Shepparton Challenge Half
Saying I was excited going into Shepparton half would be an understatement. After finally reaching one of my goals in the sport turning pro to make my debut, but also after puncturing in the first few kms last year, I was eager to have a good crack. I went in with confidence and belief being my mantra for the day. > Race morning greeted us with overcast conditions and a chilly 8.c. While walking down to set my bike and gear up, the wind was starting to gain some momentum. Warm up complete and ready to rumble, I started to the far right with only Dan Wilson outside me (eventual winner). With a M shape course and plenty of good swimmers I knew I had to get out quick if I had any chance of holding on to the Bunch. The gun went off and we were away! As we approached the first turn buoy I was in the thick of it. Swim goal completed; get a good start. Once around the first turn, the field started to thin out and I found some feet to sit on. I exited the water 3mins down on the 2 leaders and 2mins down to the main bunch. In and out of T1 cleanly and onto my bike. That's when I realized how windy it was! 50kmh side winds on an out and back course in open fields means there is no hiding. I was with a few of the lads and felt comfortable as we started to pick up a few guys that had been up on us out of the swim. Once I was settled on the bike I started my usual race nutrition plan, but within 60sec of downing a gel it was straight back up and left on the Victorian roads. This pretty much sums up the rest of my bike leg. Rain, spew, wind, rain, spew, wind and more spew. I did a few turns and filled a few holes during the bike leg, but I tried to remain as efficient as possible knowing the fuel tank would start to run empty at some stage. The back 30km or so hurt. At one stage our bunch consisted of 8 athletes and dwindled down to 3 athletes by the time we got into T2. We were holding the 6th, 7th and 8th position as we entered T2. I struggled big time putting my shoes and socks on because of how cold my hands were. I was fatigued from holding onto my bike for 90km trying not to get blown off the road. Into the run and a few kms in I had slid back to 9th. On a technical cross course you get a good look at where everyone is and knowing I had a good gap on 10th I played the smarter option (not one I usually take) and eased off a bit trying to fuel as much as possible. I hung tough and finished across the line in my fastest ever half Ironman and a 9th position. Time to build for the big one in Wanaka!
All in all a great day for the team
Matt Lewis 2nd in the 20-24 Male
Carolyn Dews 1st in the 40-44 Female
Rob Sheeley debut Half Ironman in just over 5 Hours