Headed down to Batemans Bay Saturday morning for some pre-race training and registration, quick swim before lunch and headed out on the bike course afterwards to familiarize myself with the 'hills'. First few minutes was OK, some rolling hills, then made a turn into what was almost a wall, wasn't long but just real punchy and a grind to get over the top of, for the next 10k it was rolling hills before 2 laps on the flats, the same type of wall was to be climbed on the way back.
Woke up to a dewy morning, pitch black and quite cold. Transition was setup pretty quick, short run done and had to wait a bit for more light before I started a swim warm up. Got in the water for about 15min before race start which was at 7am. After watching the tide and currents at 7pm night before I had a good idea of where to start and which way we would be pulled as we swam. I started far left and noticed it was quite bunched on the right but wasn't fussed as I was confident where I was. I had a clean start and was feeling comfortable putting some pace on for the first couple of hundred meters, it wasn't long until I was leading the train of swimmers, I kept the pace pretty firm the first lap having the lead paddler navigate to each buoy but on the second lap I was on my own, I had lost anyone sitting on my feet and I was weaving in and out of the AGs trying to spot the next buoy ahead. I felt great throughout the whole swim and was able to ease off a bit on the 2nd lap. I came out of the water first with a 20-30sec gap on the next bunch of athletes, this job was made much easier in my new Xterra Vector Pro wetsuit, my arms didn't get fatigued one bit and it is extremely buoyant.
Leading the way, perfect morning (http://www.photomcmillan.com/-/galleries/blog/batemans-bay-challenge-triathlon)
I was not giving up my lead yet, very smooth transition and out onto the bike course ready to put the pedal down. I was over the rolling hills with ease feeling good and as I made the turn ready to climb 'the wall' I could see I still had a decent gap between myself and what I could tell was Appleton and another athlete. The numbers were looking positive early on and was not holding back, unsure of what groups had formed or who was chasing. I was still leading after 10k but could see Appleton closing in fast and by himself, I hit the flats and he took the lead, there was no keeping up with him. I had to keep calm and ride to what I was capable of and watch him vanish up the road. Now that the HR was even and breathing was controlled I started trying to take some on some gel and fluid, what I put in just came straight back out, it was like the water level was at my throat and I couldn't hold any more. After a few little spews and 45min later I finally was able to take in some nutrition but only in small amounts. I was still sitting in 2nd with Robertson a little way behind, Bittner was next and then a group of 5 or so, I started to struggle a bit after the first turn-around heading back north but when I hit the next turn and saw I had put good time into the main group my confidence shot back up and I found a second wind heading out for the second lap. A couple of km's out from the hills Robertson had caught me and I was able to keep him in sight and overtake him again once we hit the hills. Again I was feeling strong over the hills and realized I had put a 7min+ gap into the main group behind, would this be enough...
Out onto the run in 2nd place and I was feeling excellent, checking the watch and seeing that I was running 3:10min/km pace was a shock and had to slow it down quickly to around 3:30min/km. Robertson passed me about 3k into the run and provided some good words of encouragement to me which kept my head strong. I passed 10k in just over 36min and everything was looking good, sitting in 3rd with a decent gap, I knew the guys in the pack run fast and their legs would be fresher than mine. At around the 14k mark, I started to struggle big time, pace was slowing down and minor cramps were frequent. The little hill out at the turn around really hurt the 2nd time and I was in trouble, now running around 4:10min/km the chasers were quickly gaining. Bittner passed me not long after the final turn around, then Kastelein and Waddington only a few km's out from the finish. Although my run diminished so quickly I was still very happy to finish 6th Pro and overall for the day with a time of 4:10:04.
Stoked to finish 6th Pro at my first Challenge event and my first proper half-distance race, very well run event and awesome course. Surprised myself in the bike leg posting the 3rd fastest pro time and riding solo for 95% of it. Look forward to the next Challenge event on the calendar and coming back to Batemans Bay next year. Big thanks to my sponsors providing me with the best gear and support from family and friends. Thanks for reading