Challenge Forster (pronounced Foster)
Well it had been a busy 2 weeks prior to the race and to be honest, by the time I got on the plane to head to Sydney I was a little over it all. I realised it really hadn’t been that long since I was doing this in Europe and those psychological demons started their work, but all the while I fought them off.
It was cool to have the Challenge Family back in Australia, not only for Aussies, but for us kiwi’s too. There are only so many races that can be held in NZ, so the more variety in AUS the better it is for us all. It’s no secret I am a big fan of Challenge and it was even cooler to have them where the heart of triathlon in Australia lays, Forster.
The weather gods played a little havoc with us during the build-up and on race day, but I was happy to have a bit of wind, rain and the cooler temperatures.
I led the swim and knew as soon as I took that first stride that my legs were struggling. Once on the bike it was even more apparent and those demons who had been doing their best to derail me during the build-up took one last stand. This race was all about giving me a boost before my Wanaka training starts and I managed to fend them off one last time and battled through one of my worst bike rides ever. I really was a useless piece of s…!
Never mind, I got off the bike very far behind the leader but running in contention for 7th place. I even managed to haul in 1 other from the group in front and ended up finishing 6th.
More than happy with that after a tough build-up and like I said earlier, these 2 weeks were done solely with Wanaka in mind. There is an awesome field lining up this year and it is going to be one hell of a race.
I’ll report in prior to Wanaka.
Thanks for reading and I hope everyone has a great Christmas and New Year.
Train hard and keep safe!
Southern Alps Tour 2013
Dunedin to Balclutha - 103km
2 stages – 1 KOM & 2 SPRINTS
Day 1 started well with a buffet breakfast and a full stomach. This quickly went down hill, figuratively speaking any way.
Heading out of the hotel and straight up one of Dunedin’s infamous steep streets for the first 1km or so was a great way to start the Southern Alps Tour (not) and as Dan said in his intro, “this is the Southern ALPS tour, not the Southern FLAT tour.”
So off we went towards the first stage and the first KOM, which was up a “long but steady climb.” The climb was 6km long and was more akin to 1minute at V02max and 1minute recovery (x20). I think I am going to wear earplugs for the rest of the tour, too many mind games going on already!
Richard Ussher rode his (barely legal) road bike to the stage victory, edging Chris McDonald by no more than a minute, and well and truly edging me. In fact, the edge of the cliff was looking pretty appealing while riding up that climb.
Stage two saw us head out on a ‘flat’ section of the tour. Again I needed those ear plugs. With a few attacks thrown in over a few of those ‘flat hills’ that have been quite frequent so far, I found myself 100-200m behind Rich and Chris over the first sprint mark. A group of 4 of us managed to keep working and slowly pulled back the deficit that the boys at the front obviously knew wasn’t worth holding…!?
The pace heated up when some incognito motor-pacing took place and the road actually and finally went flat for a change. With 2km to go until the 2nd and final sprint of the day I decided I should utilise my TT bike a little and have a crack early. I got to the sprint first and with a small gap of maybe 100m. With 4-5km to go until the stage finish I decided to keep pushing and try my luck.
I was joined by my fellow TTer, Chris (Big Sexy) McDonald, with a few km’s to go. He thought 50kmph was a good speed to ride and I didn’t really have the chance to express my concerns. I popped about 100m from the line, finishing 2nd to Chris, and managing to pull a little time back on Richard. It will be a tight race between those two boys for the yellow, but at least I might be in the green jersey… for one day anyway.
Tomorrow we ride through one of best kept secrets and most epic areas in New Zealand, the Catlins. I’ll try and throw a few photo’s up as we go (www.dylanmcneice.com/media)
Yellow - Chris
KOM - Richard
Sprint - Dylan
Balclutha to Invercargill, via The Catlins – 164km
3 stages – 2 KOM & 2 SPRINTS
Day 2 started with a 40min run and what is becoming the standard buffet breakfast.
We then rolled our way through the green pastures of lower Otago before crossing the heavily fortified (by mountains and friendly locals) border in to Southland.
The first stage had a couple of climbs with KOM points on the line. Richard took the first one pretty comfortably, but was rolled by Chris on the second one and was lucky that I was busy playing race photographer instead of concentrating on the sprint to come… yeah sure. The stage finished with another climb and once again it was Richard who took the honours.
It was a pretty amazing stage with some spectacular views of the ocean and beach’s along the way.
We then rolled out for an open stage and saved the fireworks until the end. The down hill sprint was a goodie, but Richard once again got his big nose in front (literally by a nose) and showed us his all-round ability. I simply couldn’t get in front. Chris had a puncture only a couple hundred meters from the finish line, or so he says, I didn’t hear a thing.
The next stage was a bit flatter and included a couple of sprints. The Big Man Dan managed to suck my wheel for long enough to win the first sprint, but even with the blocking help of his brother, Big Sexy, he still wasn’t able to hold me off for my first stage win. Time to retire…
We then had an ‘easy’ spin to the bottom of the infamous Bluff Hill. 26km later we arrived after battling through a tailwind? Odd.
Bluff Hill is pretty ridiculous and either the builders of the hill or the builders of the road, or both, should be shot. We set off at 30 second intervals and it was Richard who again took demoralised us with cruise to victory over Chris and myself.
A big shout out to everyone who rode up that hill and even those who had to walk! It kicks up to around 25% at one stage and it takes a herculean effort just to stay upright.
It was a big day today, 182km in total, and tomorrow is a big one with no real respite. All essentially up hill in to the beautiful Lake Te Anau region.
A few photos are up.
Thanks for reading.
Invercargill to Te Anau – 189km
3 Stages – 1 KOM, 1 SPRINT, & 1 TTT
Southland didn’t disappoint on day 3. The token buffet breakfast, rain, wind, and some awesome scenery greeted us, as well as a stage straight out of the Tour of Southland books.
Chris, Richard and I snuck in a swim at Splash Palace under my old and legendary swimming coach Jeremy Duncan. He kept us honest for 4 or so km’s and then sent us on our way for 189 clicks on the bike.
The stage started wet and remained that way for the first 80odd km’s. As the stage wore on we battled more and more wind and had some hairy moments along the deep south coast with a howling and gusting cross wind. ‘Big Man Dan’ tried a solo break earlier than most (clean) Tour de France riders would consider possible and this poor decision was made even more obvious when his own team mate pulled him in after 15-20minutes. As his brother ‘Big Sexy’ said, “you have the racing brain of a rat” (C. McDonald. Aka Big Sexy. 2013).
The stage was won by the now wise and sexy ‘Big Wise Sexy’ in a sprint that left Richard and I feeling like he had a few more weet-bix than us for breakfast… since he was born!
We all arrived in Tuatapere alive and most of us in one piece, minus Crunchy who has a knee that has been gnawing away at him since his ascent of Bluff hill yesterday.
After a good feed we saddled up and shot off towards Manapouri with a ‘you wouldn’t read about it’ result up the only KOM of the day. Yip, Richard cleaned us up and made it look way too easy, which is why I didn’t look. He also won the sprint on this stage, but we are all getting bored of hearing about Richard winning everything.
Once in Manapouri it was Team Time Trial time. Teams of 4 and a couple of 3 were set off on the 20km’s to Te Anau. It was good fun and a good way to end a 189km day. A big mention must go to my team of Noel (68 years old), Stewart (63 years old), and Martin (54 years old. Corrected). They were on fire and managed an average of 35.4kmh. Not too shabby considering what they have been through over the last few days.
Tomorrow we get to do what very little people have ever done and that is ride through the Milford tunnel. It should be fun in the dark, wet, slippery and pothole filled road. We will finish in Te Anau again in preparation for our final assault towards Queenstown on day 5.
Milford Sound to Te Anau, via the Milford tunnel (yes, on our bikes!) – 118km
1 stage – 1 KOM (where’s my road bike when I need it!)
Day 4 saw us awake to the most anticipated day of the tour.
Although in your mind it is all ‘downhill’ after making it through the halfway mark and completing day 3, the fourth day saw the biggest and toughest climb (ranked #2 climb in NZ) rise up to meet us. Milford Sound is one of the most renowned scenic and tourist locations in NZ. The place is just stunning, but it is located in what used to be one of the most inaccessible parts of NZ. Never mind though, some nutters (thank you) decided to build a road and a tunnel through to it.
The road from the tunnel to Milford includes a 16km climb at an average gradient of 10% and views consist mainly of almost sheer vertical cliffs and flowing waterfalls.
Thankfully a truce was called at the bottom while we ate our second buffet breakfast of sand flies covered in insect repellent and we decided to enjoy the views rather than breath razor blades as we did on all other climbs. We were then escorted as a group through the homer tunnel, a 1.5km, pretty bloody steep, wet, and dark hole in the rock. An experience some of us may never get the chance to do again and one we’ll never forget.
Once we cleared the mountain and the tunnel we re-grouped and set off on an 88km open stage, with one mystery KOM. It is now no mystery that I won my first KOM in a ball-busting sprint to the line with Richard, Big Sexy, Big Man Dan, and Mike ;)
We continued on and the tempo slowly, but surely, started to pick up. I would love to say that I enjoyed every meter of the ride and took in every ounce of scenery along the way, but that would be lying. All I really saw were wheels, chip-seal, gel packets, a muesli bar, and the odd ass when I looked up or in the wrong place. Never the less it was a great ride and just adds to the whole experience of heading in and out of Milford. It is rolling terrain through forests, fields, and follows the Hollyford River down the valley back to Te Anau.
The stage ended with another, but the same, lesson for Richard and me. We need to eat a shit load more Weet-bix if we want to beat Big Sexy in a sprint. He was the champ of the day and well deserved after pulling some big turns on our way back.
A special mention has to go to everyone who got through today. It was cold, hot and a bit of wind thrown in there, not to mention the tough terrain and of course the 460odd other kilometres that had been ridden over the 3 days prior.
