Road Stop boss Carsten im Brahm from Mettmann has “accidentally” qualified for the Ironman in Hawaii. In this interview, the ambitious hobby triathlete reveals how it came to this, how he combines sport, gastronomy and family – and what the best reward after the finish is for him.
Carsten im Brahm: Gastronomer, Father of a Family, Ironman
hogaFUTURE: Carsten im Brahm, the distance of an Ironman triathlon consists of 3.86 km swimming, 180.2 km cycling and 42.195 km running. Since when do you start on this course and how often have you already mastered this strain?
Carsten im Brahm: My very first triathlon, that was still over the short distance at that time, I completed at the tender age of 19 years. The long distance, on the other hand, is the classic Ironman course and is indeed an enormous challenge, not only for the body, but above all for the mind. Since 1997, when, at the age of 24, I switched from the shorter middle distance to the long distance, I have completed an Ironman eleven times, most recently in July 2019 in Hamburg.
Hamburg is a good keyword. In July you “accidentally” qualified for the Ironman 2019 on Hawaii in your age group (men between 45 and 49 years). How did this happen?
In contrast to 2018, where I had meticulously focused on qualifying for my first Ironman in Hawaii, this was not really planned this year. Actually, I just wanted to have a relaxed race in Hamburg. But then, during the final marathon, I realized that even more was possible. So I just put the pedal to the metal and finished 9th in my age group – and suddenly I had bought my ticket for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.
Nutrition, the 4th triathlon discipline
Physical fitness is the most important condition to pass an Ironman. How many hours do you train during the preparation period?
In the hot preparation phase, 2-3 months before the Ironman, I train between 18 and 20 hours a week. That’s about 7-11 km swimming, 150-300 km cycling and 30-75 km running.
What role does nutrition play in this?
Clearly: a leading role. It is, so to speak, the 4th discipline in triathlon. No one who neglects nutrition can achieve top performances in the three “real” disciplines. On a training day during the hot preparation phase, you have to eat between 3,500 and 4,500 calories. You need exact planning. I myself eat few carbohydrates, gluten-free and try to do without industrial food. The “Thrive” book series by Brendan Brazier helped me here – even though I am neither a vegan nor a vegetarian myself.
Ironman adventure: “Only works with a strong partner who has your back.”
Is there any time for a burger in one of your restaurants or do you only eat raw food?
Yes, yes, a glass of wine or a burger will do. But just in moderation. But my real vice is licorice, so I always have to be very careful. But I don’t want to categorically restrict or scourge myself.
You are not only a triathlete, but also the manager of a well-functioning restaurant chain and a father of a family. How do you reconcile all this?
If you practice the triathlon adventure – even as an ambitious amateur – you can only do so with a tolerant partner who shares your enthusiasm for the sport and keeps your back free. I have the great good fortune that this is the case with me. Without my wife and my understanding daughters all this would not be possible.
Inner satisfaction as the best reward
What exactly does your Ironman enthusiasm have to do with Gastrofix?
We’ve been using the iPad POS system in the Road Stop stores for quite some time and have been a customer for over 6 years now. By connecting new interface partners to Gastrofix, for example in the areas of accounting, hotel PMS and merchandise management, we are increasingly turning the cash register into a digital control center. And: Because Gastrofix is cloud-based, I can manage the four Road Stop stores from anywhere. This makes everyday work much easier for gastromers and is ideal in conjunction with my time-consuming hobby of triathlon. We are in a continuous, intensive exchange with the Gastrofix managers. When I asked there about sponsoring my unplanned Ironman participation, they were immediately on fire.
Months of organization, countless training kilometers and finally the Ironman itself: What’s the best reward after crossing the finish line?
The best thing about the whole intensive project is the feeling of deep inner contentment, the realization that you have actually achieved it and reached your goal, realized your life’s dream. It starts a few kilometres before the finish line when the spectators cheer you on during the final marathon. That’s just an incomparable elation. You also have to push away one or two tears of joy.
Can this feeling be preserved and taken away?
Yeah, for a while that’ll do. But much more important is to internalize the attitude that led to this experience of success. This also applies to professional life, especially in the catering business. You have to finish things, then you are on the right track. However, this is not so easy, the inner pig often has something against it. If you knew how often it knocks on my door during a competition …
Carsten im Brahms Big Goal: Daylight Finisher
What are your goals for this year’s Ironman World Championship?
My main goal is to finish again as a daylight finisher. If I could undercut my time from last year – 10:55 h – I would be super happy. At the moment I’m pretty happy with my performance, so that should be realistic.