I would just like to preface this race report by saying that I am writing this in the comfort of fellow Transitions member, Trout Wayth (Ironpo), who has kindly given up a bed in his home in Porepunkah (next to Bright) to me for a week so that I can complete a training camp in the lead up to Ironman Melbourne. I am so grateful to Rosie and himself for having me and it is such a testament to the type of culture that this sport so often breeds. Thank you.
Looking at the forecast leading up to race day, one thing was obvious, it was going to be a typical Melbourne day at the office. For some reason, however, I was excited by that prospect. Living in Melbourne, I know exactly what each wind direction brings to the course along Beach Rd and thus I knew exactly what we would be facing, which, in my opinion, was a huge advantage.
Waking up race morning at 4am is forever a daunting task to me but there is something to be said about sleeping in your own bed and thus I woke up feeling refreshed and relaxed, always a good sign. Racing nervous and stressed has never proven to be overly beneficial to performance for myself. Rolling into the race venue and things were looking exactly as expected. Rough seas, grey skies, wind, and, an ominous drizzle. Yet something about it felt oh so right…
Lining up on the start line and the strength of the field assembled really started to hit home, it was obvious the first couple of hundred metres was going to be crucial. About seven minutes after the ‘two minutes till start’ call and we were off! After a quick start, an elegant dolphin dive, and navigating the treacherous ‘bay waves’ rolling into the Brighton foreshore, I soon found myself entrenched in the middle of the rather large main group. It soon became very evident that, apart from the three ‘superfish’ off the front, we would more or less be staying together as one big school of more reasonable fish, 1min 45sec off the lead three once we exited the washing machine that Brighton Beach had become.
Out of the water and the determination set in to have a quick transition in order to avoid missing the group out onto the bike. In, out, and before I knew it I was on the brand new Cannondale steed. Unfortunately Leon Griffin (the eventual winner) and Monty Frankish were both able to ‘out transition’ me and with their strong ride/run pedigree, I did not see them again until the finish line. For the 1st 15km I did not look back once for the fear of the impending doom of some very strong athletes being behind me. After sharing the pace making with eventual 2nd place, Nick Kastelein, we were able to assess who had latched on at the first turn around. As it turned out, there was a fair few. I could more or less name all the athletes in the ‘group’ (a loose term in a non-drafting race I suppose) and some of the good results that they have achieved in their career, a sign that I had put myself in a good position. Whilst the bike remained relatively uneventful, with no real attacks, I aimed to keep myself either on, or close to, the front. The purpose was simply to stay as close as possible to lead four and also to try and make sure that no one could get too much of a free ride in the group.
Technically I got off the bike in 6th place, however, given that 5th through 12th all arrived into transition within the space of about 15sec it wasn’t an overly meaningful statistic. After a reasonably quick T2, by my snail like standards, I was off onto the three lap ocean side run course. When I say the good runners (who would eventually run onto the podium) went out ‘fast,’ I mean they went out FAST. What is even more impressive is their ability to then settle into such a high pace for the rest of the run. As a 20 year old, I do not expect to yet be running that fast, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t far off. I am, however, excited by the prospect that over my future years I can continue to improve my run to a point where I can be competitive in a foot race against the top runners. After a quick toilet stop in order to release the ever tightening bowels at about the 9km mark, I was able to continue running at a consistent pace. Eventually passing Matty Reed in the dying kilometres and holding off those coming from behind off the bike, I was able to finish in 12th place with a time of 4hr and 1min (Leon Griffin won the race in 3.51). For now, I am very happy with that result. I am getting closer and closer to the front of the race and that is an exciting prospect for the coming year.
For now, it is time to continue laying down the work to be ready to rumble on March 22nd for Ironman Melbourne. I cannot wait.
As always, thank you so much to all the people that support me such as my sponsors Jaggad, Cannondale, ENVE, SRAM, Bell, and, Fizik. Also to my coach, Andy Sleeman, my parents, and, my friends and mentors (you guys know who you are), thank you. I look forward to doing you proud in the future.
Images courtesy: Challenge Family/Getty Images