Our last day beckons us and it will not be easy with Te Anau to the Crown Range on the menu. There will be a lot of rollers along the way to keep the legs honest, but also and as usual, some amazing scenery to boot.
Catch you tomorrow… I hope!
Te Anau to Queenstown, hill top finish on the Crown Range – 180km
4 stages – 2 KOM & 2 SPRINTS
Our final day dawned in the beautiful tourist town of Te Anau once again.
Our ride for day 5 was equally as beautiful, if not the most stunning day of the tour.
Our route took us from Te Anau all the way through to Queenstown and beyond, finishing up on the crown range.
The morning silence was broken by a lot of chatter about the ridiculousness of riding literally within 100m of our hotel for the night, the Hilton Queenstown, and waving it good bye for another couple of hours for the chance to go and bury ourselves for the last time with a 3km individual time trial up the switch backs on the crown range.
The ride to lunch included a couple of stages. The first of which had a sprint, which I once again let Dan have the line honours ;), a KOM, which Richard of course won, and then nothing until the finish line. Matt, the B-Grade Break King, decided to do what he does best and try his luck once more for a stage victory. He broke away with 20km to go and despite the best efforts of the other B-grade riders he was able to come away with a great stage win (and an apparent ‘I can fart where ever I like ego’).
The next stage was a 15km individual time trial. I basically talked myself out of this one and was happy enough to eat humble pie after being whipped by all of the other A-grade men. Chris showed his power again and stormed through the 15km for the win.
At lunch the unanimously un-unanimous decision (yes it is supposed to make no sense) was made that the last part of the tour should be scrapped and instead we should enjoy our 5-star accommodation for a bit longer, along with a few beers. So we set off for our ‘last’ stage of the tour and the best really was saved to last. The views and road along the Southern Arm of Lake Wakatipu are simply wicked and the 60km’s went by in a flash, just like Chris ‘Big Sexy’ McDonald when he decided that the only way he could win the tour was to put some big time in to Richard in a surprise, blitzkrieg like attack on the group. The only thought that went through my head was “are you f…ing kidding me,” and no he wasn’t. I saw Richard go after him like a cut cat (as well as B-Grade Break King Matt for 100m) and so I decided that this would have to be my last effort of the tour. It was a lost cause. Richard managed to hold the damage to 25 seconds and effectively, bar a melt down on the crown range (which we weren’t riding anyway?), secured the tour title.
Sweet tour over! But of course it wasn’t, as we sailed by within a stone’s throw of our accommodation towards the crown range.
As I set off on my time trial up the crown range my legs and mind exploded and I wondered what the hell I was doing… but for the last time. At that moment I thought of all those other mad people riding up the hill in front of me who hadn’t complained a bit and were smashing themselves up this final ascent. I told myself to harden up and ride like I stole it.
At the top it was over and I was (secretly) pleased to have held off a flying Richard up the climb (he did start a minute behind, but who is counting!?).
There is no better way to spend 5 days if you love the outdoors, riding a bike, and testing your limits. A great time was had by all and I am sure they and many more will all be back for the 3rd edition of the Southern Alps Tour in November 2014.
A massive thank you must go to the support crew and organisers. Kay, Dan, Nadine, Russell, Tina, Brett, Markus, and Lachy made it the tour it was by providing a foundation and then backing that up with what ever was needed to make it happen during the tour.
Of course congratulations to everyone who made it through the tour. It is a pretty amazing achievement for anyone and even as a professional it was still my biggest bike week ever. A bit under 800km in 5 days. Not too bad!
See you all next year and thanks for reading!
Season Preview 2013-2014
So it has been a while since I last wrote, but things are heating up and the season ahead is looking busy. Therefore I thought it was time to let those who are interested know my plans.
The next few weeks are super busy and I am looking forward to a couple of races and a few awesome bike rides around the South Island of NZ
First up this weekend is the South Island Half Ironman Champs at Lake Hood in Ashburton. This is a good chance to get an early hit out in the legs and has provided some good motivation for training over the last 4 weeks. It’s a pretty impressive field for little old Ashburton with Richard Usher (multi-sport legend) and Chris McDonald (twice Ironman champ for 2013 alone) lining up, not to mention a host of other up-and-coming and solid athletes.
After Ashburton it will be off to the Christchurch races on Tuesday, followed by a trip to Dunedin on Wednesday, and then the Start of the Southern Alps tour for the following 5 days (http://southernalpstour.co.nz/). The tour is an all-inclusive 5-star bike tour/race, taking in some of the South Islands most beautiful spots and rides.
After I return home on Tuesday the 19th, I will then be on a plane to Sydney on Wednesday heading for the first of the new Challenge events at Forster (http://challengeforster.com.au/). Hopefully after a busy couple of weeks with some higher intensity thrown in there I will be able to produce a decent result!
After Forster I will have an easy week of recovery and a wedding thrown in there before the Build-up to Challenge Wanaka starts early December.
Hope to see you all out there over the summer!
Thanks for reading
Quick Wrap up after Challenge Almere-Amsterdam
Post Font Romeu – Pre Challenge Almere-Amsterdam
After a much needed break in the Portuguese resort town of Lagos I was somewhat reluctant, but also keen to get back in to training. I knew it would hurt and I knew the first couple of weeks wouldn’t be that enjoyable. On top of this I also decided to spend 3 big weeks of training up at the French Altitude Training mecca of Font Romeu.
After a patchy first 2 weeks finding my feet again. I was up the mountain and living at almost 1900m. It was tough to say the least for the first week, but settled in and got some great training done. All in all I ended with the biggest 3 week block of my life.
As usual, I am writing this little update on the train from Sete to Marseille Airport and I am in to my first week of taper. WOW, am I feeling the altitude affect or what! But not the good one yet… I very much hope it is coming next week some time. I am super tired after my effort up the mountain and I now have 9 days to let it all sink in, recover, and find the form and freshness that I will definitely need in Almere.
I am looking forward to racing the flat and fast course and listening to the sweet sound of a disc wheel rolling for the first time this season!
I will race hard and aggressively and see what happens. 4 Iron-distance events in my first year is a good haul and I am hoping my mind and body will respond ‘positively’ to the last race of the season.
Mexico is my reward at the end of this tunnel, so I better make sure I have a result worth drinking a few corona’s over.
Until next time.
Over and out
Challenge Roth – where you can race badly, but still love the experience, it is that good!
Roth is everything it is hyped up to be.
From the moment you arrive and are introduced to your homestay to the moment the massive fireworks go off to signal the end of another Challenge Roth year (and the volunteers party and after party!).
The homestay system is great and gives you that home away from home feeling you can often desire while travelling and racing. It is also a necessity for the race as there are only 24 hotel beds in the town of Roth! Racers are spread around the region of Roth in homestays and camp grounds. If a hotel bed is a must, then head to Nuremburg and crash there. It’s not far and the race is reasonably easy to get to from the city.
The expo and entire set-up is massive and it echoes the title of ‘Largest Iron-Distance Race in the World’ where ever you wonder. The finishing stadium holds some 8,000 spectators and is full throughout the day and night. Police estimates for the total number of spectators out on course on race day were 220,000, a new record, and I believe it. Solarer hill is nuts and that’s all there is to it!
The course is not the free flowing, speed giving, downhill race that so many think it is. The swim is an accurate 3.8, but the smooth canal water and straight lines make for some quick times, while the bike is much tougher than people expect. If you are not having a great day it is a course where your losses will be compounded on the many up and down sections where you need all the power you can get. In fact, there is very little ‘flat’ on the Roth ride and although the winds are not strong, they can still have an effect on you as you take the many twists and turns that the course also offers.
The run is not short, if you expect to have 10km to go at the 30 or 31km mark then you have a long 10km ahead of you! It can get hot out there on the canal also and the long straights require some mental fortitude to stay focused and consistent.
All in all the course is awesome and one you’d expect from a very nice region of Germany, but remember, do not head to Roth expecting to smash your PB unless you are fully prepared for its challenges.
My build up went about as well as I could have hoped under the circumstances; a quick turnaround after Taiwan with some long travel, a race, a crash, some sore ribs and a tired body for a lot of it. However, I got to Roth confident and fit and felt great come race morning.
The swim went well; I didn’t push very hard and kept it very controlled, which is maybe something I’ll change up a bit for next year! My transition 1 was a shocker. I couldn’t get my race belt clip done up because it was the wrong way around and my socks were stuck at the bottom of my bike bag, which was now having my wetsuit shoved into it. So I had to calmly figure out the clip issue, empty my bike bag again and then put on my socks. I lost about 45 seconds and that wasn’t ideal, especially after the ‘known’ importance of being out on to the bike first in Roth (another story).
Anyway, I got going and again was feeling great on the bike. I had a little hiccup going the wrong way at one stage, costing me another 30 seconds, but all this was irrelevant really. I slowly caught the other 3 guys who were in front of me, leaving Dirk Bockel still out there and, as we would discover later, smashing it! I rode in that 2nd position until about the 25km mark where the big group caught us and we joined in with the pace line.
I was cruising along thinking that this race was going to be great. It was pretty easy in the group and the odd surges that hurt are just part of group riding. At about 40km and at the top of the hill where it flattens off to a false flat for a few km’s I noticed a gap opening up in front of the rider in front of me. I went around him and went to close the gap, but I couldn’t. I had nothing, zip, didly squat, and went backwards from there. By the 60km mark I felt as though I was completely spent. The next 120km’s were not that enjoyable and I watched many riders roll past me and there was nothing I could do.
By the time I got off the bike I was out of the race and my hopes of at least stumbling to a top 10 were gone. I got running and ran a solid marathon, no real x-factor in the running legs, but plenty of strength, and finished in decent shape in 20th place.
There are many things that I will change for round 2 in Roth and hopefully many things that I hope to avoid. I have no excuses, I raced as hard as I could and did the best I could on the day. Everyone that beat me fully deserved it and the guys who were top 10 all raced well and especially the podium guys.
