I am very happy to announce that I have just signed on a partnership with BodyFirst Massage in Adelaide, Jackie is a fantastic masseur who has worked a lot with Sports people at a high level and knows what she is doing. As a Pro athlete I have had regular massage throughout my career which I believe has assisted me in injury prevention and recovery, BodyFirst is based above Joggers World in Pirie Street ADELAIDE so drop in and organize an appointment as you wont be disappointed.
A bit about BodyFirst Massage
“At BodyFirst Massage we pride ourselves in providing the highest quality of Sports Remedial Massage. Operating since 2007, we have a plethora of experience working with athletes at all levels. Experience includes work with Adelaide United FC, 2008 Milram Pro Tour Down Under team, Joggers World Fun Runs and The Adelaide Marathons.”
A fitness enthusiast, Jackie prides herself on ensuring your muscles maintain peek physical capacity and flexibility. Her experience working with elite athletes and sporting teams allows her to bring her expertise to you. If you need to increase your exercise load, maintain your workload, or simply maintain a tension free body, then Jackie’s hands on skills will ensure your muscles are in optimal condition and ready for action.
123 Pirie Street
Adelaide SA 5000
Wanaka, New Zealand, The perfect race destination;
Great place and fantastic location for a race, this what all I heard from people leading up to the race and was part of my decision to race Challenge Wanaka and suffice to say I was not disappointed when I flew into Queenstown and took in the awesome postcard views of rugged mountains.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I heard it was cold here in Wanaka and coming from 46 degree temperatures in Adelaide I knew I would be fighting an uphill battle to get acclimatized to these conditions. With 15-16C water temp leading into race day I tried my hardest to endure the ice cream headaches and numb feet and it actually was not too bad after a few hundred meters of swimming which gave me confidence for race day.
Wanaka is a Saturday race and the forecast was for a warm 21 degree day! No heatwave but I assumed the conditions wouldnt be that arctic. At transition at 5am though I really struggled to even organise my gear due to my fingers being numb, hence I decided to do a warm up run for 30min to get warm and get some feeling back in my extremities, I never usually do a warm up before an ironman but this was the only way I could possible get warm. You know its cold when a local person from Wanaka comes up and says “its pretty chilly bru”. I was actually feeling pretty good leading into this race with all the Ironman prep for WA and the extra I did over xmas I was feeling really fresh and rested but at the back of my mind I was freaking out when the water temp was announced at 14! ( off the record it was actually 13.8)
After running to the nearest aid station before the swim and grabbing a banana I headed down to swim start with a couple of stumps as feet. I didn’t grab the banana as nutrition but moreso for my own dignity due to the George Costanza shrinkage factor! All this aside I actually was really worried about hyperventilating in the swim with the cold water as its happened before to me and it is an uncomfortable thing to go through when you panic due to lack of ability to breathe, but I actually managed to get through the swim without any major issues and came out with the main chase pack in about 52 minutes, 5 minutes behind defending champ Mcniece.
ha ha ha
Onto the bike was where I really suffered as the air temp hit 0 and -1 around the far side of the lake and mountain range, and being wet and wearing a tri suit I was looking down the barrel of hypothermia which claimed a lot of pro athletes in the first 20km namely the Australians and internationals. I have never felt cold like it I my life and couldn’t eat or drink for the first hour on the bike primarily due to the fact that I could not get my drink bottle out of the cage or anything out of my pockets due to my hands being frozen and completely numb. I was shivering badly and really cold but due to the fact I was feeling good and riding strong I pushed through hoping that I would warm up. I was riding well and was working strong with adventure racing legend and Wanaka winner Richard Usher holding Mcniece to 6-7minutes for most of the day. I knew all along though that I had used an enormous amount of energy in the first few hours of the bike shivering and trying to keep warm, my training as an emergency personell worker taught me that when your body gets really cold it utilizes fuel as a source to keep the body warm, and even though I started to warm up at around 2 hours into the bike leg I knew the effort would catch up with me later, and it did at around the 150km mark when I hit zero energy! I had eaten all my nutrtion to try and make up for the first few hours but I couldn’t replace the calories and when the temp dropped again I had to pull out at 165km mark. The race claimed a lot of athletes and only 7 men finished and most of them where NZ athletes!
I was not too disappointed with the result as I swam well and biked well, it was just the external factors that got me in the end. A huge effort by Mcniece to go off the front and hold off everyone all day, he deserves a lot of credit ad he is well on his way to make this race his own. As for me I will be taking a few weeks break as I raced Ironman WA last month, so in order to get the best out of myself and race well in March – June I need to rest the body and mind.
