Flew to Cairns, Australia (almost got upgraded to Biz class as the flight was full and overbooked…finally no! Huge disappointment…ok let’s save some good luck for Sunday’s race instead) I went to the IRONBAR in Port Douglas…classic! I went Stand Up Paddling on the 4 mile beach No seriously, I joined the 70.3 race (not inaugural but 1st time under the WTC Ironman banner) There were about 800 IM and about 800 70.3 athletes as well + 200 teams 2000 pts race for the full, 500 pts race for the half => so it should be a small field on the 70.3, but you never know in Australia! No pasta party and no awards ceremony for 70.3 athletes…unless i missed something? it felt a bit weird not to get anything…??? Clearly the real race was the full Ironman A quick bike check on the course on Saturday. A quick swim on the course as well (i would not want to go alone given it’s crocs’ paradise around here). Cloudy, showers… Checked my bike in T1 (I entered a bit late so no name for me..boooo) Not so many disc around…actually it’s not as flat as I thought…but the disc was fine No windy on race day too, so 808 carbon clincher at front was good See the artificial lagoon (race day’s weather), nice! Race day Good thing I went for a quick warm-up run before the swim…since we could not enter until 5-10min before the start Beautiful day, sunrise, calm waters…PROS 1st wave with 3min on the 70.3 AGers. Then Ironman athletes 20min behind approx Anti-clockwise course, 1 lap, not so good for me since I breath on the right side, mostly…and i put myself on the middle/right side of the starting line (not a smart move…should be on the very far left) Anyway, gun went off and I’m sprinting…which I hate doing without any warmup…As expected I’m losing feet and drifting on the right… After 300-400m I’ve lost the fast swimmers (ie almost ALL pros basically) and I found myself swimming on my own, a bit off-course, too much on the right side 2 pros came past me after 600m and I tried to get in their feet for a while but it did not last more than 100m Shame, what’s wrong with my swimming? Well…I’m at my level…these guys are just freaking swimmers! 1st 90 deg turn left, 200m straight, there was some current yesterday here but I dont feel anything…get to the 2nd buoy, 90 deg turn left and on my way back home Only 820m left, straight back. A bit more choppy here, went a bit left, right, … looking where is the swim exit! Hard to spot…I’m now aiming for a big boat in the Marina behind the exit pontoon – should do the trick I’m surprised I have not been caught by AGers yet…strong swimmers should be able to put me 3min easy over 1.9km I did not check my watch, no idea what’s my time so far…or maybe I’m again off-course so I did not see these guys passing on my left…maybe Swim exit, some AGers with me. Check my watch 29′xx. Happy with that – if only I could find some feet (like slow men or women, but faster than me, still) and draft behind…i could shave 1′ here…next time (or back in AGers, then it’s easy to shave off 30 seconds, 1min…maybe 2013) LONG transition…very long: run, run Forrest! Only 1 pro bag…so i’m 2nd last to exit the water eheh…3’30 to finally exit the transition on the bike! pfffff… On the bike, I quickly pass the 2-3 AGers that swam/exit ahead of me in T1 Then I pass Michelle Wu around 5k into the bike leg (this is good, I usually pass her after at least 20km on the bike, so I must have had a decent swim after all). I saw Tim Berkel spinning slowly on the side of the road, no idea what happened but it means one pro less ahead of me. Good. Now I’ve got 2 guys ahead of me, approx 200m, they’re going pretty fast so must be 2 pros. It takes me 30km to reel them in, it’s Gilmer and Gordon. I feel good, I dont want them to suck my wheel (given I’ve caught them, they wont be of any help if we stick together anyway) so I pass them fast and leave a 30m margin between us, which will extend to a few minuted by the end of the bike leg The bike course is just AWESOME! Beautiful sunny day and a nice perfect coastal road only for me, no one in front, no one behind, nice blue color sky/sea on my side…at some stage it’s even hard to focus on cycling hard as this is a stunning scenery This is really cool Some/Most roads are rough tho, more than what I had in mind actually! I should have put less air in my disc, it’s definitely not ideal! At the turning point (approx 60km mark, as T1 and T2 are different location), I see Pete Jacobs leading, with someone else behind. Then 3, 4 together…I think McKenzie is 5th (not sure), but 5th is on his own. Then 6th and 7th together. Finally 8th just a few seconds ahead of me (my friend Rob whom I met in Phuket a few years back, top swimmer!), I caught him a few k’s after the U-turn, meaning i am in 8th position…not so far behind 6th and 7th. After the U-turn, ouch, dozens of AGers coming out fast, very fast…..i’m thinking: come on, did they really had a 3min deficit on us at the start! s*** On the other side, it’s drafting paradise, everbody