Although it wasn’t the day I wanted, it was still an awesome experience out there.
It truly is a must do and I’ll be back next year for another crack at it.
As of now I am sitting on a train heading to Hamburg to watch the Tri NZ crew smash it out around the streets in the World Triathlon Series sprint event on Saturday and the Teams event on Sunday.
Come Monday, I will be on a plane to Portugal and on Tuesday I’ll be lying on the beach with a beer in one hand and probably a beer in the other! I well and truly need the week to refresh and reset before I start my final European build-up to Challenge Almere-Amsterdam on September 14th!
Thanks for all the support before, during and after the race. It is so cool to hear from so many.
A special thanks to Baz and Sandie Dodds and George Gibson for coming all the way from NZ to cheer me on. It was awesome to have you guys there!
Hope everyone is doing well.
Catch you all soon!
Check out some images from Roth
Europe 2013 – One month in.
Not long after touching down back in NZ from Taiwan it was time to jump back on a big aeroplane again and shoot off to Europe for the first time in a few years. I was heading to Gigean, between Montpellier and Sete, in the South of France. This is Laurent Vidal and Andrea Hewitt’s Northern hemisphere summer training and living base.
They have an incredible set-up in Gigean/Sete and it was great to be made to feel right at home as soon as I made the train trip from Marseille.
The training and climate are simply awesome, and together with that homely feel I finally think I’ve found a place that I can call a home away from home and a place I can get the job done in the Northern Hemisphere, something I’ve never done in the past.
I’ve never truly been happy or settled anywhere other than in Christchurch or Wanaka, but can now add Gigean to the list!
After a couple of big weeks training I headed back to Germany for my first hit out of the European summer. Challenge Kriachgau is an amazing course, challenging, crazy spectators and generally great weather. Come race morning though it really decided to rain after a couple of stella days. Thunder and lightning were right above us and the right decision was made to postpone the race by 1 hour. There were some big German names racing Kraichgau, as it was the German half-distance championships. I was coming in pretty heavy from training, but I was really looking forward to racing hard and mixing it up a little more than I have done with my two iron-distance races so far. I knew I definitely wouldn’t get it my own way like I had in those 2 races.
I got passed in the swim about halfway by some fish and as I was feeling rather terrible there was no way I could go with him. I’ve later learned that he was one of Germanys top open water swimmers and has just made the switch to Triathlon. So maybe even if I was feeling awesome I still wouldn’t have been able to swim with him… he is doing Roth, so I guess I’ll find out. Anyway, myself and German legend Maik Petzold came out about of the water about 20seconds down on him, but I managed to get out of transition first and off on the bike.
To my surprise I had some good legs and started moving along reasonably well. It had stopped raining, I think, but the roads were still soaking week. I hit the first round-about with speed and hit the deck even faster. I slid a good distance, almost had time for a cup of tea, but had plenty of time to almost sit-up and enjoy the slide. It was a weird feeling, it was almost fun and yet I knew the whole time I was sliding that I was losing skin.
Anyway I was only about 2km in and my hopes of a good result kept riding past me while the medics did there thing. After about 5 minutes I was allowed to sign my life away and get going again. I had to finish the race as it was always planned as a key session to end a couple of big weeks and I felt as though if I missed it I was losing a lot more than some skin.
It took a while to get the legs pumping again, but managed to get a good ride out of it and then a good hit out on the run. I’m a true diesel now, I actually couldn’t have run any faster, but felt that overall I could have done an iron-distance race that day. This was a good sign to me 5 weeks out from Roth and similar to my chain of thought prior to Taiwan.
I have spent the last 5 days back in my old German club city of Darmstadt with the latest kiwi addition to their team, Cam Goldsmid. Keep an eye on that boy, he’s got some speed and a lot of determination! It was great to be back in Darmstadt and to catch up with everyone. It was a surreal feeling to be back there in a completely different situation to the years past. A much better situation I would say!
So, I am sitting on the train heading back to Gigean, its hot and sunny and tomorrow I start the final 2 week push for Roth. I really cannot wait to race Roth. The pressure is on, but I’m enjoying it and it is keeping me extremely honest in everything I do. I head that way on the 2nd of July for some recon and the gun goes off on the 14th July.
Hope everyone is doing great in whatever it is you are doing and where ever you are.
Will catch up soon.
Check out my media page for some photos of the first month here in Europe.
When I saw the footage of the course in Taiwan I was amazed of how little it reminded me of a stereotypical Asian race venue. What I saw was rugged coastlines through to massive mountains and it was exactly that which greeted us on our arrival in to Taitung.
I went in to the race with a lot of self-inflicted pressure. I felt as though it was almost more important for me to perform in Taiwan than it was in Wanaka. I had a lot to prove to myself and I guess to many others also. I figured a podium would be a good result, but it wouldn’t really fill that void that I knew I had to if I was to push on and be confident that this was something I could do successfully day in and day out, not just a lucky race here and a lucky race there. A win was what I felt I needed.
The last 7-8 weeks of training I had were completely focused on the race in Taiwan and they went great. I felt as though I had some really good form and was ready to race 3-4 weeks prior to the actual date. This extra 3-4 weeks gave me a little extra edge over Wanaka’s preparation and I definitely felt that extra edge during the race and even more so in the days after.
The bamboo cannon went off at 6am and about 20 pro’s dove in to the ‘flowing lake.’ I set off with a bit of tempo and tried to hold that throughout the swim, finishing up with a 47.00 non-wetsuit swim, but taking quite a bit of effort to get there. I wanted a lead and so forced the pace a little and was happy to hear that I had 3 minutes to Todd Skipworth and 5.00 to Georg Potribitsch out of the water. I considered Todd a real dark-horse threat and I knew Georg would push me the whole way. I had some good time on the others including Jamie Whyte, but I knew if I gave them half a chance they would ride me down.
On to the bike and I had some good legs straight away. I had very little idea of time gaps throughout the ride, hearing the odd shout (2) from supporters. I felt as though I pushed a little hard for the first 45km and Todd informed me after that I put another 2minutes in to them through to that first turn-around at 45km – that was sometime I later gave up on the bike and more!
I kept pushing throughout the ride, forcing down nutrition and making my stomach one unhappy passenger! I didn’t enjoy the ride very much as I always felt as though I had the others snapping at my heels, which I did. Approaching the end of the 180km I was beginning to think that I had worked too hard to hold off the others and prepared myself for what could be a rather long and painful run with the potential of a meltdown.
A big difference from Wanaka to Taiwan was my back and the major fact that it never seized up. This meant that I was able to push right through the ride and got off the bike in one piece and with the use of some pretty crucial muscles! My lead had dwindled a little and was down to about 2.30 to Todd and 4.30 to Georg.
The moment of truth is always when you take those first few strides off of the bike and to my surprise they felt great. With no back issues to contend with while putting on my shoes I was quickly out on the road and in to my 2nd ever marathon… just as daunting as the first.
The run course was also pretty cool, plenty of changes in scenery and terrain, running through city streets, parks, and walk ways.
The first 20 odd km’s went much the same as the bike, that constant feeling of being chased and the thought of the others just waiting for a moment of weakness when everything can so easily fall apart.
I ran very controlled for 1 hour and the plan was to pick it up after that. I had some cramp issues at about the 10km mark in my calves and I very nearly thought my day was over. However, I quickly got to the bottom of the issue and that was the sports drink at the aid stations, which I decided to take for the first time just moments before the cramp hit. So it was nothing but water and my High 5 Iso-Gels for the remainder of the marathon (with some coke 500m from the finish line. How good it was!).
The second hour went well and I got through to the 2 hour mark in a good state, tired, but with no real muscle issues or soreness. At about this stage I got the call that my lead was out to 9 minutes.
It was an amazing feeling to hear a number like that and I was then able to back off a little bit and give my stomach a rest from the constant force feeding I had been doing, something I feel is inevitable in longer distance racing.
The last 5km was a grovel and by the time I got to 1km to go my mind was once again more on simply just finishing than the fact I was about to win and go 2 from 2 in my new found sport!
Taiwan was a different kind of race for me. There was no ‘just go out and enjoy it,’ it was more business. If I hadn’t had that approach I don’t think I would have won. A valuable lesson learnt for the future. The main thing is I still really enjoyed the whole package – the training, the racing, the pressure and the challenge of it all. I love the fact that on any given day you can’t simply go out and do an iron-distance race. It takes months of training your body and your head and it requires so much focus on one day, which I hsve found is something that makes me tick.
It has been almost 2 weeks since race day and I am still a bit shell-shocked with what has happened. I should probably snap out of it quickly though, as I head to Europe in 5 days and begin my build up for one of the greatest races on the planet, Challenge Roth. This will be a new kind of test for me, with anywhere up to 40 of the world’s best iron-distance racers taking the start line. It won’t just be me up the front, I could have a lot of company, and I am looking forward to seeing how I respond to racing side by side with some of the sport’s biggest names.
Thank you as always to my sponsors.
Specialized Bikes and Chain Reaction Cycles - For the incredible bike and setup, which made a world of difference.
Profile Design - For my aero bars, hydration system and incredible new 24series wheels.
Brooks Running – Simply the best and no other words can be said.
High 5 nutrition – Without MY nutrition I wouldn’t have made the finish line. I choose High 5 because it tastes the best, is race proven and is the easiest to get down, even when you’re forcing it.
Rudy Project – For my sweet helmet and glasses which are almost like wearing nothing, but do everything you ask of them at the same time.
AND of course thank you to everyone for the support. I sound like a broken record, but it is simply awesome and every single bit is greatly appreciated.
I’ll post again in a few weeks
Thanks again everyone
An update to keep you updated
So my last update was a wee while ago now and that one was my Wanaka race report. There hasn’t been a lot to report on race wise since then, but there has been a few things happening. One of the coolest things about racing such a major event so early on in the summer is that you then have the rest of the summer to recover and start the build up for the next race on the list. During this ‘recovery’ I have attended quite a few BBQ’s and drunk quite a few beers and have really enjoyed my post-Wanaka summer. It has been an interesting time since my first big win and it has been a nice feeling waking up in the mornings for training knowing that my job is triathlon, rather than the constant second guessing of my choice to chase this dream.