The race next year is being moved to late February to counter the weather and is supposedly warmer at that time of the year. This race is a magical destination venue and the scenery is stunning and the people of Wanaka embrace the town. I recommend this race to anyone who wants to combine a holiday and an race together as there is heaps to do not just in Wanaka but close by in Queenstown as well, I hope to come back next year and bring the family and stay an extra week exploring this beautiful area.
Sorry I have been a bit slack on the blog front lately as things have been crazy hectic on the homefront as well as starting up my new coaching business! I hope to be on top of things more in 2014 to keep everyone updated on my racing and sponsorships.
Coles Bay 2013
2013 started ok with wins in Albany and Coles Bay and a few other solid local results leading into Cairns Ironman where I went in underprepared and finished solid 6th. After Cairns I decided to take a punt on Metaman where there was great prize money and support offered to pro athletes (over $150k). Unfortunately I got really sick through the Adelaide winter and picked up just about every bug going around, and for those of you that have kids you will understand what I mean as my daughter started to approach 1 years old and the ensuing interaction with other children lead to a lot of colds in the Whitehouse.
I also made a few mistakes over winter one of which was doing a 10 hour training day straight after a big concussion (this could be a good excuse for taking wrong turns in races) and also staying in an altitude tent while suffering from a cold/flu. All these contributed to a long day of mental and physical suffering at Metaman in 40 degree heat where I still finished 4th! This race was very challenging but in the same sense beautiful and scenic. The run lap is torturous 6 lap course on a jungle track in oppressive heat. In saying this though I hope to return next year with the goal of winning and taking care of some unfinished business.
After Metaman there were a few false starts as I was still recovering from Metaman and illness, but managed to find my feet with a strong confidence building result at Murrayman LD in November with a solid 2nd. I had won this race 4 times and never been beaten but Dave Mainwaring had a great day and I was only a few minutes down after leading off the bike. I then moved on to Shepparton where I had a solid 4th place and a great run, this giving me good confidence leading into Busselton Ironman where after a disaster in the water I drove the bike hard to ride a 4:27 (2nd fastest) and place myself in 2nd place for the first few laps of the run before fading into 5th at the end in 8:25. They say you cant win an ironman in the swim but having a bad one at this level can really affect your race which it did that day as the hard ride took a lot out of my legs in the later stages of the marathon.
After Busso I kept plugging away with a relatively light week leading into a big block over xmas as I was racing Albany Half and Challenge Wanaka. We have a holiday house about 180km north of Adelaide where we spent xmas, so time trialling up there and back with a strong run/swim block has got me right on track for Wanaka next week, but after xmas I went to Albany to try and win the race legitimately this time (I won last yr but was DQd for littering) unfortunately this year I missed the bike turn off at 85km and kept riding another few kms down the road as the sign blew down for a left turn! This was disappointing on a few fronts as I was in 2nd and was confident of a really fast run, but I am sure this is not the first nor last time I will go the wrong way in a race. I just wish it would happen when I was having a bad race not a good one!
Overall though I am still happy with 2013 even though I had a rough patch in the middle of the year, as a pro athlete you would be niaive to think that each year is going to be better than the next , but in the same sense its really important to learn from mistakes and push through the bad patches. I find you can gain strength from picking yourself up off the ground during bad patches and perform again at a high level.
For 2014 I am aiming on setting my schedule a little better with the aim of grabbing an ironman win along the way, this will mean focusing entirely on certain events during the year and getting the best out of myself in the races I am competing in.
I will release my schedule in the next week as I am finalizing it currently.
Busselton 70.3 is probably one of the best run 70.3 events in Australia and when I was invited to attend again I had no hesitation in jumping on the 3 hour flight across the Nullarbor to Perth. After having numerous podiums out west across both distances and finishing 2nd here the last few years I was confident of another podium finish. The last 6 weeks had been full on after travelling to Melbourne and then jumping on a plane to France for a few weeks holiday, but I was still confident of gaining enough fitness back from my Melbourne prep to do well here.
The pre race activities include a chat with the pro athletes which give people an opportunity to ask questions in a fun relaxed environment, plus a charity breakfast on Friday morning which was informative and interesting. The race is a Saturday race and has a great feel to it with most people staying Saturday and can head home Sunday in ready for work Monday.
The field for this race was exceptional with Brad Kahlfeldt entering late which only added to names like Tim Reed, James Hodge, Sam Appleton, Courtney Ogden etc, Each year the field in Busso just gets better and better, add to the fact that the numbers for the race exceeded 3000 people this has to be one of the Countries premier 70.3 races.
