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.
The Australian Duathlon Championships were held again in my hometown last weekend in the beautiful wine district of Tanunda , and I felt once again obliged to race and defend the title I won last year. Even though I feel as out of place in a Duathlon as Phil Wrochna and Mitch Anderson did at the Cairns Carbo night in a set of matching oversize Hawaiin shirts!
Race morning was chilly as I noticed the temperature hovering between 2-3 degrees driving out to the start. Wetsuit legal Duathlon anyone? I only decided to race this at the last minute again as a fine tuning race before my main goals of the year starting at Mandurah 70.3 in a few weeks. This year the race course was exactly the same containing the infamous Menglers Hill on each of the 2 laps (40km) on the bike, this hill is about 2km long and quite steep this adding to the difficulty of this course, especially in a Duathlon where you tackle this Hill only 2km into the bike after enduring a 10km run.
Last year I won this race by about 5 minutes and gained most of this on the bike, but this year the ITU rules were in place which meant a draft legal format, and road bikes, so with great regret I had to leave the Shiv at home but I was lucky enough to use a Specialized Venge, and with a set of Dura Ace C75 wheels the combo was still fast.
The race started quite quick and solid up on the gradual incline toward the first turn as Thomas Bruins and Raf Baugh were cranking the pace, these guys are Duathlon specialists so I even felt more out of place, especially as they are both WA sandgropers! And in a draft legal format I was anticipating a few co ordinated attacks on the bike. The pace was a bit of a shock to me as I knew I was fit but not quite race fit, on the other hand Bruins had just come off the Duathlon World Champs where he represented the Netherlands and Baugh had won this race once before so it was no surprise when I looked at the Garmin and saw a 2:58 for the second km. At this point my heart was in my mouth and being a Long Course guy I don’t get to see these types of numbers that often. Lucky for me I actually started to feel better as the first run continued and went into T1 equal footing with the two Western Australians on the somewhat long 10km run, albeit with my heart in my mouth!
After the worlds slowest transition I was on the bike and leading toward Menglers Hill were I decided to crank the pace up a notch, by doing this I managed to get rid of Baugh but Bruins hung tough up the climb, and despite my best efforts I could not shell him in this draft legal format even though at some points I felt like my Splene was about to drop out of my right nostril up Menglers!
At the end of the bike and into T2 I knew things were going to get ugly, and with a strong bike time of 1:05 for the 40km on an extremely hilly course and with road bikes, I wasn’t sure how my legs would cope with run number 2. I got off the bike with Bruins who charged out of transition in comparison to myself who more than likely resembled a Wounded prisoner attempting to escape from Alcatraz, Hence that things were not stylish on this 2nd run. I managed though to hang tough and push hard finishing about 40 seconds behind Bruins and still retaining my Australian Title due to Bruins racing for the Netherlands.
Overall I was very happy with my race as a great form finder leading into my next block of racing in Australia, my schedule is very heavy with about 6 half iron distance races in 9 weeks with the first 3 being back to back!
My schedule looks like this:
Port Mac 70.3
MurrayMan Long Distance
I have had some great features lately in the local press with a pictorial in the latest issue of Australian triathlete, I had Lucas Wroe follow me around somewhat inconspicuous around Cairns before the Ironman in June and see how I prep for an Ironman race so check it out and see if you can pick up any tips.
Also I will be putting together some great handy tips from my Physio sponsor Back in Motion Campbelltown in relation to injury prevention and management so I hope that you will find this interesting and informative as the physios there are extremely switched on and have helped me greatly the past few years.
August has been one hell of a month! That is for sure…it all started early August after jumping on a plane to Vegas for my brother in law’s bucks show, I had considered not going on this trip for obvious reasons but I decided at the last minute to venture into sincity for the 5th time in 7 years. In saying that though, this was my first bucks show experience in this town and suffice to say it didn’t dissapoint, with huge nights, bigger days, trashed hotel rooms and a lot of other stuff which stays in Vegas. All I can say is that I am happy we didn’t find any babies or tigers in our Hotel Suites!
With all that being said Las Vegas did take part of my soul and most likely a year off my life, as partying with 12 guys who are well accustomed to it nearly broke me, but I came out the other end and became a stronger more resilient athlete!
So as you know what happens in Vegas…………………I wont talk to much about this trip as most of the readers are Tri Dogs who want to hear about racing rather than shenanigans so hear you go…
I arrived home from Vegas 3 days before I was due to jet off to race Yeppoon 70.3 so I decided to cram in some quality sessions in those days and more importantly detox the body. Yeppoon has been a happy place for me as it was my first half ironman pro victory back in 2009, since then I finished a close 2nd last year also. This year I wasn’t holding out much hope of a podium due to recent events and lack of training, but due to bad planning I found myself toeing the start line alongside my good mate Tim Reed who was my pick for the win, Sam Betten, Mitch Anderson, Joey (I love Lamp) Lampe, Jon Polson, Adam Gordon and Matty Bailey.
