Vineman 70.3. Sonoma County, California. A beautiful wine-growing region (hence the name ‘Vineman’) about 90 minutes from San Francisco. The race is run by a great team of people and the course takes in all the amazing scenery the region has to offer. The event has a reputation of being one of the half-ironman classics, which is further emphasized by the number of top professional athletes that toe the line each year. The amazing hospitality of the community and the attractive prize purse are two more ticks of approval that draw some big names to this event.
- Craig Alexander (AUS)
- Timothy O’Donnell (USA)
- Kevin Collington (USA)
- Mark Bowstead (NZL)
- Luke Bell (AUS)
- Ben Collins (USA)
- Matt Reed (USA)
- TJ Tollakson (USA)
I felt great on race morning and after setting up my transition and warming up I meandered down to the race start. The swim is basically 950m straight up river, U turn and swim 950m back. I swam up the front, utilizing any chance I could get to ‘dolphin dive’ as the water was shallow enough at point to be only thigh deep. The pack didn’t split too much and a group of 8 of us emerged from the Russian River, including all the names mentioned above.
Bowstead and Collins ripped through transition and immediately went to work at the beginning of the ride, leaving the rest of us to chase hard early from the beginning. After about 5 km the pace settled and we were all firmly established in the group. Despite feeling like I was in good run shape, I didn’t want to get off the bike with a big group. It just leaves too much to chance, especially when 5 time world champion Craig Alexander is in the mix. Tim Reed had given me some extremely valuable information about the course that he used last year to help him win the event and I was keen to employ a similar tactic. I had spent the last few days riding the back 30 kilometres of the bike course where there are some sturdy hills and tight, technical sections with the hope of establishing a little break from the pack.
Coming through about half way on the bike I decided to give it a push on one of the downhill/technical sections to see what was in my legs. I got a 50m advantage and decided to fully commit to my pre race plan right at that moment.
I was unsure of how much time I was gaining but I kept the pressure through the pedals for the remainder of the ride and blasted into transition, knowing that this is where I would find out how much time I had to play with. As I trotted out onto the run someone called out that I had 2 minutes over the chase pack. Almost an identical situation to what occurred at Cairns 70.3 a month prior.
I tried to remain controlled and knew if I ran to my ability then I would have a good chance at winning. Although it’s never a comfortable feeling when you have some seriously quality runners chasing you down! I got to about 14km and was still holding my 2min advantage to Craig who I knew would be the one leading the charge. It was here that I kept telling myself to remain relaxed and I was able to really enjoy the final kilometer and the finish chute. Craig Alexander showed age is no barrier and came in 2nd with Kevin Collington running strongly to round out the podium.
Huge personal thanks to my sponsors, my wonderful home stay in Santa Rosa, Rob and Shelli Main, and my home away from home in Boulder, Pam and Warren Schuckies. You guys are all amazing.
Thanks to Shelli my amazing homestay. Rob was out racing while this was taken!
I am now getting into gear for 70.3 World Championships on August 30 in Zell Am See, Austria.