I did manage one race over the last 10 or so weeks, which was the ITU Oceania Championships in Wellington, NZ. I decided that I needed something to keep the motivation up and give me something to work towards. I went to Wellington looking forward to racing the shorter racing again, alas a little under-prepared, but still confident I could do something respectable. I managed to lead most of the swim and came out with a good bunch of Aussies and Kiwis. It was a tough first lap on the bike the body really wasn’t enjoying its first real extended period of high intensity exercise for some time. I managed to settle in a little, but really struggled with the surging. I got off on to the run and basically ran an even 10km as fast as I could muster (not very fast), which was only good enough for 16th place. Still not too bad a result for me considering the build-up and the fact that the race really didn’t mean anything to me other than a chance at a free night out thanks to a bet with Kris Gemmell (which I lost).
One thing that I have been working on quite a lot over the last 10 weeks is my race schedule for the Northern Hemisphere season. It’s all but carved in to stone and this is what it looks like.
Challenge Taiwan – 4th May – Iron-Distance
Challenge Kraichgau – 9th June – Half Distance
Challenge Roth – 14th July – Iron-Distance
Challenge Almere-Amsterdam – 14th September – Iron-Distance
Yes that is 3 Iron-Distance races still come. I’ve got the bug.
It is still an odd feeling going in to an away season with only 4 races on the schedule, but I am sure they’ll be more than enough.
I’ll be spending a good chunk of time training in the South of France with Andrea Hewitt and Laurent Vidal at their home just out of Sete. I am really looking forward to getting over there and building up for Roth and Almere.
There has been a bit of movement on the sponsor front for me, a nice little spin off from my win in Wanaka. Still a lot of work to do to be able to really make a living out of this sport, but it’s a step in the right direction and it’s nice to get some recognition.
I am super happy to name all these companies on my team for 2013. They are all great at what they do and it’s a cool feeling having so much support behind me.
High 5 – Nutrition.
Profile Design – Wheels, Aero Bars, and Hydration-Systems
Rudy Project – Helmets and Glasses.
Specialized – Bikes, Shoes and Accessories.
Brooks – For running happy.
Check them out on my sponsor’s page.
I was lucky enough to have a good choice in sponsors and I chose all these companies based on personal experience and the need to be as fast as I can be.
In 3 weeks today I will have raced Taiwan and I am hoping I will be sitting somewhere writing a good race report for you all. We shall see.
Twitter comment – A full breakdown
I wanted to clarify a comment I made on twitter about a week ago. Yes, below is a very big bitching session, but obviously I think this is a bit of a joke.
Here is the comment - @IronmanTri @HyVeeTri athletes race 5races with shit $ to qualify for the opportunity to make shit $? 100g's for 1st? #RichGetRicher
This was in response to the announcement that the 5150 series Championship race, the Des Moines Hy-Vee triathlon, formerly the world’s richest triathlon, would now have less than 50% of its stated prize money.
All in all these things happen, but the fact that it was left until April for this to be announced was diabolical. The first race of the 5150 series is less than a month away and I am sure that this has been something that would have been known to the organisers and WTC (Ironman – owner of the series) for quite some time. Most athletes would already have their seasons set in place, training, racing and travelling. Some would have already booked flights and accommodation and all this has been done because they want the chance to qualify for the biggest money triathlon in the world and the chance to make a better living out of the sport. A lot of athletes would also have significant bonuses tailored for the Hy-Vee Championships because of the races prestige and class and this announcement will reduce both of those and ultimately reduce a sponsor’s willingness to get behind their athletes in this race.
One thing that really gets to me about this is that those who raced Hy-Vee last year will remember the speech we got at briefing about how successful the race is/was and how the commercial return was well worth every dollar invested. I think the return was 5 to 1 – In other words for every $1 they spent Hy-Vee generated $5 in sales and exposure. This was really drilled in to us last year and meant that we all went away feeling pretty confident about the survival of the race.
When I heard the announcement I was sitting having a coffee with 3 Triathletes whose season was planned and based around Hy-Vee. Their disappointment, anger, and disbelief really were incredibly obvious and my comment was made more out of my feeling of disappointment for them than myself. I am not focusing on Hy-Vee this year and never will with that sort of reduction in prize money. Like stated by these athletes, Hy-Vee takes real investment throughout the season to qualify for the race. Five races count towards your qualification and with the added interest (that WAS there) this year it probably would have taken 5 races to qualify. That’s 5 flights, 5 lots of accommodation, food and other expenses, plus if you are a foreign athlete that is probably at least 1 month spent living in the USA at considerable expense. All this planning would have already been done and a lot of money already spent. Another note is for the Europeans who have in the past made up a good chunk of the professional field at Hy-Vee. We all know the rigors of travel and the costs involved. It is hard to imagine that Hy-Vee will generate as much interest for those Europeans looking to qualify now as it would be hard to justify spending considerable money to qualify for a race that now doesn’t really offer considerable return, unless of course you win.
This is where my next point comes in. $100,000 for the win, $20,000 for second? This is the worst prize purse breakdown I have seen. It is very likely that the winners will be the same as last year, they are simply that good, or the winners will be someone who is invited, not to mention the fact that last years winners do not have to qualify in the same fashion as everyone else, as they receive an automatic spot, which just needs to be validated through racing one other 5150 event. The athletes with the potential to win already make far more through endorsements and bonuses than those guys in 6th – 20th and light years more than those in 21st – 30th
This sour news has tried to be sweetened by the introduction of ‘better’ race times and a better finish line!? I can assure the organisers that the athletes were not fazed about the start time or finish line in the past because it is all part of the sport and they will not be fazed by the new times and finish line. I can also assure you that they are definitely fazed about the timing of this announcement and the more than 50% reduction in prize money.
They have made sure to cover their bases as best they can; after all, it is still the ‘biggest’ prize purse in Olympic distance racing and still carries a $100,000 first place prize. So, plenty of things to keep them looking good and plenty of things to keep the vast majority of athletes bank accounts looking terrible.
Sorry for the negativity, but sometimes it’s hard to be positive when so many good athletes are getting the very short end of the stick.
Like so many athletes this year and at years gone by I was woken to howling winds early on race morning. The good thing was it actually got me excited for the tough day that was to come and to race in the conditions I had trained for.
I had no expectations going in to the race, but I had told my friends and family that I wanted a podium finish to ‘finish’ my career. So I figured 3rd, maybe 2nd would be my top result. How things have changed.
My form leading in to the race had been great. I handled the training better than most other build-ups I had done over shorter distances and my body was responding well and recovering better. By the time I hit taper time I was basically ready to race and my taper was just a bonus.
When the gun went off and I headed out in to the lake I was happy to find we were swimming smack bang in to some pretty good little rollers. I felt the best I have felt in the water in a long time and felt better and better as the swim went on. It was a good feeling to get out of the water and know that I’d exerted about as little as I could have hoped and was shocked when I heard that I had 3.40 to Rhodesy and 6.40 to Jamie, Macca and Leon.
The time gap gave me confidence to get straight in to my work, but at the same time I was telling myself that I would get caught eventually and that my pace was my pace and there was nothing I could do about the others.
I extended my lead a little in the first out and back section, which surprised me and got me thinking that I’d probably gone too hard. Never the less I didn’t ease off and kept pushing. I was never strained aerobically and I figured that was a reasonably good sign that I wasn’t over working.
Once I hit the next turn around point and got a glimpse of the others riding together, I lost a bit of heart for a moment, but got it back nice and quickly when I got a time gap from my mates out on course and I was holding at around 7 minutes. By the next time gap, about 25km later (100km mark) and in to the headwind I had extended it out to almost 8.30, but it was right at this time that I went through a bad patch and so decided to eased off a bit. At the 130-140km mark I still had 7.20, but my back had been giving me grief for about 10km by this stage and continued to do so for the remainder of the bike. For the last 40 odd Km’s I was barely on my bars and barely on my seat.
By the end of the ride I had 1min to 1.30 on Jamie and Rhodesy and felt that I had given away a pretty cheap 3-4 minutes, but there was nothing I could do about it. It may have cost me that time on the ride, but may have also saved me more time on the run. Ultimately I was just surprised that I got off the bike still in the lead!
My transition was a bit of a mess and I was glad we had the change tent. I could barely put on my shoes on with my back in the state it was and I am sure it was quite a scene.
I set off on the run and my legs felt better than I expected. I needed a toilet stop pretty much straight away so took the first opportunity at the 2km mark. (By popular demand – about 2 people – I have added to the toilet story). I really needed to clean out all systems, but my back was such a mess that if I’d sat down I’d still be in there. A real pain was that I popped my buttons on my race belt and they fell to the floor. It was quite demoralising bending over with my face in the hole while having back spasms and trying to pick them up! Jamie and Rhodesy passed me during my excursion, but were only about 100m in front of me when I stumbled out of there.
I ran up to Jamie probably a bit overly keen and decided that I’d trust his pace and his experience for a while.
I was feeling really good and was happy just to sit and wait. At about 45 minutes in to the marathon we started getting time gaps to Macca and he was closing quickly. I decided that if I wanted to win then I had to go now or never. I was amazed at just how good I did feel when I decided to go and kept that tempo up until the turn around when I saw Jamie again and Macca for the first time. He seemed close at 3.30 and once again I thought it was all over and it was only a matter of time before he caught me.
I managed to pull my head in and kept my tempo going until the 25km mark. It was here that reality started to set in; I was still somehow out front, I was putting time back in to Macca, gaining on Jamie, I could potentially win, I still had 17km to go and I was already very close to being completely spent! There were a lot of emotions flowing around!
I took in some gels, slowed down and made more of an effort to relax.
