Progress is for everyone. Even Ironman winners. Take South African professional triathlete Kyle Buckingham for example: He finished fourth in November 2021s Ironman African Championships. And though he’s actually won this very same race before and eventually went onto win it again this year, – as a fourth place finisher – he he called the result his best performance yet. And that is everything.
While we all measure progress in different ways at different levels, we love that Kyle found value in a 4th place finish over a victory.

While we all measure progress in different ways at different levels, we love that Kyle found value in a 4th place finish over a victory.

Here’s why:

Like anything in life, success on the day usually depends on months of preparation. Which, even after winning an Ironman or two, means Kyle is still always on the lookout for innovation in technology that can help him succeed even more. When he got the opportunity to use Supersapiens sensors months before his event, he jumped at the chance.

The first thing he noticed were big glucose rushes after meals. He experimented with different food sources before training, adding more protein to his diet. In addition to his usual oats, he found adding two boiled eggs curbed the rush in the glucose levels he’d noticed.

When training started an hour after breakfast, his glucose range remained more stable.

Kyle previously thought he needed 1.5 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight per hour when racing. With visibility from the app, he learned he actually needed 1.7 grams to stay in his glucose performance zone. Kyle weighed 73 kilograms on race day, meaning his intake went from 109g/hr to 124g/hr of carbohydrate.

Small adjustments that add up to huge progress.

During race-specific training sessions, he would take a carbohydrate drink every 10 minutes and a gel or a bar every 30 minutes. He also experimented by increasing the frequency, taking a gel every 20 minutes to maintain a more stable graph level.

At the start of using the app, he continually achieved glucose scores within the 40 to 50 range. But with these experiments, he was able to improve them to 70 and above. These are the learnings that helped him develop his fueling strategy for the Ironman African Championships – his best performance yet.

Race Day

Here’s how it all went down: Kyle ate breakfast at 4:15 am – a good two hours and 15 minutes before the race started. (Of course, there is always a trade off with early race start: breakfast time!) That breakfast included oats, two eggs, and a protein shake.

He then sipped on a bottle containing carbohydrates an hour and 30 minutes before the race and took a gel 15 minutes before the gun went off.

Conditions on the day were probably the most treacherous he'd experienced: gale force winds exceeded over 40km/h and rough seas forced the organizers to shorten the swim. Despite that, Kyle exited the water ninth and was onto the bike with the lead group, in third place.

On the bike, he consumed 120 grams of carbohydrates an hour, comprising 60 grams of carbs in a bottle plus two gels and four chews. He remained with the lead group on the bike for 110 kilometers, until the pace was too fast and he made a strategic decision to save energy for the run.

After the bike leg, he left T2 in fourth place. He estimated that his intake of carbs was between 80 – 100 grams per hour on the run. Kyle quickly gained on third place, running down 4 minutes in the first 30 kilometers.

Unfortunately, in the final 10 kilometers, "the wheels came off" and he focused on maintaining his position. Despite missing out on a podium position, Kyle remains proud of the performance in a stacked field of competitors facing tough conditions. As he put it:

“I think I had one of my best Ironman overall performances I ever had. I got beaten by three better guys. One of them being former world champion, Sebastien Kienle.”

Of course, given Kyle's ongoing progress and improvement we keenly watched the 2022 Ironman Africa Championships in April, to see how Kyle performed.
He did not disappoint using all of his experience and learnings to finish in a very impressive 7:16:31, winning the race. He was only 19 seconds ahead of second place and only 1:06 ahead of third place in a hotly contest battle of three South Afiricans.

Kyle Buckingham winning an Ironman with Supersapiens
Bradley Weiss, Kyle and Matt Trautman after Ironman South Africa (Photo credit IRONMAN South Africa)

We were thrilled to see this performance and we’re more than curious what Kyle will continue to learn and what more progress there is to make with his ongoing Supersapiens-enabled experimentation.