The Tauranga Half Ironman is a favourite race for many kiwi athletes to kick off the new year with. It is usually a nice warm summers day with great crowd support, a fast bike, and a challenging run!
The forecast this year was for wind and rain, although as race day dawned the sun was out and we were in for a scorcher, along with some stiff winds out on the course.
The start went well for me, but I found my self in no-mans land behind the quick front pack of 6 guys (including eventual 1st and 2nd place finishers Dylan McNeice and Mike Phillips), but well ahead of the main group behind. Exiting 1min down from the front, it was going to be a tough task to reel in the group of 6 on my own.
(Swim split – 26:35) – 1:20/100m pace
I got settled in to a solid rhythm on my bike and was joined by Cam Brown and Dan Plews around the 30km mark. The pace was on as we pushed hard right back to T2. The front group had splintered, and guys were dropping off over the final stages into the headwind.
(Bike split – 2:11) – 41km/h Average
A brutal pace set by Cam Brown out onto the run course had Dan and I on the ropes, although we had now moved up into 4th and 5th place on the road. A battle with Dan around the base track and newly installed stair section each lap was where I managed to gain a bit of time and run in for a strong finish in 4th place. Very happy with my form leading into Ironman NZ in 6 weeks time.
On July 8th Larisa and I flew out of Auckland headed towards the USA for 3 months of training and racing. We are lucky enough to have a base in Madison, Wisconsin staying with Larisa’s cousin Julia who has been kind enough to have us to stay – thanks Julia! We arrived into Madison after 30hours of flying via Rarotonga and Los Angeles. There were a few dramas along the way with delays and baggage not fitting in the car but it’s funny how everything always just works out nicely when you stay calm and trust that things happen for a reason 🙂 Larisa’s cousin picked us up at 1am local time with a rental van (big enough to fit all our bags/bikes!) and drove us to her apartment where we are basing ourselves for the next few months. The apartment is a perfect little setup for us; great kitchen, big fridge and a coffee machine! It’s so close to everything we need, walking distance to the Wholefoods food market and Target, 500m to the local outdoor pool, 10min ride away from wide open rolling country side and 1km away from the lake with endless running trails and dirt tracks! The apartment complex also has its own Bbq area and outdoor pool – great for recovery days!
The first week here was a heat wave in Madison, upwards of 35 degrees and 80%+ humidity most days – a bit of a shock to the system but great for training and mental toughness! It made my 29km birthday run a good challenge! We had a couple of solid weeks training in Madison before our first race at Racine 70.3. There was no tapering for this one – we were both using the race as part of the build-up for our bigger Ironman races later in the season. We were lucky enough to stay with a great home stay family who were an awesome support to us on race week – including a tour of the bike course and some fantastic meals. They also came out to cheer us on during the race and made for a really enjoyable day. Thanks Kruse family! We were happy with how the day went, it is always good to test out a few things and find out where you are at. The race gave us an extra dose of confidence for what is to come and also a few things to focus on in the next block of training.
We are back in Madison after Racine and have been lucky to meet heaps of great people. We have been going along to a Friday morning swim in a private quarry lake with one of the local tri-clubs – it’s a beautiful lake to swim in – so clean and fresh and great to get in some open water swimming training! At one of the swim sessions we were introduced to Will Smith – a kiwi triathlete who has been living here for a few years. We spent last weekend out at his place and joined him and a few other local pros for some awesome riding and trail running. It’s a fantastic place to train in the summer and it looks like a fun place to train in the winter too – they turn the trails into snow-shoeing runs through the forest!
Next up for me is Ironman Mont Tremblant in Quebec, Canada on August 18th. This is my main race for the season over here and it is a good opportunity to earn more points towards a starting spot in the Mens Pro Field at the World Champs in Hawaii. It is the North-American Championship race so has a 4000 point value – that makes it a high scoring points race attracting a solid field of Male Pros. The course looks stunning and suits my strengths – I can’t wait!! It has a nice fresh water lake swim – hilly 2-loop bike course and an awesome run with a large portion of it on off-road trails.. Larisa has already qualified for Hawaii and wont be racing here. She will be using the trip to Canada to make the most of some riding and run training in the mountains! (and to give me extra support – and a hurry-up – on race day!)
The climate and terrain in Madison has been perfect for our training, and having a bit more time for recovery and all the little extra things is really benefiting us. The town is full of like-minded active people with training facilities all over the place, the University of Wisconsin has a large amount of rowing, running and swimming competitors so there are always people out early every morning which is good to see!
A big couple of weeks training is ahead of us now before we fly up to Canada. We have been lucky enough to be partnered with another homestay for race week and it sounds like they have a private lake to swim in. We look forward to meeting another great family and it will be one more cool experience to add to the trip so far. I hope everyone back home in NZ is having a great time as winter embarks and that all your trainig is going to plan! We will touch base again before the race in Quebec!