The rest of the run was just one foot in front of the other. My quads were wrecked from the constant pounding and around the 35km mark I started to feel some cramps come on. I made more of an effort to get down fluids and slowed down to make sure of it. By the 4km to go sign I had a 4.30 lead on Jamie and started walking aid stations to make sure I made the finish line. I cramped a couple of times and almost took out a bike during an emergency stop. I got to that 1km to go sign and still wasn’t even relieved. I took a look over my shoulder almost expecting to see Jamie or Macca charging down the street. It wasn’t until I got to the red carpet that I managed to relax a bit and for the last time was surprised to know that I was still out in front and it would actually be me breaking the tape.
To win in what is my second home in New Zealand, in front of so many family and friends, and on a course that is both stunning and brutal is going to be hard to beat.
My goal now is to go out and race as hard as I did at Challenge Wanaka, regardless of my position and regardless of the course, and if I do so I hope I can keep doing this for a little while longer!
Thanks to the boys out there who made it so tough – Jamie Whyte, Chris ‘Macca’ McCormack, Keegan Williams, Bryan ‘Rhodesy’ Rhodes, Carl Read, Axel Reiser, Leon ‘Griffo’ Griffin, and Rob Creasy.
A big congrats to the Girls too – Gina Crawford, Candice Hammond and Jo Lawn.
Once again a huge thank you to all my supporters out there on course who were nothing short of exceptional and to all those at home watching on their screens.
Of course thanks to the Challenge Family and Wanaka + all their volunteers for putting on an amazing event.
Will update soon with my season plans.
A big cheers!
Christchurch Elite Race 2012
Good to get a little hit out and get the body racing again back home in Christchurch. Body felt good and it was nice to have some speed there even though I hadn't done an ounce of it in training for a long time! Congrats to Mike for taking it out with a lethal sprint. I really had no chance and was kidding my self when I thought I did. 6 Weeks to Wanaka and looking forward to making it all come together.
Full US 2012 season update
So it is definitely time for an update after continually putting them off in the hope I could find some form and get some results.
My first few weeks over here started reasonably well in Boulder, Colorado. I arrived, had an easy 5 days and then got stuck in to a lot of training.
My first race was Escape from Alcatraz and had planned on using it as a bit of a training race before heading to Canada two weeks later for Ironman 70.3 Mont Tremblant.
Half Ironman distance races were going to be my main focus of the season, as well as the Des Moines 5150 final (the big money race).
I got out of bed the day before Alcatraz to head to the airport and instantly new something wasn’t right.
I went straight to the toilet and it all started from there. The last thing I wanted to do was sit in a shuttle for 90 minutes and then get on a plane for 2 or so hours, but I also knew that I had to somehow get to San Francisco, as I had my university exams to sit there the week following.
Safe to say it was the worst flight of my life and I spent it all in the toilet – I’ll spare you the details.
I spent the night twisting and turning and the only racing I was doing was to and from the bathroom.
I then spent the next week doing absolutely nothing, eating very little, and somehow managed to complete 4 exams.
This is where I went wrong. I then decided that because I had already booked all my travel to Canada I would go and try and race.
I also rolled my ankle badly on my 2nd run before the race, which meant I went in to the race on almost no training and I felt every bit the lack of strength (and fitness) and dug myself deeper in to the pit.
I finished 7th, ok I guess – but really was a race I could have won and that was my intention.
I arrived back in Boulder and continued to make mistakes. I simply wanted to find the form that I had before I left home and went straight back in to training.
My next race was Boulder 5150, only two weeks after Canada. I should have missed this race, but I needed the points to qualify for Des Moines and so struggled through another tough race.
I found out the week after Boulder 5150 that I had qualified for Des Moines and so was able to settle down for a few weeks and miss my next 2 races to try and get some strength back in the body.
Next on the list were Boulder 70.3 followed by the Santa Cruz International – separated by a trip to El Salvador to renew my visa.
My coach and I decided that Boulder 70.3 would be a good strength tester and that not ‘over exerting’ myself would be a safe option, with Des Moines a month away and a week full of travel and racing to come not over doing it was key.
Boulder 70.3 went reasonably well and spent most my time on the front of our big bike group. I missed a couple of opportunities to get up the road with 2 small breakaways, as I just didn’t have the freshness of the guys sitting behind me doing nothing. Anyway, I rode well and ran 1 lap of the run, which also felt good.
My body felt in much better shape and only doing half the run meant that I didn’t have the stiffness and soreness that you get from running a full half-marathon.
Two days later I was off to El Salvador. An interesting couple of days and my mission was accomplished when I was granted my new visa on the way back in to the US.
I raced the Santa Cruz international that weekend and finally felt like I had some form. I raced a sprint race on Saturday for 2nd and then the International on Sunday for 3rd.
I lacked a lot of overall speed and actually raced just as fast when the distance was doubled on the same course from Saturday to Sunday. I really felt the Boulder ‘Diesel’ affect, but was happy just to have been able to compete decently again.
I had decided that Boulder wasn’t working so well for me – the altitude combined with the relentless heat (30+) everyday was taking its toll on my training consistency and so I shut up shop there and moved out to Orange County, just south of LA. I managed to get rid of the altitude, but ran smack bang in to a heat wave that was probably even hotter than Boulder.
Anyway, straight back in to training it was after a big 10 days of racing and travelling and once again started digging that hole. I trained harder than I had ever trained in the 3 weeks after Santa Cruz and before Des Moines as I really wanted to get a great result at one of my target races and of course refill the bank account a bit.
This training spell was miserable, but I told myself I’d come through the other side with a good taper better than ever... I didn’t.
Des Moines was my worst race I think I have ever had and on any other day I would have called it quits within the first 1km of the bike. However, just finishing (last - 30th) was $3000 and so battled my way through the most embarrassing race of my life. I had to walk parts of the run, which in an Olympic Distance race is not so good.
From Des Moines I headed to Canada for another 70.3 in Muskoka, but I had the week off training instead and missed that race.
Its always a worry when you have a week off training and find that you feel worse when you get going again. This is how I felt after my small break and a recurring trend throughout my season.
The next race was down in San Diego in the reinvention of the Formula one style racing – 300m swim, 6km bike, 2.5km run x2.
I was lucky enough to have Giant Bikes send me down a road bike to use on the 10 lap 600m circuit, which was rather tight, but good fun. I think getting off of my TT bike and riding a road bike for the first time in 5 or so months was what gave me a little fresher legs to break away and have a lead off the first bike, but the running legs were once again missing and overall the race ended as most of the others had with a disappointing result.
I got talked in to starting the Half Ironman the next day. This was the race Lance Armstrong also raced and won, quite impressively...
I just did the swim and some of the bike and I guess I can say that I raced LA in his last ever race.
After the weekend of racing in San Diego I realised that things weren’t getting any better and I should probably stop banging my head against a brick wall.
I had already booked my trip to Dallas for the final of the Lifetime series and so headed there with no expectations and the chance to see Dallas on my mind.
I had a good swim and led that out, but slowly faded again to finish 11th.
I have just had two weeks off and will be focusing on finally finishing off my degree over the next few weeks before heading home mid November.
It will be interesting to get that extra weight off my shoulders, which at times has been a healthy distraction, but also at times a burden.
So, it has been another season with a steep learning curve and to be honest I am sick of learning.
The support I receive from you all is worth a lot more than the results I have achieved this US season. I definitely do not feel worthy of it at present.
However I am really excited (and scared) to say that today is my first day of training in my build up to Challenge Wanaka, my debut Iron distance race.
Over the years of learning in this sport I have come to realise that I have a limited amount of speed, but a much greater ability to sustain that limited speed.
I have also learnt that I need longer and more stable build-ups to big races and no where is better than at home in Christchurch.
Challenge Wanaka is a tough course, but I know the race, know the course and know the conditions and I am really looking forward to crossing that finish line on January 19th and standing on the podium.
To my sponsors, I can not thank you all enough and I hope you will continue to support me through to Wanaka.
To everyone else, thank you for your continued support and look forward to catching up sometime soon.
Until next time
A lack of updates update!
Sorry all for the lack of anything new on my site. It has been a tough couple of months after first getting sick the day before the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon, which included the worst flight I have ever had and hopefully will ever have. Spent the flight in the tiolet with stuff coming out both ends... not pleasent. After that I was out for a full week, being nothing but useless and struggling to walk anywhere. So since then it has been a slow progression back up to what I hope is some good form leading in to the Des Moines 5150 championships this weekend. I will endevour to write all my race updates over the next week and hopefully also have a good report to write from Des Moines.
Speak to you all soon!
After a long trip and many flights --> Christchurch to Melbourne, Melbourne to Sydney, Sydney to San Francisco, San Francisco to Baltimore, I was in Columbia. Got to bed about 1 am Friday morning, 5 hours sleep and a quick swim to try and get in to the time zone. Safe to say the body was all over the show with 14 hours sleep the next night and then no sleep the night before the race. However I didn't feel to bad and was just hoping the body would respond. The course was a challenging one with the bike not have a meter of flat and the run including many hills. I swam hard to try and get the body going early and had to keep pushing to hold off Jimmy Seear and Cam Dye, eventual winner. Exited the water first, got on the bike and knew straight away that the legs weren't really there. I watched people ride away from me left, right and centre and had to deal with that the entire ride basically. Got off in 11th position and couldn't do much to change that.
Pretty disapointing after building up so well for Busso and then perhaps being a bit keen on racing straight after such a trip. Anyway lesson learnt.
Off to Boulder now for a few weeks to my new base for the season before heading to San Francisco for Escape from Alcatraz and then down to Santa Cruz for a couple of weeks before racing in Mont Tremblant 70.3, Canada.
So I flew off to Western Australia for Busso 70.3 after 5 weeks of the best and biggest training of my life and my final hitout before I head to the USA in a couple of weeks.
