Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Mooloolaba Oceania Cup 2014

The last major race of my Australian season had come up very quick, the Mooloolaba Oceania Cup. This is definitely one of my favourite races of the year but after two years of competing here I still haven't experienced the real deal, the swim leg at Mooloolaba Beach. Due to extreme surf conditions forecast for the weekend, we received an email on Wednesday stating that the swim had moved into the canal. A little disappointing but they had made the right decision this year with surf on Sunday morning around 5ft+.
I arrived in Mooloolaba early Friday morning, the weather was very tropical with intermittent rain, very hot and sunny, then the same three times over. Off to race briefing that afternoon to get the run down of the course, second Olympic distance triathlon of the year compromising of a one lap 1500m swim around an island in the canal. The 40km bike leg was practically flat, one lap out and back course. The 10km run was two laps consisting of three significant hills, the run was by far the most challenging part of the race. Woke early Saturday morning to head down to the canal to check tide movement for race morning, I had a quick float in the water and after headed into the surf for a pre race swim. Through the day I was able to watch the men's and women's elite races which was great, awesome racing. Wrapped up the rest of my pre race training in the arvo and was off to bed early ready for a 0430 alarm.

Race morning was here, luckily I had been getting up early the past couple of weeks otherwise it would have been a struggle. Great morning, weather was perfect for racing and I was keen to get underway. Straight into transition to check in, set up and get started on my warm up as there was only a short amount of time before race start. Warm up finished and I was now waiting in the athlete area ready to be lined up and called down to the beach. Going into this raced I was ranked 16th out of 37 athletes but only 30 showed up, small field but strong. Everyone was now ranked up and heading down to the beach, the first half of the field had taken the right side and I walked over to grab second place from the left, it was race time.
The race was on and I was off to a clean start, wasn't much of a beach run but still gained a bit of an advantage. After settling into to pace I checked the right side and they had a very fast start, a long line of swimmers was edging away and I needed to get onto feet by that turn first turn buoy. Bridged across but was about tenth place, terrible start but was swimming within front pack. Exited the swim with ten or more athletes and with a 600m run to transition I was able to make up some ground, although the bridge crossing was extremely dangerous with wet, slippery timber on the way down, a few athletes had a stumble. I had a bit of a mishap myself trying to jump on the bike, miss timed my jump and landed on the rear wheel, second try a success. The front group of around twenty athletes came together pretty quickly and we picked up Barrie soon after as he was sitting up. The bike leg rolled through at a pretty solid pace but everyone sat in comfortably with only a couple of attack attempts which were closed down in seconds. The last couple of km's on the bike was very technical and I wasn't taking any risks being stuck on the back, about 500m from the major right hand turn I came around from the back to take the lead and have a clean run through the first few turns. I was overtaken by another athlete just after one of the roundabouts but he locked up big time and almost lost it into the barrier at the turn into transition. I took the inside line and regained my lead into T2.
Very fast transition as I could hear chaos on the racks around me, I was out of there and into full stride. I had a little gap between myself and the group behind me but kept pushing, hit the hill for the first time and it shook me, legs went soft and wasn't able to rate up on the downhill. At about 2k the NZL guy had passed me and the large group was right on my heels. Three guys pushed past too quick and I couldn't jump on but a few other just edged in front and I was able to keep in close proximity. Heading up Alexandra Headland for the second time, I started to reel in some of the guys, passing one at a time I felt my run getting stronger again. En route back to the finish, 3k to go, there was a group of 4 ahead and another athlete running solo just in front of me. Over the top of the hill for the last time and downhill to the finish, I struggled running downhill and I had the athlete from Finland not too far behind me and closing in. He was getting closer and closer every 100m and I put everything in to hold my position until the end, finishing in 6th position.
It was a relief to find my running legs again in this race, as that is what the race came down to. It's been a very slow build after my injury last year but feel as though I am back to where I was before my injury. I look forward to it progressing more as I still have the European season to come. Happy with my result on the weekend, good end to the Oceania Cups in Australia. All I have planned now is NSW Club Championship in April and training before I head over to Europe in May, I will have a look at any local races if suit.

Also massive shout out to Stephen Harman for the race photos and photo shoot Sunday evening. Check out his Facebook and Instagram pages for triathlon coverage and the Mooloolaba weekend @stephen_harman 

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