Race morning kicked in and we were greeted to a calm Busselton morning with a clear view to the iconic Busselton Jetty and more importantly calm waters, which was a relief after last years Sydney Hobart conditions. The swim for me was by no means exceptional but I was still in sight of the lead group about 1:30 down. Tim Reed who came out just ahead managed to ride across to the main group with a very strong ride and I was caught about a minute or so down with a group of about 8 athletes and I was in a hurry to get across to the main group containing Kahlfeldt etc as I knew that it would be race suicide to let these guys have a gap going on to the run. I made a break after the first turn around on the bike to limit my loss as I was getting no help apart from Ogden in this group, this attack got me a gap of about 45 sec onds on the 2nd group and I had about a minute to the front guys leaving me in no mans land for about 70km, only to be caught at 89km by the second group. This was especially frustrating from a racing perspective as the guys in the second group were happy to sit in and conserve for the run, which essentially meant that they were all happy to race for 5th or 6th place at best when you consider the guys up the road can run sub 1:15s! We lost a good opportunity to bridge the gap in the first 20km which was annoying to say the least.
On to the run I was a shell of a man as I attempted to hold a reasonable pace while getting hooped by most of the 2nd group that caught me toward the end of the bike. I managed to settle down after about 5km and run it out to the finish in 10th place. Not the ideal position for me but considering how the race panned out and my tactics not surprising.
Overall, the sport of long course is in a very interesting place at the moment with a host of ITU guys coming through and I think we saw that on the weekend with a 1:10 half marathon run by Kahlfeldt and a I think that in the next few years this will be the norm to podium in these races which will be great to see. It just means all of us have to really step up and be ready for the next level of pace that will be injected into this sport.
A big thanks must go to the Tri WA staff, including Ash Davis who does a great job in not only looking after the pro athletes to a standard that should be done at most races, but getting us involved in the whole festival such as the Kids Triathlon, Chat with the Pros evening, Charity Breakfasts and School Visits.
Next stop for me is the Cairns adventure festival where I will be competing in the Coral Coast Triathlon and the 70.3 events so hope to see most of you up there at that great event.
Let me start this topic by pointing out that these comments are purely my own, that may or may not be shared by members of Team Latitude, and is in no way meant to be derogatory or negative to any stakeholders or supporters of this great sport! I should also point out, I am not doing any extra research here, just going off memory, so cut me some slack!
Ok, now that’s out of the way here goes!
Let me take you back many years, yes I am “old School”, the year was circa 1984, the runners in the Westfield Ultra-Marathon (remember Cliffy Young) were making their way into Melbourne after a lazy 900km on the road! A Scotsman (whose name slips my mind) was in third place with only 7kms to go, I’m pretty sure Yannis Kouros had already crossed the line in first (as he always did), anyway back to the Scotsman. He was done, spent, cactus! Only 7km of a 900 km run to go and nothing! Collapsed coincidently out the front of the Kew cemetery. His support crew dragged him into his van and in came a sport physcologist. 2 hours later he emerged; stood still for a few minutes then slowly put one foot on the ground in front of the other, another minute passed and the next foot followed.
It took the best part of another hour before he was moving again, not running, but a stagger, albeit a solid stagger. I was following this on the television, then made my way up to Doncaster road as he was nearing the finish line. Suffice to say, he DID finish, ended up coming 5th. How would you be, getting overtaken with only kilometres to go in a 900 km race. He was taken straight from the finish line to hospital, and suffered amnesia; didn’t remember a thing of the past week! Tough! or stupid? I say tough and inspiring, many say the opposite.
2 years later, if I recall, a similar fate hit a South Australian by the name od David Standeven, he was leading Yannis Kouros by a small margin to be fair, Yannis started 24 hours behind the field, he is my vote for greatest athlete of all time in any sport, in the dying kilometres he was passed by Yannis, and another guy and came third, only to be also taken by ambulance and also receiving a dose of amnesia.
The moral of that, these guys, to name only a few in this legendary event were tough!
Lets go to a sport close to all our hearts, again back to the 80′s, Julie Moss! Ill say no more on that, it doesn’t need more said. But I believe her “toughness: inspired generations of not only triathletes but athletes in general!
A bit closer to the modern time, 1997 an Aussie Legend in my book, (not to mention making a comeback to Ironman racing in Melbourne IM finishing a very credible 5th) Chris Legh. You may recall Chris Leaving half his stomach behind in Kona! TOUGH! Hell yea! A bit of trivia, that year Thomas Hellreigal won in a time of 8.33, a time that would have made him 13th in 2011, and 9th in 2012, hold that thought!
