Port Macquarie 70.3 was at the top of the list for the 2015/16 season, this was the first time I would race in Port Mac and had heard a lot about the challenging course and strong competition in previous years. Drove up the coast Friday mid-morning after picking up the bike from Endeavour Cycles, couldn't thank George enough for getting it race ready, fitting new chainrings and a power meter thanks to Sam at Power2Max Australia. Saturday I went through the usual with athlete briefing and pre race training which included course familirisation, from what I was told the bike is tough but I didn't realise how tough it actually was until I rode part of it, however, I would prefer a course like this over a dead flat road any day. The swim has been know for some current movement and the run is flat with a short climb each lap.
The Pro list had some good names amongst it with two time Champion at this race Josh Amberger and Tim Reed who is one of the fastest runners in the sport, 24 Male Pros turned up for Port Mac 70.3 this year and it looked like it was going to be a tough race... I was right...
Men's start was first at 06:45, top seeded guys were called into the water first which included Amberger and Fettell which were both regular front pack swimmers. They made their way over to the far right start buoy and so did 90% of the other guys, following the strong swimmers. I watched everyone swim by and crowd one another in that right corner, I decided to start furthest left and not take anyone else with me. We were off and I could see straight away Amberger leading out the right side, I kept my line for the first 200m and slowly drifted over to Amberger's line, I was only 20-30m behind him and was slowly catching him with Fettell on my feet. It wasn't until just after the U-Turn maybe 1.2-.3k I finally caught his feet and was able to relax a little, not long after we came across a shallow section where Fettell and myself were able to porpoise for 50m or so and I got a little gap, once we started swimming again Amberger took the lead to exit out of the water first, myself 2nd and Fettell 3rd.
We had a 50sec gap on the chase group, I exited transition first and was pushing hard on the bike from the start. I felt good through the rolling hills but once we got onto the flats and Amberger passed me it was a struggle to keep him in my sight, I noticed a big difference not having a disc wheel and was pushing 340-50W for the first 20k. After taking a lead just before the first U-Turn Amberger passed me on an uphill and I cracked, I had to let him go and with the chase pack not too far behind I decided to sit up take some nutrition and start again. The chase pack of nine guys caught me and I wasn't going to sit back and watch I stayed at the front with Reed and Munro to keep the pace on to make sure we didn't lose to much time on Amberger.
Heading up Matthew Flinders Dr for the first time was brutal, the gear ratio on my bike wasn't ideal for that hill and pushed over 900W to get to the top although I was able to recover for a bit having broken away from the pack. We were now out on our second lap and about 3min down on Amberger, I rode solid that 2nd lap, the pack losing no more than 45sec on the leader. Back into town with a huge pack and I was a little nervous heading into the run with so many guys as my run training in the lead up was far from good. Was so happy to finally have a race with continuous power and no dropouts, turned on the Garmin as soon as I got to my bike, Power2Max Auto Calibrated straight away and it worked from start to finish. Very happy with this and cannot wait to use it throughout training now.
Out of transition around 5th place and wasn't feeling too bad, first few k's had me running at 3:35-40min/km but had other guys fly past me making it look easy. Between km 3-8 was terrible, I couldn't keep anything down, having a little spew every couple of minutes and I was losing a lot of time, now in 8 or 9th position but then it clicked just before the first hill, good timing. I started to feel great, form was good and pace had picked up dramatically, slowly picking off the guys that had passed me earlier. I was now stoked to be back in the top 6 with only a few km's left but I could see ahead what looked to be Amberger, I passed him to move into 5th position, unfortunately he has been suffering injuries this year and his run has been letting him down but all credit to him for smashing the swim bike. Was really happy to be coming down the finish in 5th after a shaky first 10k and only 90sec separated 2nd to 5th, Congrats to Tim Reed who dominated the run leg to take the win by 5mins.
Stoked with my first race for this season, came away with some positives and a couple negatives to work on in the coming months. That was the last year Port Macquarie will hold a Pro field for the 70.3 as it will be on the same weekend as the Ironman next time so was glad to get that race in. At the moment I'm deciding on the next race to do but will be racing again within the next 3 weeks.
Huge thanks to all my sponsors for their support, honoured to be using the best brands in the business, over the moon to be finally racing in my very own custom Trisuit thanks to Nimblewear and Titan Performance Group, very happy with how it looks.