Busselton is 2-3 hours south of Perth and a pretty easy drive. Prior to the race I was feeling great in all 3 disciplines and really looking forward to racing the quality field that had assembled. I think Busso was a sign of things to come in 70.3's with a high quality field turning up for only a bottom ranked points and $$$ distribution with the sport growing so fast, but the fact that the event is run 2nd to none could also be a little factor in drawing so many pro's back each year. It really is an outstanding event all round and it would be nice if many other races learnt a lesson or two from Busso.
Anyway, briefing was an interesting affair with the officials not messing around with their explanation of why the swim course was changed... "high shark activity."
Race morning came around and although sharks were on everyones mind to varying degrees it wasn't something that was going to stop us from doing our jobs.
I felt good in the swim and the roughness played in to my hands a bit and came out first having swam relatively comfortably. I had Graham O'grady close behind and eventual winner James Hodge there also. I felt great getting on the bike and picked a gear and a pace I thought would be good enough to maintain or build a lead. However, James had other ideas and came past me rather quickly. I had been told of his cycling abilities and decided to ride with him for a bit, before realising that he was pushing super hard and could potentially blow up, me included. I dropped back a gear and rode my own pace, hitting the first turn at 22.5km about 20seconds behind him. I then had about a 30second lead over Graham, Luke Bell and Luke Mckenzie. I decided that working with them was a better option than myself so sat up and let them catcht me about the 30km mark. 5km later and my suspicions, which I had had for 10km or so, were true and my tubular went flat. I stopped and made use of my pitstop for the first time ever, lost about 4minutes on the leaders, and got going again eventually. I rode my ass off for 15km trying to chase my way back up to a decent position, but around the 50km mark the same tubular went flat again and with no technical support out on the roads it was my day over. Completely gutted. Was feeling awesome and had worked so hard for a good result there.
I then walked 5km home and managed to get myself some nice blisters as a take home souvenir.
Chin up and on to the next race in 2 weeks at the Columbia 5150 (near Baltimore, USA) where I'll be laying everything on the line from the word go.
I fly straight from NZ to the East Coast of the USA, so that should be an interesting mix to get right, but I am sure I can manage it.
After that I will be heading to my base for the season in Boulder, living and training with Clayton Fettell and Joey Lampe. Will be fun I am sure.
Catch ya soon
It’s been a long two weeks here in Singapore building up for the 70.3 – Its hard on the mind getting out there everyday and feeling lethargic and generally bad all round in this heat and humidity, but in saying that, when i tested the body over these weeks it always responded well and therefore knew I was in good shape.
Was very happy to get to race morning and after running around trying to find a toilet, I found myself nicely warmed up and ready to go!
Swim started well and I went straight to the front, swimming a pace that I was pretty comfortable with, but one I also knew would stretch a few guys out.
I took a look after lap one and saw that we had a group of 4 and a decent gap already. I lead out of the water and figured we’d have between a 1.30 and 2min lead – I was later told this was 2.40, which is a good solid lead I guess!
On the Bike Josh Amberger and Christian Kemp kept things rolling on the first of 3 laps – I was happy to follow and see where the legs were at. The legs were there and that’s always a good feeling in any race! We went through the 40km mark in bang on 55minutes, so we we’re moving pretty good and had opened up our total lead to 6minutes by the end of lap one (so I was told after). After lap one I started to get in the mix at the front and the 3 of us kept things ticking over nicely, with Dennis Vasiliev there also, but a bit ‘fresher’ in the non-drafting scene, so perhaps working a little harder than the rest of us as we didn’t see him at the front. Unfortunately I dropped my gel bottle, so missed taking in 5 gels, that in hindsight, would have been a magical thing come the 2nd lap of 3 on the run!
I lead the last 5 or so km’s in to transition 2 and the legs were feeling good. My GIANT Trinity Advanced was seriously insane and without my new sponsorship with GIANT I don’t think I would have been able to sustain the pace we were riding, let alone finish on the podium.
A little hick-up in T2 where I was sent on a wild-goose chase for my socks as they seemed to have been knocked out of my shoes some how and at distances and angles the mind struggles to comprehend. Never the less it only cost me 20-30 seconds and 21km in Singapore is a long way to run.
Josh took off like he was in an ITU race with Christian with him. Dennis was a bit more conservative and I caught him first, then Christian and then dropped Dennis. Josh looked good and I pretty much decided that 2nd place could be my 1st place today. I tried to get settled and was feeling ‘OK’ and also took in 3 gels early in the run to make up for those I lost on the bike.
When I hit lap 2 I really hit the wall, sorry for the lack of imagination here, but that was what happened. Every single stride told me to stop and fall over, but somehow I managed to keep ‘moving.’ I definitely would NOT describe what I was doing at this point as ‘running.’ I took in a few more calories via some energy tablets and they seemed to pick me up by the time I started lap 3. I started running a little better at this stage and it wasn’t until 2km to go that the body attempted meltdown number 2...0 – Ben Pulham a kiwi living in Singapore and ex-ITU racer gave me a solid talking to, as 4th was closing fast. I mustered probably more than I thought I had and basically walked across the line in 3rd.
Just quickly, it is a very cool course. Good 2 lap swim with a big and small lap, 3 lap bike with plenty of corners, but some nice straights too and plenty to keep you entertained, including A380’s taking off next to you, and the run isn’t too bad either being a 3 lap course, but the heat and humidity can take a hike!
Very happy to come away with my first podium in my second attempt at the 70.3 distance and especially in conditions that I would not generally say suit someone coming from good old Christchurch, NZ, weather. It was hot, 32d, and Humid, 100% humidity, and I felt every bit of it. Still everyone has to deal with that and congratulations to Josh for the win, who was super strong and Dennis for 2nd.
Next race on the calendar will probably be in Scandinavia. Looking forward to my first trip there... ;)
A big thank you to everyone for the massive support out there on the course, via email, text and social media & not forgetting my two long term loyal sponsors 2XU and Brooks - Legends!
A special thanks to Team Bike Labz for getting me over here to compete and to Dirk and Ben for having me crash at their house’s and eat all their food for longer than they probably would normally entertain!
Until next time
Miami 70.3 - Half Ironman Debut
I arrived in Miami Monday before the race, straight from Galveston. Miami isn't the ideal place to train, but this wasn't a bad thing as it forced a very light taper. A massive thanks to Pat Mac for hosting me and to Bevan for sorting it out. It was great having a guide to get things done and one of the big benefits of a home stay. Come Thursday though I was in to the hotel and in race mode. My mate from Germany, Horst Reichel, arrived Friday and gave me a few pointers on what to expect and how to get the most out of racing longer distance, mainly nutrition!
Race morning arrived and we were up at 4.00am. Although I hate getting out of bed that early, I definitely prefer the early start. It had decided to rain cats and dogs uncharacteristically for Miami, which threw a bit of a curve ball at everyone. We rode down to the race and arrived at 5am and were informed that it would be a wetsuit swim. I double checked this as we were in Miami and although it was raining it was still warm and the water even warmer. I was assured that it WAS a wetsuit swim by the race announcer. The reason I double checked this was because I didn't bring my wetsuit down to the race site refusing to believe it could be a wetsuit swim in MIAMI - Rookie error. A $40 taxi later and I had my wetsuit only to be approached by the announcer who then apologised for making me 'walk' back to the hotel to get my wetsuit, as he had made a mistake and it was a NON wetsuit swim. I informed him that in fact I hadn't walked, I had taxied and he owed me $40! Anyway I put that behind me pretty quickly and was happy that it was infact non-wetsuit, as I believe that every (I could swear a lot here) race should be non-wetsuit when the water is 24d and the air even warmer!
I didnt feel as good swimming as in Galveston, but opened up a lead early on and cruised through the swim exiting with about a 30second lead. This was cut to about 15 by the time I found my bike (the problems of burrowing a bike!) and got on the road. The group behind me consisted of Matt Reed, Michael Raelert, and numerous others. To my surprise I rode away from them and seemed to have opened up a decent gap by 15-20km. I was even more surprised because I was riding within myself and felt great. However, I was caught at 35km by the strongest riders who were 1.30 behind out of the swim. Bertrand a Frenchmen, Horst and Rich Allen from GBR. Rich carried on riding through and I jumped in behind for a bit before realising the others were right behind me and I then dropped back to the 'group'. Rich kept charging and lead off the bike. It wasn't until Sebastian Kienle came past about 25miles that the pace heated up with Raelert deciding to chase a bit and Matty Reed also. At the turn around we probably had up to 15 guys, but by the time we hit half way back it was at 10 and at about KM 70 someone in front of me lost a wheel and the group split. I thought it would close as it usually did and when I realised it wouldn't it was too late for me to close it. That little error probably cost me 1minute and is the only thing that in hindsite I would have changed about the race.
On to the run I was 3.30 down on Allen and Kiele. I had some good jelly legs getting off the bike, but overall the legs felt pretty decent and I ran the first lap well and was holding 8th spot and only lost a couple of minutess at the most to the lead guys. As I started to head out on lap two though a bad patch was looming and I hit a big ass wall! I slowed right up and I started thinking about the fact that I had to run another whole lap of the same. The lowest point was definitely being passed by Horst and knowing that I could not beat him and once again I would finished 1 spot outside the money.... Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.
Anyway I got to the finish line and was super stoked to get under the 4hour mark in 3.57.00 in my first half. A time that would have me on the podium in a lot of other 70.3's this year.
I think the best part of the race for me was the fact that I rode well, 2.08 and 42kmph. Long distance racing has a massive bike focus and if you can not ride your bike, Time Trial style, then you have no show in this style of the sport. Definitely a good confidence booster for the future and I am looking forward to the next one... kind of!
Thanks for all the support this season. I am really looking forward to racing Auckland ITU World Cup on 20th November. Going to be awesome racing at home and on a wickedly tough course.
