It’s been a big week and I’m excited to be writing this race report for the 70.3 World Championships at Mooloolaba on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. It was a good day!

The Lead-Up
Over the last couple of years I’ve almost made the mistake of treating the 70.3 World Championships as a different event. Don’t get me wrong it’s a hard race – it’s my biggest race of the year – but this time around I wanted to treat it like every other race. I didn’t want to change up anything. Last year, leading into the 70.3 World’s I made the mistake of changing my training – doing a little bit more, a little bit more hard stuff and obviously it didn’t work out for me. So this year I sat down with my coach, Matt Dixon, and we really based the whole season around the 70.3 Worlds and putting together the best result for me.

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Conditions at Mooloolaba can be interesting – it’s actually a surf beach and in the days leading into the race it was quite lumpy, windy and a bit stormy. There wasn’t a huge wave on, but the ocean was choppy. Then we woke up on Sunday morning and it was almost like a lake. There wasn’t even a wave for us to catch leading into the shore. It was actually really nice, the water was clear- it was a beautiful day for the race.

Out of the water and onto the bike
I got off to a good start. Coming from a swim background the swim leg is always something that has come quite naturally to me. It’s nice to have that in the back of my head knowing that I don’t have to work as hard as some of the other guys. I came out of the water second, about 20 seconds behind Josh Amberger. I wasn’t really too concerned considering the pack of guys that were going to be coming out of the water. So I kind of kept a lid on the swim because I didn’t really expect there to be so many guys coming out of the swim so quickly. I was hoping for a pack of less than 10, but it turned out to be a pack of about 20 guys. I was hoping that Reedy was in a pack further back, but he ended up being up front with pretty much all the main players.

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When we got out onto the bike with such a big pack it turned into a pretty tactical ride, for me at least. There were a lot of guys jostling for position, trying to stay towards the front to prevent Sebastian Kienle or Andreas Drietz, the strong cyclists, from getting away up the road. The problem is that if they’re up the front and you’re sitting at 20th wheel, if a break happens in the middle of the pack it requires a lot of energy and a lot of work to then bridge around the pack. So for me it almost felt tactical – everybody wanted to stay within the first 5 riders, myself included.

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Fortunately it wasn’t too physically demanding – I felt really strong on the bike and I just tried to play it safe. The last few races I’ve over-biked and had not much left leading into the run. Matt, my coach, told me the one thing leading into this race was to be patient and back my run. In reality, I was getting a little nervous in that pack of 20 guys, because I think leaving it to a running race is a bit risky, especially when I consider the bike as my strength at the moment.

Bringing it home
It’s fascinating how you have these mental fights with yourself even as you’re racing. However, I’ve been running well in training so I just told myself to be patient and back myself on the run. That’s what I did and I ended up running really well. So it’s all positive for me. I felt awesome on the run. Unfortunately, Tim and Sebastian and those guys were on a slightly higher level than I was in the race, but I gave it everything and ran the best I’ve ever run in a race before, so I can’t ask for any more than that.

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After feeling like I’ve mis-fired at the last couple of 70.3 World Championships, it was great to produce a result that I’m really proud of. Sure, it was a 5th and I’ve won a number of 70.3 races before, but this result at the World Champs is definitely my highest achievement so far. I guess I’m proud to get to this level at the age of 26 and know that if I keep my head down I’ve got a bright future in front of me. Certainly this year it all seemed to work out – Matt and I got it right – and there are some lessons we can take into the next few years as far as how we structure the season to produce the best results.

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As always, I want to say thanks to my sponsors for believing in me and thanks to the people who love and support me. Triathlon’s an individual sport, but the reality is that performing at an elite level isn’t possible without a huge team of people working behind the scenes. They don’t get the accolades that I get, but they certainly deserve them!

Sam