The pro field was bolstered with some big names, including coach and 2nd world ranked 70.3 athlete Tim Reed, 5 time World Champion Craig Alexander, multiple 70.3 winners in Tim Berkel and Clayton Fettell and other names capable of being extremely competitive.
The swim in Port Douglas was fairly choppy due to the stormy days leading into the race which would make it tough for the weaker swimmers. I started out well and removing any thoughts of being croc breakfast, I settled into third place. I was given a brand new Blue Seventy wetsuit the day before the race and not being able to test it out pre race produced some mild anxiety that was quickly removed as soon as we started swimming. The wetsuit felt great and I was happy to emerge from the murky drink in 3rd.
I wanted to try a similar tactic on the bike that I employed in Busselton, this time swapping out Terenzo Bozzone for Tim Reed to try and get a break at the beginning of the bike. We had discussed this pre-race and I was excited that the post swim scenario played out in similar fashion to our plan. I saw a few guys yo-yoing off the back after the swim so I went to the front as soon as I mounted my bike to string it out. I knew that Tim is tactically smart enough to not bring up the whole group of riders with him and I thought he had let me go to make the solo bridge up to me shortly after. After about 5 minutes a glanced back and couldn’t see anyone behind thanks to the weaving coast line roads. I kept the pace up, waiting for Tim to come. I started to get a little lonely and by the first u turn at 30km into he ride I got my first glance back at the chasers. Tim and Craig Alexander where about 45 seconds down with another pack of guys about a minute or so further back. I fully expected Tim and Craig to make the bridge across to me as the next 30km of the ride is quite undulating and I was starting to feel the pinch of the earlier effort creep into my legs. I wasn’t comfortable at all and was getting in and out of the saddle.
It wasn’t until 60km when we hit the flat highway that I started to feel good again, and still on my own out in front I locked myself down into the most aero position I could muster to squeeze as much time as I could out of the chasing athletes. Coming into T2 I got a wave of adrenaline and I trotted out onto the half marathon at perhaps a slightly too ambitious pace. After running through the crowds for the first few kilometers I was soon out on my own at a much more sustainable pace, left to my own thoughts which mainly revolved around pondering if the 2 minute gap to Craig and Tim would be enough for me to clench the win. 2 minutes is an uncomfortable time gap.
If you’re running well, it would be enough, but with the run speed of the guys chasing, 2 minutes can be eradicated very quickly if I was even slightly off my game. There are 3 u turns each lap, and I was mildly surprised to note that my lead was slightly increasing. I was still feeling controlled at half way and I got some encouraging words from training mates Tim Reed (who had dropped to 3rd behind Craig) and Clayton Fettell. The last 5km dragged on but I knew if I remained controlled I would win. I eventually found my way to the finish, ecstatic to take break the tape first.
I honestly never thought I would have lined up against guys like Tim Reed, Craig Alexander, Tim Berkel and Clayton Fettell (to name a few) and beat them like I did. Even being mentioned in the same sentence as these guys is something I am still getting used to.
I wanted to send a shout out to the guys from Bahrain Endurance who were in Cairns over the weekend. They made sure everything was taken care of leading into the race and to have that added stress removed made a huge impact on my weekend.
Thanks to all my sponsors, Reedy, training mates and to everyone for the support. I appreciate it all! I have just arrived in Boulder, Colorado where I will base myself for the next 4 weeks before racing Vineman 70.3. I am staying with a wonderful homestay couple here in Boulder, Pam and Warren Shuckies and I am looking forward to seeing what all the fuss is about over here!
Until next time,