Also in 1997, remember the “Ironman Crawl”, no that isn’t a dance! Sian Welch and Wendy Ingraham crawling to the finish! Tough? No shit!!!
So lets get back to the question, Are Pro Athletes too Soft these days?
It seems that just about every big race a solid percentage of pros fail to make the finish line, for many reasons. This has become exceedingly topical after a tough day at Ironman Melbourne a few weeks ago, when many big names and strong athletes failed to even make the run course. Why is this?
Personally, I was never a great athlete at all, but I prided myself on being tough, “old school” I’ve never had a DNF in any activity I have partaken, and never would or will, BUT lets be honest there is an enormous gap between what the pros do, and what I could ever have done, so for me, it was “only about the T’shirt” as it is for the majority of people on a starting line of any distance race in any given endurance event. So, yes, I was one of the critics that said “soft” not in a negative way, but more of a gentle tease. I personally know quite a few of the guys that pulled out at IM Melbourne, and they are not soft! What they are is over worked, over tuned, elite machines trying to stay at pace. Just like a Formula 1 car; if they are not at the pace and things are going wrong they have to be smart and withdraw; to fight another day. The cost becomes too great to continue.
There is no money in this sport, every penny counts and the depth of people in long course battling for a measly buck is immense, and getting tougher as the ITU guys make a move over to the “glamour” of long course.
So Soft? Hell no! but highly tuned machines doing their job, trying to eek out a quid off a small prize pool. And if you have the view “sponsors pay em”, you clearly have no idea of professional triathlon. They will all make less that you! and one thing is for sure, they work a damn site harder than you!
So you cant call modern day Professional Triathletes soft, its just not appropriate. lets go back to the IM times now compared to only a decade ago, they are substantially faster, last year in Melbourne 2 people (nearly, as cam Brown only missed by seconds) broke the elusive 8hr barrier. So please people, have some respect, and Race Directors and Race Organisers, its not just about money, this is triathlon, a lifestyle and a passion for many, so please pass a little over to the guys that do it for a living and fill your pockets with their relentless promoting and inspiring performance on and off the worlds race courses.
I must sum up by saying this though, those old athletes, well they just had a different meaning for tough!!
I was asked to race in Tasmania as part of Team latitude which is run by my good mate Guy Besley last month and I had no hesitation in saying yes as I have never been to Tassie before. Team Latitide is a concept whereby our main focus is to support local grassroots triathlon and give back to the sport where we all came from. We raced the Port Douglas Long Course in September as part of the team which involved Mitch Anderson, Tim Berkel, Dan Robins, Adam Gordon and a few others, I managed to win that race in a sprint finish with Tim Berkel so I was hopeful of doing the same in Tassie.
My last race before Coles Bay was a success in some ways by winning the Albany Long Course race early January but unfortunately being disqualified after crossing the line first, taking that in to account I was still looking at going 2 from 2 to start the year off. Upon arriving in Hobart I was totally prepared for a wild, windy and cold couple of days on the coast, but I was pleasantly surprised by warm and somewhat tropical weather (yes I did say tropical and Tasmania in the same sentence).
The Race setting in Coles Bay is probably as close to perfect as one could possibly imagine, with picturesque surroundings, crystal blue waters and white sands lining the coast around the region which is located about an hour and half drive from Hobart. The roads are hilly and by no means easy in terms of riding, and after driving these roads I held no doubt that this race would be a tough one. Last years winner and local hero James Hodge was not racing after competing in Geelong the week before, but my work would be cut out with fellow Team Latitude member and Sydney local Michael Murphy, Adam Gordon, Dan Robins and some Tassie locals.
A few of the Team Latitude Boys
The race started on the beach in Coles Bay with a 2 lap journey in the crystal waters of the bay where I exited the water in 3rd behind Murphy and a local athlete. After having a week in Thailand on a holiday the week before this event and not having touched my bike I wasn’t at all hopeful of a strong bike leg, so my main objective was to stay in touch and unleash a solid run. I managed to ride with a strong Tassie local Hayden Armstrong and caught Murphy at the 20km mark. I was utilising this race as a form finder with the main goal of Ironman Melbourne next month so this type of training and hard riding was crucial.
I hit T2 with Murphy and Armstrong after a solid bike ride and hit the run with the idea of maintaining a consistent pace throughout the 21km run, the run leg at Coles Bay was 16km of sand running which certainly added to the toughness of this event, but in saying that I really enjoyed the challenge as I gradually pulled away from Murphy half way through the first lap.
Me and the boys
I held the lead for the whole 21km and crossed the line about 3 minutes ahead of Murph making it a Team Latitude one, two!
