You could have mistaken this race for something completely different after seeing triathletes entering a F1 circuit. Knowing that this has been a custom built course for super fast cars to go whizzing around on just makes me want to jump into one for a few hot laps. Anyone have Daniel Ricciardo on speed dial? But the fun didn’t stop there.
Ohhh Challenge Bahrain, I can’t convey the overwhelming excitement when you stay in such a beautiful hotel and then to also have your very own driver who will take you anyway at anytime. You may think that all this travelling and racing we get to stay in 5-star hotels. I hate to burst the bubble, but this isn’t the case, usually. The attention to personal service was just breathtaking and something I’ve not experienced anywhere before.
The whole Challenge Bahrain team have produced a spectacular event, one that has not just impressed the athlete’s but has also gone a long way to supporting the spectators. As you know, online viewing of events seems simple, right? But it seems a lot of people can’t get it right. Challenge has nailed the online broadcasting. They did it without any problems which have hampered many other events in the past. What a way to ensure fans all around the world can watch the best athletes hit it out. Also throw in Jan Frodeno and Macca and you’ve got some really knowledgeable people to talk tactics and give great insight.
Let’s now move away from the all-day buffet and get into my race and how it unfolded.
Don’t be fooled by the calm and warm conditions here in Bahrain. Thankfully I went for a full wetsuit as the water temperature was a little cooler than first expected. The swim took place in the bay with an out and back format. Sometimes I can be lucky and not get involved in any water carnage, but this time I didn’t. Hands, elbows, legs, you name it, hit me during the first few minutes – not intentionally though. Then add in the fact that my goggles were hit hard a few times and even fill up with water twice. Ahhh well, that’s racing for you.
Heading into the turnaround point, we were single file. I’d finally got myself into my race rhythm and slowing getting the arms turning without incident. I was happy to sit by why others made a few changes in the group. Coming out of the water and into T1 I was in the second bunch. I did a quick check as to who was a head of me – I counted about 6 guys, including 3 Aussies, Brad, Luke and Tim. All of these guys are fairly string swimmers compared to me. Thankfully I wasn’t too far off the pace with a 22:41 either – around 1:30 down.
The bike course was something I was really looking forward to. Super smooth roads and the new 20 meter non-drafting rule. More on the non-drafting rule a little later on. This course was designed for one thing and one thing only, go fast. There certainly wasn’t much in the way of hills either with around 220 meters of elevation of the course.
During the first part of the ride I was getting dropped like a hot potato. No sooner had I got comfortable and I would get passed again. I felt very sluggish.
My tactics to this point as I was starting to mentally checkout were;
- just get through the bike and look forward to the run
- draft zone is harder but works in my favour
- a tailwind
- check the road markings as I don’t want any penalties
Could someone remind me when and where was the tailwind as I must have missed them? The first half of the bike I managed to push out around 273 watts for an average speed of 42km/h.
The back half of the bike I seemed to pull it together a little. My legs and mental attitude were both going in the right direction now and I settled in for a good last half. Coming into T2 I averaged 264 watts with an average speed of just over 42km/h.
Onto the run and where I was hoping to peg a few places back, or so I had pictured doing that. I came out of T2 in 12th position and had a bit of work to do to at least make the top ten. For a course like this, you are going to need to stay very fast and run an average 3:30/km to stay in the hunt for a good result.
Just like the bike leg I’d felt fairly flat and was being past like I was standing still. I just kept telling myself, “run consistently in the back half and you’ll make some ground up.” I kew after the heading out of T2 with a deficit of around 8 minutes I’d need a miracle to get a podium.
Ticking off the first 3.5km mark and I wasn’t showing greta signs of speed running an average of 3:43/km. Thankfully the sun hadn’t really reared its head and was a pleasant 21 or I was going to be in for a long day in the sun. Again, getting halfway through the run I felt better and was picking up the pace. I was now ticking of the kilometres in around 3:38/km and had made up some places that I’d lost at the start of the run.
Towards the closing part of the run is where I made up a few places with a few 3:30s/km. Overall, my finishing time was 3:47:01 which put me in 10th position.
Huge congrats to everyone especially my mate Tim Reed who killed it out there to come home in 3rd place. Business class home for you now.
So that closes out my 2014 season and what a joy it has been. I really look forward to coming back here next year for another go.