 70.3 World Championship, so I have focused on IRONMAN distance since then.
“It hasn’t been many weeks since that race so I guess that I would have done more specific IRONMAN training. Longer bike training sessions, more long runs, also try to add some race pace on those longer runs so you get like a feeling of how it is going to be in the end.”