This race is certainly one that I will come back and race again, as the scenery and beauty of the place is unsurpassed, the only unfortunate thing was that I could only take it in during a 4 hr half ironman!
A big thanks again to the organisation who facilitated our team to come down and also guy Besley who works tirelessly in organising an unorganised bunch of athletes! This was certainly a weekend I will not forget in a hurry.
I signed up to Race the TREK Albany Half Race after meeting the race organisers in Mandurah at the 70.3 event last year, and I love supporting new inaugural races and even more love coming over to WA as I have had some success there of late especially after coming close to winning Ironman WA, so the decision was easy to forego my xmas break and head west in early Jan.
After Ironman WA I usually have a break until the new year, but looking at my schedule this year I really did not have much racing on until Ironman Melbourne this which made me push through with my training until Albany and see what happens and more importantly to see if the body had recovered from a hard Ironman. A week before Albany I raced a triple sprint aquathon at Glenelg as part of the Bay sports Festival, I had not raced this event for about 5 years as it really does not suit me with the 1.7km run/2x250m swim/1.7/2x250m/1.7km format just so fast and involving a lot of wading and surf skills, but the race director is a good supporter of mine and I decided to support him by racing the event even though I was not confident at all of even finishing in the top ten with so many young fast guys there.
I shocked myself and managed to finish 3rd in the event just behind a couple of young Nutri Grain surf ironman guys, who really taught me a lesson in how to wade in and out of the water. The only thing I did win however was best vomit across the line! (and I didn’t get DQd for that either!) as the speed and format really took it out of me and I was over the moon to do well in a sprint event 3 weeks after an ironman so the signs were good for Albany the next week. I left on Thursday morning early and had a massive delay at the airport causing me to miss all my connections to Albany and having to stay in Perth for the night, I was not aware at the time but should have known this was a sign of things to come for my adventure west!
After checking into my fantastic accom at The Pelicans Resort I met up with Matt Burton, Leon Griffen and Mikey Gee for a cruise around the bike course and a few coffees. After that I was ready to hit the ground running and try and take a victory in this picturesque event. Being race number 1 added a bit of pressure obviously and my main concerns were Griffo and Guy Crawford, Guy is a great athlete and when he is on a good day he can really do some damage on the swim and bike, he did this in 70.3 Busselton a few years ago so I was well aware of his abilities, and Griffo needs no intro as his results across the world speak for themselves making him one of the toughest athletes I race against.
Race start was early as usual in WA with the sun rising at 4.30 and with a beach start I watched helplessly as Guy’s long legs bounded out toward the Great Southern Ocean like a Giraffe bounding away from a game hunter! he quickly gapped my small group which contained Griffo and Simon Billuea and we came out the crystal clear ocean with about 1:30min deficit.
This race is tough that is for sure with a steep climb straight out of T1 for a few kms then a steep downhill which was fantastic as it provided great views of the Gulf and Ocean, plus it took away the pain of the earlier Berg! I felt good on the bike and tried to peg back Guy with Griffo. Billeua decided to ride his own race and wait for the run much to man from Bendigo’s disgust and this was played out on the podium later on in the day! The ride is an out and back 90km with some solid undulations and some false flats so if you are a strong rider this race is for you!
At about the 60km mark I took on a small energy drink which accidentally slipped out of my mouth and in doing so I attempted to catch it, which then ended up on the road as I hit a slight bump while drinking it! Unfortunately there was an official there who gave me a red card, I asked if that was it and was I DQd? And he stated that we will talk about it later. To straighten out this whole thing, I am not disputing the call at all, it was an accident and no matter which way you look at it rubbish landed on the road from me so there was nothing I could do about it but to accept the call. There was no point argueing or wasting energy as I had clearly dropped the bottle outside an aid station, my point in this matter is why I was not DQd there and then?
I hit T2 and heard that I was about 4 minutes down on Guy who was obviously having a cracking day in his home state of WA. I set off in chase knowing that my running has been going well lately I thought I might have a chance especially with half of the run being on the sand plus I took off hard as I was worried about Griffo. I eventually caught Guy at about 12km and really worked hard to make the catch. Once I had about a minute lead I decided to find a rhythm and get to the finish to take the win.
Crossing the line first was great as there was a huge crowd and a lot of local support for me which is why I love heading West to race, plus heaps of media as well which was great for the race promotion. I ended up doing about 4 media interviews and photos before I was told I was DQd for littering on the bike. This annoyed me more than anything as I felt sorry for the race organisers who made an effort to attract the media down there in the first place and they had wasted their time talking to me who was now DQd. I just wish the penalty would have suited the crime as no advantage was gained from this at all for the me. In retrospect I received a 5min penalty for accidentally cutting the course in Shepparton a few years ago when the lead car took me through the wrong roundabout, and as most people have said in response to this you would get less for drafting!