I was really relaxed coming into this race as my expectations were about as big as my third toenail which is not that big at all! Suffuce to say I wasn’t too shocked to be left behind at the beach start, then tripped over and lost my goggles, I managed to fight my way up to the 2nd group and exited with Tim Reed, John Polson and a few others, we quickly reeled in Lampe and Bailey leaving Betten up front solo. I was actually feeling quite good on the Shiv yet I really didn’t have the confidence to lay the hammer down 100% due to the fact I had been drinking solidly for 2 weeks and minimal training so I played it conservatively up to about 45km, when I lost a bit of concentration and noticed Reed and Lampe where up the road. I whacked it up a few gears and jumped across to them shelling a few guys in the process.
At the end of the ride I had a 4 min deficit to Betten and was in T2 with Reed and Bailey, I was pretty happy with that effort and decided to drop into damage control as I knew I wouldn’t have the legs to go with the HUMAN METRAGNOME Reedy (no pun intended mate). I managed to hang tough on the run and hold onto 3rd with Reedy taking the win from Betten in dominating fashion with a 1:12 run! I now have raced Yeppoon 3 times with a 1st, 2nd and now a 3rd, so really its not a bad record. And a big shout out to the X-TRI crew for putting on another flawless race.
Directly after Yeppoon 70.3 I jetted across to Cairns to hang with the great crew from Specialized for their 2013 product launch. I felt quite priviliged to be there as I was one of the only pro athletes at the event, being there I met some of the great people that make Specialized such a cutting edge company and I also learned a great deal about aerodynamics and all the work that goes into the technology of these bikes.
The whole setup of the launch was great as it really showcased all the new products and better yet we got to test drive all the new stuff, so I was like a kid in a Candy shop as I tested the new S Works Venge, Shiv and the Roubaix. I can tell you that the bikes are going to get better and better!
After Cairns I was back home for another 3 days before jumping on a plane again to Port Douglas for the Tri Port Long Course Race. This time I had the family in tow which was good as with all the time away in August I really missed my little girl, its amazing how quick they can grow up even in just a few weeks. I arrived in Port Douglas on the Wednesday and really wanted to make a holiday out of this trip and enjoy the fantastic weather of Port Douglas.
I am actually part of a good initiative set up by my friend Guy Besley called Team Latitude which consists of myself, Tim Van Berkel, Adam Gordon, Mitch Anderson, Ben Woods and Dan and Mitch Robins. You can check the website at www.teamlatitude.com, it’s a great inititive which is all about supporting grass roots triathlon which I love doing as this is really where the sport and bigger events are grown from. I checked into Hibiscus Resort and Spa and was pleasantly surprised no how fantastic this accomodation was and it really made our stay even more enjoyable.
The Port long course race starts on a Saturday and used to start at 11am, which was just brutal, and believe me I can testify to that fact after pulling out of the race in 2009, this year the start was changed to 9am. The course starts on 4 mile beach which is just amazing with its crystal blue waters and white sand, then it hits the backoads of Mossman for a 3 lap 94km windy bike leg. The run is mostly along the hard sand of the beach all the while jumping over backpackers lying on the beach for 21km!
The race was designated a wetsuit swim at the last minute, much to the delight of Tim Berkel and Mitch Anderson who didnt even bring one due to previous years being no wet suit. I would have done the same thing excpet that my bike box was still packed from Yeppoon 70.3 and my X Terra wetsuit was luckily still lying in a salt crusted state at the bottom of my bike bag!
The swim was a surprise for me as I really was not that confident of my water prowess recently, but I managed to stay with Alex Rigby and surprisingly Berkel came out on our feet sans wetsuit!, we had about a minute to Gordon, Robbins x2, Anderson, Spackman etc. I atually didnt feel great on the bike as Berkel pushed the pace toward Mossman which I was not surprised at as he has just come down from a few months hard training in Boulder, but toward the end of the ride I started to feel better and we both held on tour advantage over the chasing pack.
I actually lost my bike rack coming into T2 and stood there for about a minute looking for it while Berkel hit the sand, once I racked though I actually started running quite well, and ran up to Tim at about 1km. It started to get quite hot at this point and with a 3 lap course on the sand and Heartbreak hill at one end each time , I just decided to cruise along with Tim and leave it to a sprint finish. It was good to have some company out there as 21km is a long way on the sand.
I managed to sneak a win from Tim, which was good as I didnt finish here a few years ago. most of all I got through the race unscathed and ticked the box on a solid training day in the heat!
After the race the boys were treated to an all you can drink festival/after party at Zinc Restuarant which was awesome before witnessing some of Guy Besleys moves on the dance floor at the Iron Bar late into the evening. I must say that this whole weekend was a blast and anyone that is looking to get an early season race in should head up there as its great to take the family and get away from a cold winter.
I am back in Adelaide now and finally things have settled down, and I can get in some sort of routine and prepare for my upcoming races which will be the Australian Duathlon Championships, Mandarah 70.3, Port Mac 70.3, Murrayman Long Course, Shepparton 70.2, Phuket 70.3 and Canberra 70.3. So my schedule is jam packed starting from October and i am really looking forward to racing a heap of 70.3s as I am really enjoying them at the moment, so I hope to see you out there at the races!