in line…I’m not saying anything but when I saw the overall results at the end, that reminded me of how different AG and PRO races are! Completely different…And I’m not blaming anyone, since the roads were pretty narrow, so there were no marshal around here on motorbikes (dangerous) and riders could not really make clean pass in groups of 20-30…so drafting it is no choice with a mass start anyway I suppose it was a bit different for IM athletes since we turned much earlier than they did, leaving them with more space on the roads. But that was another small issue, as the Top Ironman Pros (and AGers) had to slalom between the mass of slow 70.3 riders…not for too long tho (probably 10-20km?) but still…I was glad we could go 1st and enjoy this awesome bike course alone! I’m sure the leaders on the Ironman felt the same after they kept going to Port Douglas when we turned back to town. Forgot to mention that the bike leg was a bit hilly actually, some rolling hills. A few more steeper than others. Great stuff! But i started on a 41′x acg speed…and was now struggling to maintain a 40kmh avg speed…damnit! I was really pushing on the last 5-10km to hold that 40kmh avg speed (it’s hard to find some motivation when you’re riding 90k on your own, without anyone to chase down ahead of you), so avg speed is a good one 91.x on my Garmin. Finally in T2, 2h17 -> 4th pro time (i wont compare overall since not interesting/different race) but pretty happy with that. Pete Jacobs went 2h12, that’s fast on that course! Then Casey in 2h13 (ex pro cyclist I think), then Rix in 2h15 and bibi in 2h17. Good to see my bike is getting there -> Thanks BLUE for the Triad SL The run is point to point. Dont expect much crowd until you hit town. Dont expect shade as well. It’s pretty rolling with some slightly downhills and uphills. I am leaving T2 when the 2 pros I dropped arrive…A few hundred meters to find my legs, check my footpod, get some redbull to wake up a bit the brain! Fire these running muscles! After 4km someone is closing on me very fast…really? It’s a green bib number, I am thinking must be a team…but then this guy is too slow for a fresh runner! So must be an age grouper…which means that he caught 3 min on me already! pfff…drafting paradise for AGers (ok let’s assume he’s a very strong swim/bike/run guy. Could be). Then another one pass me, and another one…all before the 12k mark… I’m thinking damn Achilles, I’m running with less than 2 months of running training…no wonder I cannot compete on the run. I dont feel tired, I just dont have the legs to run faster…It will come back in a few months I am confident. Today deal with it, and run what’s your current level! probably 1h24/25… A pro is sitting on the side of the road, meaning i am 7th now…good for motivation! And I’ve got another one struggling in sight. Cool. I’m now in 6th. Close to the prize money…Although I’ve seen the guys at the 4k mark U-turn and i think there was a gap between 5th and 6th…not sure. Anyway on this section of the run, we’ve got some long straights and i can’t see anyone fading at the front. It’s very unlikely that the guy in 5th will give up his position now. Worse, someone is catching me (Gordon, whom I had passed on the bike early on), damn…just can’t follow…he’ll have a 1h20 run vs my 1h25… The good news is that I can’t see anyone behind me, so i keep it steady but no need to kill myself. Crossed the line in 7th pro, 4h17’50 Out of the prize money for 3min I believe I could run a 1h20 half here once I’ll have my running back…so it’s all heading in the right direction here. Maybe someday before I turn 40 I could be competitive (Well on the same WE, we had Lance Armstrong (41) winning 70.3 Hawaii, ahead of Bennet (38) and Lieto (40)… And we had Cam Brown, 2nd of the Full IM, Shortis, Vabrousek 4th, …… so maybe I should indeed wait a bit longer, it seems i can’t get any slower actually!) Great trip! Highly recommended race, awesome course. Thanks to my crew from SportsWorld for joining me this WE. As well as some other friends from HKG and Australia. Great. And as usual, a big thank you to my SPONSORS: O2 CREATION, SPORTSWORLD, BLUE, POWERBAR
NOTA: It was really great to be able to watch and support the full Ironman athletes on the afternoon.
Outstanding show by David Dellow who had a 4min deficit in T2 and managed to catch Cam Brown, fading on the end of the run, putting another 7min at the end, with a 2h48 marathon.
Macca was validating his Kona slot, high fiving everyone on the sidewalks, smiling and chatting with everyone (9h05 at the end for “jogging” the course all the way…that’s a sub8 triathlete!)
On the girl side shame Keat had to drop out – injury…hopefully not too bad as she was in really good shape! going for the win ‘easy’. Great show behind her between Carrie Lester and Belinda Harper. With a very fast Candice Hammond on the run. And as usual a superb Belinda Granger finishing 4th (no idea how she does that! well done again BG!)
More photos here