Overall to all the people who have made their own judgement on what happened I hope you read this and respect the fact that I admit to dropping a bottle on the course and have no issue with this, I am sure everyone has had this happen in a long course race. The issue I have is the harshness of the penalty especially when we are racing for a livelihood and to support a young family. The 2nd point is that being made to run a hard 21km when I should have been DQd at the time was just ludicrous as it would have given Guy the chance to cross the line first and limit the negative publicity for the race itself.
I really enjoyed my time in Albany and a huge thanks to the organisers for making my stay memorable. I am sure this race will double in size in a few years as its not only a great unique race but a nice holiday destination for familes in the new year. I hope this clears everything up and thanks everyone for their support that weekend, it was a great way to start the year with a win albeit not official and good to know the form is still there after a long year. Also a big congrats to Guy Crawford and Kate Bevilaqua for winning in their home state, and with the prize money they can now get their cat out of quarantine and give it a full manicure and pedicure package!
I found myself heading back to West Australia again for another Long Distance Triathlon after having a heap of good results out west, this time though I was shooting for an Ironman win in one of my favourite races of the year Ironman Busselton. I finished 2nd here in 2010 and that was a big breakthrough for me so I was hoping to go one step higher on the podium this time and claim my first Ironman win. The field was quite solid with Timo Bracht who won last year and has been a top ten Hawaii finisher several years running, Jimmy Johnson, Horst Riechel, Jason Shortis, Mitch Anderso, Josh Rix and a host of other Aussie Pro athletes.
I bought the family over to Perth this time and arrived the Thursday before the race as I had some media commitments and a few sponsorship obligations, overall I was fit, healthy and ready to race a hard ironman on Sunday. I knew that if I could race to the level I did in 2010 I would be in with a great shot and I was sure the win would be around 8:15 with the right conditions. The weather had different ideas though with a forecast of hot and windy conditions for race day. This didn’t worry me too much as I knew I had the strength on the bike to get me through a windy 180km, and with a renewed focus on my running I was hoping to be at the pointy end of the field toward the end of the race.
The Saturday before the race I went for an easy spin on my bike to loosen the legs up, but as I rolled out of my accommodation I found that I had some mechanical issues with my gearing, I stopped in at The Fat Duck bike shop who did all they could to rectify my issues, which left me thinking that I hope it holds out for the race! Suffice to say race morning ticked along and the first thing I checked was my gearing which was non existent. I am guessing my bike system was damaged during the transit from Adelaide, and with no replacement hi tech gear I had to make do, luckily I had Craig Cotter from Bike Society in Adelaide here who built my bike originally and along with Justin from Fat Duck they quickly diagnosed my problem and attempted to fix it which I appreciate as they were both racing an ironman as well as dealing with my complicated issues 45 minutes before the start.
Not an ideal way to start an Ironman that you were hoping to win! Due to the issue that I had, the option was to ride my bike with one gear which would have been a suicide mission in the wind or get my gear changed over to a replacement bike and hope that it fits. I chose the latter option after a stressfull 10 minutes of pondering, and the guys from Fat Duck did an awesome job constructing a bike before the start of the race. I was unable to test ride this machine or even know what it looked like as I had to get down to swim start 30 minutes prior to the start time.
The swim on race day is always a nervous time due to the amount of first timers and families around wishing everyone good luck, add to that the swim was quite choppy, plus that Busselton Jetty looks such a long way when you stand on the beach, oh and add to that you dont know what bike you are riding or even if it fits, or even whether or not a bike will be at the rack!
The swim went well for me and I came out with the main players of Bracht, Johnson, Rix and we were 2 minutes down on Riechell. As I ran out of the swim into T1 I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had a bike in my rack, and also that it was a Specialized…granted though it wasn’t my S Works Shiv but it would have to do. The first 20km of the bike ride were not pretty for me as I had to adjust to the bike and with Jimmy and Bracht laying down the hurt I certainly had the pain face painted on!
The whole bike ride I did my best to stay in contact but really struggled at the top end, I certainly had no response when Rix and Anderson made thier move at the end of the second lap, which was frustrating but I knew that if I stayed in contact with my main threat Johnson I would be ok, and with Bracht puncturing on the first lap I knew I had a chance if I could get through the bike without too much damage.