So I hit Galveston after 2.5 of the biggest training weeks I've ever completed. I swam 5 x 1hour swims per week, rode 15-17hours and ran 8-10. Yes in 1 week I managed almost 10hours of running! It was safe to say that the body was fit, but perhaps a little tired also. I was confident heading in that I would have a good day though and this confidence increased when I felt awesome in the swim and lead out of the water. I guess the reduced swimming load an a taper affect on my swimming, but the increased biking and running had the opposite affect. I rode ok, coming off in the top 6, but down on where I would have liked to be. My run also felt terrible and I struggled through, once again finished 1 outside the money as I did in New York. 7th place.
Bigger things to come and I hoping for some good legs after a proper taper this week.
Buffalo ITU Pan-American Cup
Buffalo was an interesting place. A lot of the scenery reminded me of a run down soviet city with empty factories in the background portraying a once industrial past. The city has lost over half is population in the last 30 years, down from over half a million people to less than 250,000.
The race was a bit of a let down as well. The swim was brutal and I was maxed out the whole first lap, which isn't normal. I even considered pulling the pin after 1 lap I was so stuffed! Luckily everyone else was obviously feeling the same and the pace slowed right down. I exited the water in about 10th place, a bit behind the leaders and still struggling to get on top of my breathing. The run to T1 and getting on to the bike was all at maximum and to make it worse the guys who were first out of the water were drilling it on the bike as well. I rode my ass off for about 3km, only about 10-15m off the back of the break-away and slowly closed the gap. By the time I got there, feet still on top of my shoes, the group started to work together and people started to pull big turns. Hunter Kemper decided to pull one of these as I was trying to get my feet in my shoes and I lost the last wheel of the group and couldn't get back on, falling back to the main chase group and sitting there for the rest of the ride. Getting on to the run my motivation was about Zero. I knew I had to be in the break-away for a good result and I wasn't. I also knew I had burned a lot of candles at the start of the swim and bike and my running legs felt ok, just no what I had wanted to have a good run and finished top 15. Another DNF for me in an ITU race and perhaps the last straw in deciding to make the change from the ITU drafting scene to the Non-drafting and longer distance scene.
I have been getting pretty sick of working so hard for nothing in ITU. The racing doesn't give me much of a chance to use my swim/bike strength and its time I started doing races that allow me to use that.
Next up is Galveston 5150, before I have a crack at my first Half-Ironman, what I and my coach think is my most suited format, in the Miami 70.3.
Really looking forward to it. Time for 2 of the biggest training weeks of my life before resting up for my debut.
Pacific Grove, USA Elite Series
Pacifc Grove is just down the coast from Santa Cruz. Home of Pebble Beach golf club to name but one of the many. It is also home to a truck load of kelp, or I should really say truck loadS.
I felt great in the swim and managed to clear out with Tommy Zafares early on, only to hit the kelp at about 200m and literally stop in our tracks. It was then a scramble over the kelp and whoever was in the front ended up clearing the way for those behind, giving them a chance to catch back up. A 2 lap swim and 300-400m of Kelp climbing per lap saw a bigger group than expected come out of the water together. 7 of us formed together and we worked well on the bike building a 2 minute lead. I had trained quite hard in to this race as I needed to find some form for the later races. We got off the bike and the running legs weren't there at all, a bit of an annoying trend this season.
I finished 6th, a bit disappointing again. Time to stop being disappointed i think!
Next up is Buffalo ITU race. Some big training to come before hand.
Kelowna ITU Pan-American cup
So the only thing i ended up getting from Kelowna was my ass kicked! I was hoping for a top 5 finish, some $$ and some ITU points to help my case for racing in the Auckland World Cup in November.
Kelowna is a beautiful place and it reminded me of Wanaka, except much bigger. The swim was non-wetsuit, so the plan was to swim hard, try and force a break-away and then hold on in the run. I lead the swim and 7 of us formed in the break-away i was looking for. We had 1min 20 lead after 2 laps of 6 and I thought we this is gonna be easy! Unforntunately, as is the case in most ITU races, a few guys in the group decided to sit on the back and instead of working steadily together we worked terribly together. We held our 1.20 lead and on the last hill with half a lap to go we were informed that we still had 1.20. I got through T2 at the front, only to see the chase group that was supposedly 1.20 behind us coming in to T2 only .20 behind us, to make things worse my legs felt as though they'd been hit by a freight train and I probably looked like I'd been knee-capped the way I was running. I tried to settle in to a rythem and relax a bit, but as I ran slower and slower I only felt worse and worse. I pulled the pin on the run after only 2.5km's, knowing pretty much straight away that it wasn't going to be my day on the run.
Super disappointed after setting it all up how I had planned, but there's not much I could have done about it.
I'm having 4 days off now, as the coach thinks (and me!) that the combination of smashing myself everyday in training with Bevan and Paul, plus 4 races in 3 weekends has dug me in to a deep, dark hole. And to be honest, that is exactly how I feel!
Next up is Pacific Grove, USA Elite series race on the 10th September. Hoping I have at least climbed a few steps out of my hole!
Santa Cruz International
First up in my 'home town' was the sprint distance race on Saturday. Just 6 days after NY 5150 I had struggled all week to recover and I knew that I would have to push my limits again if I wanted to beat Tommy Zaferes (the real local). The swim was hard, the run to transition was hard and the bike was hard. Tommy put a little gap on me in the swim, then a little more on me running to transition, which is about 500m and then more time in to me on the bike. I ran hard for the first 2.5km and realised that I had only caught about 10seconds of 30. I knew I couldnt catch him and with the Olympic distance the next day I decided to shut it down and cruise to the finish.
Sunday saw the real Santa Cruz international take place. I felt like I had blown a few cobwebs out the day before and so was ready to take Tommy down, well at least have a better crack at it than the day before. We swam together and ran to transition together, got on the bike together and rode the first 2 laps (of 4) on the bike together. Yes it was non-drafting and at no time did we draft - more to come on this. Anyway I decided that just marking each other was no way to race and attacked him on the 3rd lap. I built a lead up of around 200m by the end of lap 3 and knew that 20seconds would be a good lead off the bike. I was pushing hard and thought that there is no way they'll catch me (Brian Lavell had joined Tommy by this stage). I hit the turn around and they were right behind me. I couldn't believe it, they must have put the after burners on for the 2-3km that I didn't look behind me because I was pushing hard and feeling good. So we all ended up getting off the bike together and on to the run it was once again me and Tommy running side by side. We each had little cracks at each other on the way out. I was feeling pretty average and the run was quite demoralising as it was 5km out and back. I felt my calf start to tweek at about the 4km mark and had to adjust my technique a bit to look after it. I decided I would put a surge in straight after the turn around. The moment came and I tried to surge, but it was pretty pathetic! Tommy sensed that things were deteriating for me and he then started to attack me. He surged between 5-6 times in the next couple of KM's and on one of them my calf popped and so did my head! I had to slow right down and run with a bit of a limp. Even if my calf didn't pop I don't think I could have beaten Tommy anyway as he was in his home town and racing awesome. So I ended up 2nd to Tommy.
It wasn't until we went to get our prize money that we were told we each had a 2minute penalty for ridiculous reasons. The head official agreed that we never drafted and never gained an advantage from our penalties, but rules are rules and so he wouldn't over turn them. Brian ended up with the win, Tommy 2nd and me 3rd.
It was interesting racing two days in a row. Now I just need to recover before Kelowna ITU next weekend.
New York 5150
Its a year of firsts for me. Some of them a little more significant than others like the earthquakes for example. Going to NY for the first time wasn't quite as big a deal as what was happening back home, but I was looking forward to racing.
The time zone was going to be the biggest challenge with a 5.50am local start time, being 2.50am back in California and meaning I had to get up around 1 am CA time! To my surprise I didn't really notice it that much and i was just as grumpy as I'd usually be in the morning. The 600mg of caffeine i took may have been a factor in canceling out the time zone problem.
The swim was in the Hudson river, which actually flows pretty good and had a good chop on it race morning. Us better swimmers lost a good chunk of our advantage as we swam down stream and it only took 13minutes for 1500m! After leading out I was hoping for some good legs. It was a good length run to T1 and the legs weren't feeling too great, similar to how I had felt in the swim.
It was raining during the out and back ride. The ride runs along the river and then over the bridge to the Bronx (I think!) with pretty much no flat just rolling hills and after riding pretty much solo for the first 20-25km I was caught by a 'group' of about 6. This race is 'non-drafting' and features the new stagger rule, effectively meaning we ride in formation and probably end up getting more draft than the standard 7m straight line gap. I definitely felt the difference when caught. So I sat with the group for the rest of the ride and we picked up a couple more riders out front.
I got off with the group of about 10 at the end of the ride. My legs felt terrible, probably simply from not being use to the Time Trial riding. There were 4 guys up the road at different gaps.
I was hurting from the word go, but wanted a top 5 so started chasing that position. The run goes through central park and is much like the ride, constantly rolling with a few bigger hills. At about 2.5km I was ready to throw in the towel and was in a world of hurt. I'd managed to almost catch 2 guys in front of me and when I did at about the 5km mark the guy told me I was in 6th and I knew I couldn't catch 5th. I don't think I've ever been in more pain with only half the run done, but I kept putting 1 leg in front of the other and held on for 6th. Gutted I couldn't get that top 5 and some $$, but in a good quality field, feeling like average pretty much the whole race and in my first proper crack at the USA non-drafting scene i have to be a little happy. I'm sure more focus on it would help my case, as there's no way in hell I want to hurt like that every time I race.
Next up is the Santa Cruz International. Looking forward to racing in my current home town.
Until then, CYA.
