Geelong, a city I’d only ever driven through on the way to Bell’s Beach. My total knowledge of the place was that it has a ferris wheel. When putting together a rough race calendar I threw this race in as a very big maybe, thinking I’d be lucky to be injury-free let alone fit enough. Things had gone much better than expected and I turned up prepared for my sixth half-distance race with a good opportunity to get a marker of where I was at heading towards Challenge Melbourne in April. I stayed a little bit out of town at a place called Anakie. In a former job, I’d spent countless hours interviewing top Victorian greyhound trainers from this suburb. Britton, Dailly, Bate etc. the hardcore punters will know who I’m talking about. Anyway, as a location to stay before a race, it was sensational, on a farm in the middle of nowhere, with a serenity that Daryl Kerrigan could only dream of; Bonnie Doon has nothing on Anakie. This meant good rest and time away from all the sea of calf socks and finisher shirts associated with a pre-race town. A little ride and run on course the day prior to the event and we were ready to go. The swim start was took place at Eastern Beach, a place often mention by Australia’s greatest detective, Ron Iddles in his tv show The Good Cop. He’s usually meeting dodgy informants there on his way to solving another homicide. There was nothing quite that dramatic on race morning, however the start was changed to a rolling start due to a large number of sea urchins. A long rubber mat was placed under the water to run on with flags that we were told to start swimming by. I really enjoyed the rolling start, lots of room to move, no feeling that the whole field was drifting away from me, not being swamped by the wave behind and actually passing the odd swimmer. The course is a well-marked, one-lap, left to right affair. Sighting was easy and it was probably the easiest course to negotiate I’ve swam at in the five different locations I’d raced this distance. I felt good throughout, spending most of it solo or with a guy who had no kick at all, making it hard to get any sort of help on his feet. It turned out to be my fastest half-distance swim to date; 35:26. Every race I’d done so far was pancake flat so I was looking forward to a course with a few more lumps on it; around 600m elevation for the two-lap, 90km bike. Straight out of transition you have a hill to deal with, followed by a long portion of mainly flat terrain. The far end of each lap features some rolling hills, including Leopold Hill; the one you see in all the photos of the event. The road is a mix of some very smooth sections with the bulk of it being a little more of a deadening type.
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