Gisborne Oceania Championships Race Report
I like to think I am one of the most well prepared athletes on the start line of every race I start. Gisborne Oceania Champs were a different story. With a wildcard Olympic spot on the line for the winner's country the Gisborne boardwalk was surrounded by groups of triathletes from every big squad in Australia. These guys were all given a brief on what was to happen out there to ensure an Aussie won the race and claimed the coveted spot. Thankfully I was slightly aware of what was going on beforehand and made a conscious effort to try and avoid a mob lynching by doing anything the least bit silly. The build up to this race was an interesting one for me. Checking out the swim course the day before the race was a bit of a shock. Despite visiting Gisborne 10years previous, the size of the swell had escaped my memory and my lack of surf skills became exceedingly evident. I'm very thankful to have had my coach Corey and a few teammates in Gisborne. After a couple of sessions working with them on my entry and exit I felt 100 times more prepared than I was on first attempt. The only problem was I was still 100 times less prepared than the guys that had grown up surf lifesaving. Nonetheless, after watching a few surf swim videos the night before and a quick swim practice early morning before the race I'd convinced myself I was an expert and it was time to go!
The start practice I had done earlier in the week had obviously paid off because for what might be the first time in my triathlon career I was one of the first athletes in the water. From there it was on. Exiting the first lap I could see I was just off the back of a decent sized pack. The second lap was spent screaming at myself to latch on or it's game over. After a quick run up the sand to T1 I could see the pack just up the road.
Following coach's orders I didn't worry about my shoes and set out chasing. After punching 400W at 52kmph out of T1 I was able to latch on pretty quickly and was in my shoes before the first turnaround of the 8 lap bike. Looking around at who was in the group I knew I was in the right place. From there things got a little boring. With three Aussie guys off the front and only 5 kiwi guys, a Ukrainian and a large number of Aussies in my group, the kiwis were forced to go the front to try and bridge the gap. Any time an Aussie got anywhere near the front, the shouting started. Infighting was the theme of the race and despite the best efforts of some colourful language from their compatriots, a couple of the NZ boys refused to work. With only 2 of the 5 kiwis contributing to the pace, the effort was futile and the gap to the front kept extending.
Heading out of T2 I felt good. Given I hadn't run 10kms in a race in forever I decided to build the run with the goal of negative splitting and reeling in a couple of guys that had gone out hard. Evidently my body had other ideas. As I started winding things up at 4km I felt the pull of cramps. Then they hit me hard. Stopping to punch my leg cost me two spots and 20secs on the guy I was running with. I was worried, but not deterred. I'd been here before and I knew I could figure it out if I was smart. The next two kms were spent dialling it in and trying to run as straight and smooth as possible. My body responded and at 6kms with Corey's encouragement I decided it was time to go. I am super proud of my last two laps. Reeling in two spots after cramps had forced me to a walk is not easy but it does show what your body is capable of if your mind is strong enough.
Finishing 14th is by no means where I think I am capable of being but it is a step in the right direction and there are so many positives to take away from my progress over the last few weeks. With a strong field in Gisborne just picking up some more ITU points was the goal. You can't complain when you accomplish what you set out to do.
Full results HERE.
I must say a massive thank you to my host family James and Lynda. They went above and beyond. I know it's not an easy task for patriotic New Zealanders to cheer for Aussies but they were some of the loudest out there! After some rushed travel consisting of a 6hr drive to Auckland immediately post race, I'm back home and getting stuck into a good block of training before a couple of races at the end of April. Until then!