Port Macquarie 70.3
Ironman announced late in 2015 that they were going to add the 70.3 race on the same day as Ironman Australia in Port Macquarie. Straight away it was a race I wanted to do after completing the Ironman in 2015. The race up there has a great vibe, a tough course and a fairly close race to home meant family and friends could make the journey for the weekend. That and the fact this was my last chance to qualify for the World Champs later on the year, I was keen to do well.
Lead up was pretty good, racing twice in the prior 2 weeks at some shorter races, only a few niggling injuries but all in all it was a fairly good prep. Race morning, and we were to leave 1-2 hours after the Ironman race in a rolling start. I set my stuff up early so i could watch some fellow Project M athletes start their Ironman race before warming up and getting ready.
Some athletes were way to keen to get up the front of the swim and were ready 45 mins before the proposed start time, i was happy to wait, and if i was a little back on the swim i wasn’t too worried. I started with Tegan Davies, Mark Duncan and Ilyas Musker, about 2-3 minutes after the first competitor had gone. A simple rectangle swim course, it was pretty uneventful. I was out of the swim and onto the bike, i thought I was doing OK. On the hills heading out of town, i saw Tegan, this rang some alarm bells, and the OK swim I thought I had was definitely not the case. I knew I had a bit of work to do so got down to settling into a rhythm and getting some time back. For the first 30km I was solo. Coach had told me to hold back on the ride just a little, to leave something for the run. I was passed by one 70.3 athlete like I was standing still about 20km in. I tried to react, but he was pushing some serious pace so quickly decided to hold off as it was not going to end well for me. I was later joined by 2 other athletes, who were working hard and I knew I had to hold that pace. This worked well, each of us working on the front and pushing the pace at different times. As we moved through the field the group gradually got bigger and bigger. Heading back into town past the golf course and up Matthew Flinders there was riders everywhere, so I decided to take my foot off the gas and cruise into town with the rest of the peloton that had formed, knowing that I needed a strong run which is unlike my previous endeavours into long course racing, and also it was a little dangerous, evidenced by 2 guys crashing heavily in the town centre no less than 5-10m behind me. Happy to get the bike over in 2.20.36 and get onto the run.
The run course was altered from the Ironman course, 3 laps from transition out to Settlement Point, then through to the finish on last lap, a flat course after removing the Ironman hill. I was with another athlete, Dave Kennett, from my age group until he pushed the pace half way through the first lap. Knowing that I had couple of minutes on him as I saw him lining up before me at the swim start, and I decided to sit back and be patient. As long as I could keep site of him in the distance I knew I was ok. The first turn around point at Settlement Point was the first time you could gauge how you were going in the race. Still hard to do due to the rolling swim start, I saw a couple of people in my age group and I wasn’t too far off, but definitely behind. I was lucky to find someone running the same pace which helped move me through the first 2 laps of the run and keep a steady pace. Plan on the run was to be steady on the first 2 laps and increase the pace as much as possible on 3rd lap . I was feeling ok heading out onto the 3rd lap, and knew I had a bit of work to do, so I increased the pace, and set out closing the gap to Dave ahead who I had been able to keep in my sights about 200m ahead. Heading out Settlement Point, with some ‘encouragement’ or heckling from Scott Ashcroft, i was able to catch him about 2-3km from the finish coming back from Settlement Point. I was stoked to finally put a 70.3 race together trying to be a little more patient than I normally am, after having a few shockers on the run in the past, 1.26.44 for the run, and 4.22.19 for the race.
I managed to grab 3rd in my AG, 12th overall, and was lucky enough to grab a spot to the 2016 World Champs on the Sunshine Coast, meaning a few cold mornings in the winter ahead but I can’t wait, especially with the number of Project M athletes have gained qualification as well. A huge amount of work to do before then, but really excited by the challenge.
Onto to Port Stephens Olympic now, before getting into the training for September