First of all, lets get St George 70.3 off the table. I have not been this disappointed after a race since World Champs on 2015 in Austria. I felt like I was in great form, I had a good lead up into the race and I was ready to lay it out there. Unfortunately my legs had other plans. I really wanted to put together a great race in St George. It doubles as the North American Pro Champs, and the event always garners a lot of attention as it is one of the biggest 70.3 events outside of the World Championships.
I was able to swim really well and emerge from Sand Hollow reservoir in 4th place behind ITU swim speedsters Ben Kanute and Ali Brownlee. I have been swimming well all year in both training and racing, and it was good to have another boost of confidence in the water. I swam comfortable and was ready for the fireworks to go off on the bike. Said fireworks did go off, but unfortunately I was not lighting any of my own.
As soon as I got onto the bike I knew I wasn’t going to be riding to my potential. My power was about 20w lower than what it was for the first 30min compared to Challenge Melbourne a month prior. I struggled to get over 300w at the beginning; usually I can hold a steady 320ish for the initial part of the ride before settling. I rode the first hour solo, before notable uber bikers Lionel Sanders and Sebastian Kienle caught me. I held these guys for about 15min before succumbing to the higher power output and resigned to ride the rest of the bike solo. I was passed by a couple of other athletes climbing up Snow Canyon and entered T2 in 9th. I rode 2:07, which actually was not too bad comparing to other years on this course, however, this year it was not in the same postcode as some of the guys who posted an absurd 2:01 bike split.
As soon as I started the run, again I knew I was in trouble. It was all about survival from the get go. St George is the most brutally devastating course on the run, with amazing scenery, and lactic inducing inclines. There is not much to write about the run besides the fact that I was really struggling to get into my rhythm. I crossed the line in 9th place, quite disappointed in my performance, but still found a silver lining to salvage a 9th place in a World Championship caliber field.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing, and when I look back perhaps I rushed into St George too soon after coming to Boulder. I landed 3 weeks before the race and struggled to acclimate for the first 7 days. However, I put in a good week of work after the initial 7 days and made the decision to race. I was fit and healthy, I just did not have it on the day. That’s professional racing, you have to take the bad with the good, and fortunately 7 days later I was able to cash in on that ‘good’ at Santa Rosa (See below). Despite not racing well, St George, Utah, is an amazing place. Sarah and myself drove from Boulder and visited some incredible locations on the way home such as Zion National Park. It was a great week 🙂
Santa Rosa 70.3
Three days after arriving back in Boulder, I flew to San Fran and made the journey to NorCal to race Santa Rosa 70.3. I have amazing memories of this region as Santa Rosa is also home to Vineman 70.3, which I won in 2015. The course has changed a fair bit, but the amazing scenery, ambience and atmosphere still exist.
I have an amazing home stay in Santa Rosa who I have now stayed with for 3 years. Rob and Shelli Main have truly raised the bar for best homestay award. They know the area inside out and barely let us lift a finger while we stay there. I was also able to share the house with fellow Aussie Joe Gambles and Scottsman Fraser Cartmell – It was a great crew to hang out with and we all had a blast!
I was motivated to get redemption form St George and I just put all my focus on Santa Rosa, removing all thoughts of St George from my mind. I was able to lead out of the swim in the chilly water of Lake Sonoma and I mounted the bike with Tim O’ Donnell, Andy Potts and Joe Gambles in tow. It was a brisk 44F ambient air temp, but it didn’t seem to bother me too much. Initially, my power on the bike was low again and I started to panic a little bit that I was having a repeat of St George. However, after about 15min I settled into a rhythm and my power lifted considerably. I was able to remove Andy and TO from our group and only Joe was able to hang on.
I got stronger as the ride progressed, and by about mile 25 I was able to unhinge Joe as well to continue solo. The course at Santa Rosa really seems to suit my riding style with the rolling hills, and rough chipseal road. It’s the kind of course where you can get out of sight quite quickly and then really gain some big time gaps.
I kept pushing the bike really hard as I thought if there was a question mark over anything doing 2 x 70.3s in 7 days, it would be the run. I rode 2:03 for the 90km, with an average power of 300w – 15w higher than what I averaged at St George.
Into T2, coach Matt Dixon told me I had about 3:30min to Joe in second place. I knew if I held it together on the run I would be able to hang on for the win. I started out relaxed, and ticked over the miles getting frequent time checks stating I was holding about a 3min advantage. I was elated to cross the line in first, gaining that redemption from the week prior.
I am a little disappointed I was not able to race like I did in Santa Rosa at St George, because being the North American Pro Champs, it is a good one to post a good result. But I am also really happy to turn it around and race back up at my ability.
Next up for me is Eagleman 70.3 on June 11 and then onto Racine in July. As always thanks to Giant Bikes, Wattie Ink, Roka and FFWD Wheels for the continued support, as well as the crew at Purple Patch Fitness for getting me here!
Until next time…