Edmonton ITU World Cup
My first trip to Canada saw us landing with with rain and we continued to see it up until a couple of hours prior to race start. I was a bit gutted that the rain meant a wetsuit swim, but after hitting out some solid swimming with Bevan in Santa Cruz I knew it would be all good. I had an ok start, but because of my low ranking I didn't have the best position and ended up hitting the first buoys in about 20th. I managed to swim in to the top 5 after 2 laps and exited T1 close to the front. The first lap of the bike was tough, hitting the hill only about 1km in to it. No real fireworks though and a group of about 50 of us came together. There was the odd attempt of a break away and I tried to string things out a bit before the hill on a couple of laps as me and Bevan had discussed and if us was feeling good he would attack over top and I'd have to hang on for dear life as he pulled us away. Anyway nothing came of it as his cycling legs weren't feeling as good as his running legs obviously! We hit T2 all still together and I had managed to get to the front as we jumped of our bikes. I literally took 1-2 steps at 25kmph before a bike cleaned me out from behind and I hit the deck. Luckily it carpeted, but still got a couple of good bumps and a bit of carpet burn. That threw me off a bit and I lost time and ended up going out of T2 in last position and took a while to get going. I managed to pull a few guys in and ended up 41st. In such tight racing the face plant in T2 could have cost me 6-7places and those places would have been the extra ITU world ranking points that I really needed. O well .... Happens! Heading back to Santa Cruz now for a few more weeks of training before heading off the London a week a head of Bevan for the London triathlon and then 5 busy weeks of racing in Europe. Bev went good today and looking forward to seeing him smash it out in London WCS in 1 months time. Over and out.
Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
Well what can i say, they know how to make races tough here in the USA, but this one was different and pretty special. Really enjoyed the race today even if I didnt have the best of legs. Managed 14th place, but i felt like i was racing at 90% most of the time. Its been a tough few weeks of training and a few days easy didnt really cut it in terms of freshening up wise. My big focus of the USA season prior to London though is to push my limits in training with Bevan and try to push him if i can. I have Edmonton world cup coming up and that is also a big focus of mine and am looking forward to a good taper for that and an outstanding performance.
Seoul ITU Asian Cup
Had a little bit of everything today, but not enough of anything! Started well and went backwards in the swim only to come out at the back of the front group. Made my way to the front on the technical bike only to get there and really start to suffer. I then started going backwards again until i found myself at the back and the legs starting to completely give way. I guess it was a case of too much before with the new level of training in Santa Cruz and all the travel to get to Seoul. Disapointing after some good form a couple of weeks back. Time now for a few big weeks with Bevan and Paul Mathews and will launch from there! Over and out
Wild Flower Olympic distance, USA
Wild flower is one of the oldest and most prestigous races in the USA. I made a last minute decision to cruise down with Clayton Fettell from Aussie, another training partner of Bevans, who was racing the BIG race, being the Half Ironman. There was no way in hell i was racing that, but the olympic distance sounded like a good idea for a bit of a 'strength' session. This race is not only prestigous because of its age, but also because of the course, perhaps even the main reason why! A very challenging race, with a nothing but hills ride and the same on the run. I had been feeling pretty good all week and even though i was training through the race i had some good legs on race day and managed to control the race and still take the win. I say 'control' but really the course was so tough that i think if i hadn't controled it i may not have finished! So my first race in the USA mainland ever was a win and a good feeling and some good fun watching Clayton come home in 2nd, an awesome result and his first big break through. Look out for more to come i am sure and i hope this race sets me off on the right foot!
2010 / 2011 NZ summer
Well after perhaps my most disapointing European season to date I arrived home in early October very ready to get rolling again and kick the new season off to a good start. However, perhaps i was a little to eager and every day and every session felt terrible for almost 3 months of training, struggling through every day and telling my self that things would come right soon. After racing the Tour De Vineyards for the 2nd time with some of NZ's best cyclists I realised that I was still behind where I had been a year earlier. So the decision was made to head to Snow Farm with Laurent and Andrea and get some good solid, uninterupted training in. That we did and I felt better and better as the camp went on. The races to that stage had all been a bit of a joke and it was obvious my form was really struggling. My whole season goal had been to build up slowly and make sure that at season end I was ready to head away and have a good and big USA/European season. I won the Singapore Aquathon Champs in February, not that big a deal by any means, but still nice to win and make some much needed $! Next was nationals, but not to much emphasis had been placed on it from myself or my coach, with our focus on Mooloolaba World Cup and kicking on after that. Mooloolaba came and went with a disapointing result. I set myself up perfectly in the swim at the front, only to swim the wrong way. I then had to play catch up from almost last and managed to finally get to the front group after a few laps on the bike. I didnt hang around long though and attacked off the front with a few other guys, building a 1min 20 lead off the bike. My legs were there, but the stomach cramps that plagued me too often were the worst they have ever been, meaning a shocking run and a just as bad result. Its now time to settle down and build up training again until i head to Santa Cruz to train with Bevan Docherty in his build up to London Olympic Qaulifiers and beyound and to start my quest for an outstanding USA/European season.
Training camp - Boulder, Colorado, USA
What can I say, Boulder is awesome and a real surprise to be honest. Enjoyed every moment of it. It was great to be in a place where I could walk in to a store and be able to understand everyone! Of course that was a pretty minor reason as to why I really enjoyed it though. The training was great with some very cool runs and rides and the weather played a huge part also with only 3 wet days in the 30 I was there and every one of those sunny days was approaching or over 30degrees. The swimming was also cool too in outdoor pools and a good squad. Training with the NZ squad was really beneficial also and good to measure myself against everyone. So leaving Boulder I am really fit and strong and looking forward to the races to come in Europe. Hopefully I can travel well with little issues as we arrive Wednesday in Germany and Race Sunday in Belgium. I will update after that.
German League race's one and two
After enjoying the extreme heat in the Philippines, I have since been wrapped up in almost everything I own here in Germany for the last few weeks. Most days have been sub 10 degrees, which isn't too bad, but throw in constant rain and wind and it makes it a little less comfortable!
So after battling the conditions for two weeks I was very happy to be in the team van and heading to the first team race of the season. Gladbeck is an individual race in the morning - 250m swim, 5.5km bike and a 2.5km run where you start in heats with one person per team per heat. The afternoon is a team sprint in time-trial fashion with teams setting off for the 550m swim, 22km bike and 5km run in the order that their combined times were in the morning. I was in heat number one and lead the swim, and was in a mini breakaway with two others until the final few hundred meters of the ride when we were then caught by the rest of the heat (12 in total). I had a solid run, but a slow transition was the difference between a top 5 in my heat and 7th. Our team result from the morning was not very good. We started 11th out of 12 teams and I really struggled to feel good after a tough hit-out in the morning. We ended up finishing last, which was a very disappointing team result.
The next weekend we were off to race #2 in Witten. This was another race like Gladbeck. A relay in the morning of 200m swim, 3.2km bike and 1600m run. I had a better race here than in Gladbeck, but started a little behind as i went second in the relay. I caught up to most of the guys and put us in a good position to finish strongly. The rest of the team raced well and we finished the relay in 7th. After a bit of jostling around, we ended up starting the night race in 8th, which is another team time trial type race for 300m, 6.4km and 3.2km. We had one team sit on us the whole way through the ride while we did all the work. They ended up out running us and we finished in 9th place. Better than last week, but still a bit of work to do.
Subic Bay ITU Asian Cup - Philippines
Subic Bay is by far the hottest place I have been to for a race or even just been to for that matter. My first two attempts are not great memories and its hard to call what I did for those attempts 'racing', more like surviving! It has been a few years since the last time i raced in the Philippines, but I knew going in to it that I was much stronger and fitter than my past attempts. Luckily the race starts at 6am, which many of you may not think is lucky, but when your fresh off the plane from NZ the time zone means it really only feels like 10am and on Philippines time the heat at 10am will already be hovering around 35d, with a heat index (what it actually feels like - wind and humidity taken in to account) of over 40d! So yes 6am is a 'lucky' start time. It was a different swim and bike course to the last couple of times, but the water temperature of 29d hadn't changed. I lead the swim and had 2 hungarians and a Japanese athelete right behind me as we started the ride. I never had the chance to go over the course as transition one and the first 20km's of the bike were a fair distance out of town and i didn't fancy riding out and checking it out the day before in the extreme heat. So I settled with a reasonable discription of what to expect for the first 20km as I was already familar with the last 20km. Starting at T1, the bike headed even further away from the Subic Bay township and in to the hills. There was one out and back section of 20km, then a 10km trip in to town, followed by a 10km loop to make it up to 40km. The first 7-8km was basically all up hill, with numerous climbs long and short and a few flat points, followed by about a 2km decent to the turn around where we then backtracked. I was definitely hurting on the way out up the climbs, with the Japanese competitor (Hirano) pushing the pace enough to drop the number 1 ranked athelete from hungary, who has 2 top 10 world cup finishes to his name. It was a good sight to see him go while the 3 of us who remained got working together to hold our lead at around the one minute mark going in to transition 2, which is located in the township. I didn't really feel like I pushed that hard on the bike and got off relatively fresh. I knew though that the heat can ruin your day no matter how good you feel if you go to hard early on. So I controlled the start of the run and Hirano pushed out to a 15-20second lead on the first lap of 4. I dropped the Hungarian athlete Rendes near the start of lap 2 and through laps 2 and 3 I held the gap to Hirano at around the 20 second mark.. Coming in to the last lap my plan was to pick it up and try and catch him. At the end of the 4th lap is an extra 600m loop to make the run up to 10km, so i effectively had 3km to catch up the 20seconds. After sticking to my plan and running as smart as I thought I could have, I then had a brain explosion and closed the 20second gap in about 1km. Just as i caught him my body really started to over heat and my head felt as though it was going to explode! I had no choice but to slow down and once again I watched Hirano run away from me, but this time there was nothing I could do and was basically out of realestate to try and catch him again. I ended up being able to cruise the last 1km to the finish and save the body a little bit for what is going to be a long and intense season. 2nd place is still my best result by far and a great way to start off the season. I am fit and strong and for me to be in this kind of shape so early in Europe is super positive. I am now in Germany and will be here for the next few weeks for 2 German races before I head to Boulder, Colorado to join the rest of the NZ guys. I will update again after the German races.
Thanks for reading