Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Continental Cup Mooloolabah, QLD

Since I started triathlons I have always wanted to travel up to mooloolaba to compete. Finally I had the chance to race there and also compete in my first Continental Cup race. I have heard really good things about the mooloolaba race, including the surf swim and the warm weather. Unfortunately this year only had the warm weather. Due to the forecast of dangerous surf conditions, the swim was moved into the lake which meant the run to transition was not 100 or 200m but 500m along the hard pavement.
This was also my first draft-legal Olympic distance event, I have done a couple of non-drafting Olympic before but this would be a whole lot different. The swim course was 1500m around an island in the lake, after a 500m run from the swim to bike we had to complete a 40km ride (1 lap out and back) which was mainly flat with a few small hills at the start. A 10km run followed which was one of the hardest courses I've been on as there was 3 climbs and extremely hot. The field was very strong with a big variety of age, 30 competitors from countries such as Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Columbia and Japan looked to be a good race.

Very early race start on Sunday morning, 6:30 was our race and also the first wave of the day. Didn't have much time for a solid warm up so had to make the most of the time we had. I was ranked last as I have not done a Conti cup before and was a bit worried if I was going to get a good position on the sand. After watching the men's world cup the day before I decided I wanted to start on the right side, lucky enough there was one position left on the very inside right, yes! About 3sec after I got my position we were off. I was off to a flying start, couple of steps through the water before diving in and I was out in front away from the chaos. I led out the right hand group while I could see Dan Wilson leading the left hand group. It was about 300m to first buoy so the pack had time to straighten out before turning. About half way through the swim I was now sitting in the top half of the pack and Wilson had a gap on the rest of the field. Coming in from the swim there was a sand bank about 50m offshore that I had checked out the day before which enabled athletes to porpoise for about 20m before it went deep again. Came out of the water in the middle of the pack and had to sprint to transition to ensure I didn't have to do any chasing on the bike. Very quick transition and was out onto the bike sitting comfortably in the pack. The group rolled over the hills at a hard pace but even so the pack stayed together. As it stood, Wilson had a big gap ahead of my pack which had about 20 riders there was another pack behind of about 15 riders and also a few solo riders at the tail end. The packed worked really well on the way out, majority of people were rolling turns and we were catching Wilson. On the way back it was a bit scattered, several poor attacks didn't help as the group would catch back up and we would be freewheeling for 10-15sec. The last km is very technical, very fast and some tight bends. Just as we were going up the last hill I got on the wheel of another rider who rode up to the front, I overtook him just as the corners started and had a clean run all the way through to transition. I had the 2nd fastest ride time for the race leading my pack onto the run but still 2nd overall as Wilson still had a big lead. Felt pretty good coming off the bike although a pack of 4 came past pretty quick about 2k in and wasn't able to kick to stay with them, a few others had also passed but couldn't stick with any of them. Going up the hill for the first lap was really hard, it was long and the turn around was right at the top. Sitting in 8th position with a group of 3 not too far behind, it looked as though they were gaining but I would have been disappointed to miss out on top 10 so I picked up the pace and pushed for last 3km. The hill 2nd time round wasn't so bad, knowing that when I got to the top it was only a km downhill to the finish. I managed to hold that group off and put more time into them coming over in 8th position with an overall time of 1:54:20.

Very happy with the result in my first continental cup race placing 8th out of 30 athletes. Will be doing a lot more of these when I travel to Europe later this year. I nw have NSW club champs on the first weekend of April then preparation for Europe will begin.

ITU Junior Race 4, Oceania Championships New Zealand

The last race of the Australian Junior series had come around very quickly, the end of my Australian triathlon season was very near. Headed down to Wellington, New Zealand on the 7th of March with the TRINSW squad. We arrived early afternoon to extremely good weather for NZ, a little cold compared to what I am use to but a lot better than the first time I went there. With a day and bit of training we were scheduled to race at 10am Saturday morning. The majority of the field was Australian athletes but was good to see a few NZ athletes. This was a sprint distance race 750m swim in Wellington Harbour, 20km bike leg (3 laps) along Oriental Parade with a 300m climb each lap with some windy conditions and 5km (2 lap) flat run along the footpath.

35 U19 males lined up at the start ready to go in very different conditions to what I arrived in, very cold, windy and overcast. Race was off and I had a terrible start, bit hesitant off the pontoon and I dived in a tad late to get an absolute thrashing out to first buoy which was under 200m away. The start cost me big time for the rest of the race, only got my rhythm in the back half of the swim and it was too late by then. Come out of the water 10sec behind the lead pack (which consisted of about 10 riders) with another athlete, we worked really well on the bike picking up another athlete who had dropped off the main group. Going up the hill for the first time I felt strong and stuck with the other guy but 100m before the turn around at the top he managed to get a little gap and left me for dead on the downhill. Within the next couple of km's he caught the lead pack and I was still pushing my hardest to chase them down, got close with the tail wind behind but as soon as I turned into the headwind I realised I had no chance so had to make the decision to hold up and wait for the chase pack who was close behind. Pack caught me with Just under a lap and a half to go and sat in to save the legs for the run. I knew there was a lot of fast runners in this group so I made sure that I gave myself the best chance to stick with them. Off the bike and onto the run, within the first 100m 2 runners came past and I was able to kick and run with them. Stuck close to them for the next lap and a half and picked off quite a few athletes from the lead group, it wasn't until the last turn around one of the athletes kicked and broke away, the other guy and myself tried to chase but he had set a quick pace. The last 500m I passed another athlete from the front group but both athletes I was running with had got away, almost caught another front group athlete but finished 2sec behind in 9th position.

Bit disappointed with that result as another few seconds in the swim would have put me in lead pack and would have been looking at a lot higher position. Finished 9th out of 35 Junior males, only 17sec between 4th and myself. Have my first Continental Cup race this weekend over the Olympic distance, really looking forward to that.