These two Iconic races are the longest running Ironman events down this end of the world, with each of them having had their 30th anniversaries within the last couple of years – there is a lot of history and that is why they have such a great turnout of competitors and spectators come race day! They both have very passionate communities with locals who embrace the event and show massive support on the day!
The swim courses couldn’t be more different – Taupo with the crisp crystal clear lake and straight forward course, to Port Macquarie’s warm murky salt water zigzagging its way through the yachts and with an interesting mid swim exit climb up over some stairs and a weir – but the bike and run have a lot of similarities – a rough rolling bike course and a multi-lap flat run with a few short hills. This year both of the Professional fields were stacked full of very quick guys and multiple Ironman Champions, as the Asia Pacific Champs at Melbourne had been cancelled – these were the 2 races that were the next closest in the schedule and location wise.
Below is a brief rundown of how both of these races went and the progression in my training and racing over the last season!
Ironman New Zealand.
I have made great gains in my swim over the last year and was looking forward to positioning myself right in the mix, rather than chasing from the word go! – this showed through with a personal best swim of 48:30 and I was comfortable leading out the chase pack.
You always know you are in good company and setting up a solid race when you are no further than 50m away from the legend himself Cam Brown for the first 4.5hrs of the race! We worked bloody hard in the first 45 kms and managed to bridge right up to the guys at the front of the race who had exited the water a few minutes ahead of us. The ride was another personal best for me – clocking 4hr 32mins. Just shy of a 40km/hr average on those Taupo roads is quick going by any ones standards – Unless your name is Dougal Allen who posted an impressive new bike course record of 4hr 22mins!
Getting off the bike after the big effort for 180kms, I was pleased to still be able to execute a well paced marathon of 3hr 3mins and run my way in to 9th place with a time of 8hrs 28mins.
The recovery after a big race is now getting better and quicker after each one – I think the body is now used to backing up the big training blocks and the Ironman race day isn’t too much of a shock to the system. The week after Ironman New Zealand was spent in Rarotonga for our honeymoon and was such good timing to enjoy some downtime in the sun and nice food!
Ironman Port Macquarie was next on the cards and training ramped right back up to get ready for this one.
Ironman Port Macquarie
I knew the swim pace at the front of this race was going to be furious as the level and depth of top notch swimmers even out did the one’s at Taupo. Once again – after the initial 500m max sprint, I had found myself at the front of the first chase pack and was quite comfortable and happy to lead the way through the inlet and canal swim. Sighting was very important and I stuck to my line and this helped pick up a couple of others who had drifted off the back of the fish up the front. Exiting in 46:50, this was a new PB although was still 2:30 back from the front of the race – showing how important the swim in an Ironman race is.
I had made the decision to ride slightly less aggressive than at Taupo, as the 2nd lap of the bike is where guys really feel the pinch as the wind picks up and the rough roads start to take their toll. I managed to negative split the 2nd lap of the bike by 20seconds although in hindsight I probably should have attacked the first lap a bit harder. Off the bike in 4hr 45mins but this was a bit too far back to make decent inroads to the guys heading on to the run.
Posting one of the quickest marathons of the day – 3rs flat – was enough to bridge up and pass a few guys, but I didn’t execute the run I know I am capable of. I crossed the line in 6th place in a time of 8hrs 36mins
This season has given me a lot more confidence. Each and every race has stepped up and the consistent improvement is still heading in the right direction. Each discipline is even across the board and now I am only a small percentage off the front of some big races and am looking forward to challenging the podium in the upcoming events as I continue to build and lay down the blocks in the long term plan. I am still learning at each and every race and now feel like I can RACE the full 8.5hrs right at threshold, and will keep pushing the boundaries – its exciting to see how far the body, and MIND can go!
A massive thanks must go out to my team of sponsors and supporters! Every one of you make a huge difference and keep me striving to perform week in and week out – and to my athletes that I coach, I am still learning something each race to give back the knowledge and experience that I have absorbed through out the last 22 Ironman races.
Keep up to date with my training and racing plans :
Follow on Twitter – @CochraneSimon
Instagram – @CochraneSimon
Athlete page on Facebook – SimonCochraneIronman
Embrace the winter of training – Consistency is key!
P.S – fire me a message if you want to talk about some coaching options – now is the perfect time to get committed for the summer season…. not 2 weeks before it starts 🙂