After a 2nd place at Port Mac 70.3 a month earlier, and then following it up with another 2nd at the Nepean Triathlon seven days later, my confidence had gone through the roof. These results, along with new coaching direction from Tim Reed (building a program that is focused on quality sessions and sufficient recovery which seems to a good recipe), I was confident that in was in good form, but still had huge respect for the guys that I was toeing the line with.
With an absence of super fish swimmers I knew I would be one of the guys setting the pace in the swim. I got in clear water early to try and set a solid tempo but the seemingly straight forward canal swim was a lot harder to navigate than I anticipated. The weaving course coupled with my Ray Charles sighting skills provided an interesting challenge for me. We were given a lead paddler but he was paddling way too far ahead for him to take effect and it seemed like I was trying to follow a speck on the horizon. I took a wrong turn round one of the buoys (chopper) and found myself swimming into the guys trailing me. After copping a few swift backhands to face I righted myself and swam back up towards the front and came out in 3rd.
My pre race theory was that the race was going to be a pack swim due to the current assisted canals and then a group would form on the flat fast bike. This came to fruition as a group of 8 guys formed the lead pack with all the heavy hitters involved. The wind hit us straight away and out on the open highway there was nowhere to hide. Some big turns were put in by Terenzo Bozzone (NZL), Tim Berkel (AUS) and Jeremy Jurkiewicz (FRA).
Newly employed coach Tim Reed unfortunately suffered a mechanical early into the ride forcing him out of the race. Both the wind speed and temperature were rapidly rising through the second lap of the bike and the pace was starting to take its toll on everyone in group. My garmin was clocking speeds at 50km/h + on the return into town and the work put in on the bike rewarded us with a 2:03 bike split. The group was reduced to 5 by the time we entered T2 to start the run.
Terenzo showed some authority straight out of transition and none of us could go with the early pace. I was feeling pretty rattled after the ride and was a little unsure about the run. I faded back through to 5thby the time I hit the 6km mark with Bennett, Jurkiewicz and Berkel pulling ahead of me. I found some rhythm and Bennett, who was looking very dangerous at the beginning, was starting to suffer. I moved into 4th and kept the other two guys in sight.
I was feeling better as the run progressed and moved through to 3rd place, relegating the Frenchman into 4thby about 13km. I could see Berkel ahead but the gap between was not closing, so I made a big effort to bridge up to him, digging deeper into my reserves than I had originally planned. We duked it out together for a while until about 2kms to go where he put in a surge to break these weary legs. Terenzo crossed the line first, just under 2 minutes ahead of me but his Kiwi heritage meant the Aussie title passed to Berkel who showed some true grit to defend it from last year.
For me, I am thrilled with another podium spot. It’s been a great month for me and I hope to continue this form onto Canberra 70.3 in December and then the Asia Pacific Champs in Auckland in January. Despite getting almost mowed down by angry Mandurah locals on post race festivities I had a great time in WA and I want to thank my amazing team in Shotz, Scody, Hawkesbury Physio, 3D bike fit and Tim Reed. Also big thanks to my mum, dad and Kat for ongoing support.