The weekend before Christmas was the Rotorua Half Ironman.. This is one of my favourite races because of the awesome team who organise it, and also the challenging and enjoyable course – The perfect clean lake, rolling bike course and a varied terrain run! I was interested to see how the body would perform after a hard season overseas and competing in the Hawaii Ironman just 6 weeks prior.
The weather on race morning was nice and calm after a very wet and windy night… It stayed this way for the swim, then we realised that this was the calm before the storm! I had a solid swim in the crystal clear waters of the Blue Lake exiting in 3rd position in a time of 26:39.
There wasnt the usual strong winds around but it was probably one of the wettest bike legs Ive ever done. (At one stage the water level was half way up my 90mm front wheel!) The pace wasnt super fast but kept steady throughout and you had to keep the concentration up, I was happy that I rode strong and came into t2 just behind a group of about 8 guys around 5 mins down on race leader Keiran Doe.. Exiting transition with a bike split just over 2hr 30mins.
The run track around the lake was incredibly muddy, this made for a technical first section and I was happy when we made it out onto the road , I ran strong through the out-and-back gravel section, and when I saw how close the front few guys were, I knew I had to keep the pressure on.. I passed 3rd and 2nd place at the 11km mark just after the totem pole turnaround. Keiran was 5min 30sec ahead and I knew I wouldn’t make this time up on him with only 10kms to go! I kept pushing and managed to pull back about another 40secs on the last lap in the mud and finished 4:50 behind 1st place with a run of 1hr 21mins.
Enough to win me a big soft toy Trophy for 2nd place 🙂
Thanks to Shane Hooks for the great race, it was a good turnout and gets busier and busier every year! A nice cheap entry fee with all proceeds going to the Rotorua Hospice! I will definitely be back next year.
I nearly didn’t race this event as I had entered it before qualifying for Hawaii, and it was less than 2 weeks before the Ironman in Kona. My build up had been going well and I thought a good ‘hit out’ just before the World Championships would work well as I had gone well in Ironman France having raced a half Ironman 2 weeks prior.
We were lucky to have a couple of weeks training on the course before race day so got to know the challenging bike course pretty well. The weather has been so dry and hot.. Central France has just had a heat wave for a few weeks and we had some days well over 40 degrees!
The course included a simple 2km lake swim, a very hilly challenging bike course with awesome scenery, passing through 9 small villages (with some interesting cobbled sections) and a fast 3 loop run course through Aix en Provence town centre and local park.
The Pros lead off and age groupers were supposed to start 5 mins behind. A large group of age groupers false started which was unable to be controlled so the rest of the field had no choice but to get swimming! I managed not to be too far back and worked my way into a small pack of swimmers who were in clear water out to the left, I exited the swim with one of my fastest swim splits in 23:56
Once out on the bike it felt like I was losing time all day as the flying French men were super fast up the climbs, I settled in and kept pushing hard through the tough flat sections and screamed past alot on the long technical descents. I came into T2 clocking a 2:35 split for the bike.
The run felt great straight away and I started making up for lost time on the bike, passing alot of athletes who were fading after the tough ride. I wanted to push hard all the way as this was going to be a good test before the big race in 2 weeks, I ended up with the quickest run for the age group and a P.B of 1:14.
I finished in 4:19 which was good enough for 4th in age, but the main thing was that I was feeling good and strong to attack the Hawaii course.
This was one of my favourite races so far.. Challenge really look after the athletes and put on a great event!
Lake Walschee was perfect conditions for race morning and the swim went well after a physical deep water start.
Swim – 27:05
The 2 loop bike course was fairly quick even tho there was over 900m of climbing, it helped that there were alot of strong German cyclists to pace off. The route went through steep farm land and narrow private lanes which stretched the groups out. It was a crystal clear day and the temperature was a bit cold for the start of the bike, needing arm warmers especially on the descents. By T2 the sun was out and the temperature was up close to 30 degrees for the run.
Bike – 2:23
Onto the run, 3 loops around the scenic lake side trail. Lots to look at and a very vocal crowd helps the run fly by and before I knew it I was coming down the big Challenge finish area with the long red carpet
This Half Ironman was the inaugural event for Italy, situated at the Adriatic seaside in small town called Pescara. The Italians know how to do the ‘Pasta Parties’ really well with fresh local produce, it was the tastiest one ive ever experienced!
The Ocean swim was inside a break water and was a 1km ‘out and back’ along the shore. It was a wave start so was quite hard to tell who was ahead of who once we got out onto the bike. Quite a hilly course through the Abruzzo county side and finishing with a 3 lap beach front run along the promenade in the stifling heat.
I had a solid swim exiting in 26 minutes and was able to get into a good group of cyclists to pace off. I only took my TT bike away and it was soon clear why most of the field had chosen to race on road bikes.. Some steep inclines early on split up the field but I was able to regain some lost time coming into a nice strong head wind on the last flatter part of the loop.
The run quickly became congested as everyone converged on the 3 lap course, I was happy with my 1:21 half marathon in the 32+degree heat after the challenging bike. This was enough to earn 2nd in age group and fastest run split.