T2 was a welcome sight that is for sure, I was about 4 minutes down on Anderson with Billeu and Riechell a minute up the road and after a good transition I set out feeling pretty strong despite the hot conditions. I managed to catch Billeu quite early and could see Mitch just up ahead who was fighting the leg hurt after a hard 180km. I caught Mitch at 6km then Riechell just after placing me in the lead of the race at the end of lap one. I was still feeling good but worried about Johnson who was just holding strong about 1.30min behind me and Riechell who stayed about 40 seconds behind. I managed to hold the lead right up until about 30km when things started to deteriorate and Johnson overtook me, I had no response as he went passed quite hard and i was really suffering. Riechell then passed me with about 6km to go which really hurt, my main objective after this was to try and hold on for a podium which I managed to get finishing in 8:38, holding off a fast finishing Jason Shortis.
The crowd support is the main factor I keep coming back to WA and it got me through every km on the run even though I was hurting big time late in the run. I learned a lot competing at this Ironman as I had to overcome a major problem which could have easily cost me the race about 30 minutes before the start. I found that being positive even in a situation like what I experienced was a great tool, and something I have acquired after a long time in this sport travelling around the world living out of suitcases, not knowing where I would be living or even when the next paycheck would come from. It is true this that this sport is hard at the professional level and we dont get paid not much for the work we put in, but what this sport can do is build character in tough situations which is something you cant get from most jobs and money cant buy that.
Before I sign out for the year, a huge thanks to all my supporters and sponsors who were invaluable all year and I have been happy to represent you at the pointy end of Long Course Triathlon.
Shimano Global Team
Norwood Swim School
Back In Motion Campbelltown
Also thanks to the Legend Delly Carr for these shots
Busy Times! The last month has been a roller coaster for me with good races and lots of training mixed in with a bit sickness, but I am happy to say that I am over that now and I am fully focused on Ironman Western Australia in a few weeks.
After Mandurah 70.3 where I finished 4th in a stacked field things got really bad with the cold that I carried into Mandurah blowing up and really knocking me for 6 leading into Port Macquarie 70.3 the preceeding weekend. With a hard race in WA and all the travel associated with it and being sick caused me to struggle with my recovery all week, but in saying that I was hopeful of a miracle at Port Macquarie and after a solid swim I thought I might just have pulled it off, coming out of the water at the front of the main pack with Giffen, Berkel etc. Once on the bike my heart rate was through the roof and I really struggled to get any power down at all as I watched everyone ride away from me easily. It was at this point I knew the body did not have another 70.3 in it, and pushing it would have been detrimental to my health so I called it a day after the first lap of the bike to risk further issues.
After returning to Adelaide after Port Mac, I found myself really struggling for motivation mentally, especially as I was signed up to race Murrayman Long Course the following weekend. I made the decision to shut things down all week and get healthy, race Murrayman and then make some decisions after that race. I drove up to Barmera with my friend Andrew Dillon who has been my training partner for the last year or so and in my opinion was a certainty to podium in that race, unfortunately Andrew contracted the cold that I had and things didnt go as planned. The Murrayman race is a well organised 2/80/20km distance incorporating the SA Long Distance Titles. It has been running for 4 years and I have won 3 of them as I didnt race it last year. With Motivation levels at an all time low I still managed to get the body around the course and win by 14 minutes. It was just after the race that I decided to enter Ironman WA, moreso to increase my motivation to finish the year off well. Suffice to say that was probably the best decision I made as my focus really picked up and so did my training load, so as I am writing this 3 weeks out from WA I am feeling like I am ready to get that Ironman win on the board after numerous second places.
My racing schedule also included Shepparton 70.3 which was last weekend, I love racing Shep as the organising committee do a great job of looking after the pro athletes and making us feel welcome. This started off with a welcome VIP evening Friday night for the Pro athletes and various VIPs with great food and drinks provided. The main threats for this race were Terrenzo Bozzone, Tim Reed, Leon Griffen, Joey Lampe. Monty Frankish, Ben Allen and a few others so it was always going to be a fast race. I went into the race with a huge few weeks of ironman prep behind me so I was not sure how the body would hod up especially coming off a few 100km plus running weeks. In saying that though I was healthy and ready for a hard hit out. After a solid swim where most of it was swimming blind into the sun in a chocolate milkshake I came out with Reed, Griffen etc about a minute and half down on Lampe and Bozzone. Once on the bike I really struggled to get the power down and had to watch as Reed and Griffen rode away from me, I managed to compose myself and got through the 90km with Monty Frankish who was riding well. I came in off the bike about 6 minutes down on the leader Lampe and Bozzone and about 3 minutes down on Reed, Griff and Allen, so I had some work to do in order to get a paycheck! I manage to set a decent pace on the run and surprisingly felt light and fast running into 4th place with a 1:15 run and a total time of 3:56 with Bozzone, Lampe, Griffen in front of me. A big shout out to the “Bondi Vet” Joey Lampe who took same names and grabbed his first of many 70.3 podiums!
After Shep I had a few days of R and R in Melbourne courtesy of Ricky Jeffs from Urban Hotel Group, where I caught up with my sister, friends and did some shopping. I managed to get some decent training in Melbourne while I was there too, for now though its straight back to hard work in Adelaidewith another few weeks of solid training toward Ironman WA, I finished 2nd there in 2010 with teh fastest run of the day in a total time of 8:18 so I know I can get the business done on the day as long as I am healthy and race ready which I believe I can be, so I am insulating my house with cotton wool until then!
The last few months have been made easier with the great support of my sponsors enabling me to ride, wear and more importantly eat the best products available so a huge thanks to Specialized Australia, Shimano Global Team, Saucony, Scody, Ryders Eyewear, Wattbike, XTerra Wetsuits, Swimmers Sports Shop Norwood, Huon Salmon, ATS Altitude, Back In Motion Campbelltown and SIS.
Ironman Mandurah was placed on the Australian calender this year as a new 70.3 event and was also awarded Australian Pro Championships status and in doing so attracted a quality field. On a personal note WA has been really good to me in the past few years with a string of second places starting with ironman 2010 and 70.3 events 2011 and 2012.
I arrived in Perth at 7am Friday which meant that it was an early Adelaide morning for me (4am) and promised to be an extra long day in Perth due to the time difference. I was picked up at the airport by a small Mexican man (Tim Reed) and we made the hour drive to Mandurah where I was required to attend the press conference.
Race day Sunday proved to be a cracker especially with a big field racing with some athletes coming straight off a US season and race fit, Tim Reed, Clayton Fettel, Tim Berkel, James Bowstead, Ruidi Wild, Paul Ambrose, Brett Carter, Matt Bailey etc plus a heap of new short course athletes stepping up to compete on this new course. With 50k total prize money the race was sure to be fast from the start. Coming into the race I was feeling great but early on in the week I picked up a slight head cold which was annoying as I knew I really needed to be 100% with a field like this. The body was feeling good though and I was still confident of a solid result.
The swim pace was quite solid and I found myself really struggling to hold on to the main front pack, this was unusual for me as I normally am quite solid in the swim leg in races and can maintain a comfortable heart rate. It was here where I knew I would have to dig deep today as obviously the body was not quite 100% recovered from the slight illness. I pushed on and managed to come out with the main set of swimmers with Fettell a minute or so up the road.
Once on the bike I started to feel the pace and couldn’t settle the HR down, even being in a large group of about 15 athletes I was still struggling to feel comfortable. There was a lot of talk about drafting in this group and I am not defending any athletes, but it really was a product of a fast swim and a large pack emerging out together. The main issue was a lot of short course athletes racing who have no idea of the 12m rule. I had to turn around a few times to tell people to drop back as it just looked stupid, but in saying that the ball is in the court of the Marshalls and they saw no reason to hand out any cards. I knew that at about 40km the short course guys would start to drop off as Ambrose etc lifted the pace back into town. This caused carnage and resulted in many guys dropping off and a select group left on the bike. At about 55km I noticed that Berkel and Bowstead had left the group and managed to get up the road. I didn’t panic too much thinking that they would come back but Jimmy Bowstead was driving the pace hard and they managed to bridge up to Fettell and gain a minute leading into T2.
I came into T2 with Reed, Ambrose and Wild with a fast 2:03 bike split in the legs, and just as I thought the speed was on straight out of transition with Reed setting off in pursuit of Berkel, Fettell and Bowstead. I managed to hang with reedy for a few km but my legs were just not playing the game so I decided to pull the reigns in and get the HR down to a level where I could maintain for 20km. I started to feel a lot better at 10km and picked up Fettell and and managed to pass Bowstead at 18km placing me in 4th place at the finish in 3:45, behind Berkel, Reed and Wild.
I was overall happy with the placing especially being at an Australian Pro Championships but not entirely happy with the way I raced and felt, so now for me its straight into damage control and get myself back up to race Port Mac 70.3 this weekend. I generally race quite well once I have had my first hard race out of the way, so am hopeful to try and grab a win this weekend but in saying that it will be tough as the field is just as good as last week with Berkel, Fettell, Bowstead, Griffen also racing and in good form. I cant wait to get out there and have another crack.