Having finished 2nd at Challenge Shepparton in 2015 I was really looking forward to the opportunity of improving upon this result. Following my win at the Bellevue 5150 the week prior in the Philippines I spent 72hrs at home in Brisbane before once again getting onto the plane this time bound for Melbourne. In the days leading into the race I started to feel quite good physically and felt excited for race day.
Race morning provided some challenging conditions with 12-degree temperatures. I put in a decent warm up to prepare the body for a fast swim and when the gun fired this meant that I could really lay down a solid tempo from the get go. The ‘M’ shaped swim course was very simple to navigate and I found myself leading all the way to the far turn marker where ex-training partner Dan Wilson took up the pace setting. Having trained together previously for many years we both adopted the unspoken plan of swapping off the lead at each turn buoy. Sharing the work up front worked to our advantage and we exited the water side by side with a healthy 70 second lead on the chasing group.
I had a quick transition and headed out onto the 90km bike course in first and spent the next 25kms swapping the lead with Dan.
Just before the 45km turn around Lachlan Kerin bridged the gap to Dan and myself to make it a lead group of three. At the 50km point I found myself really struggling to hold my usual power output and slowly dropped behind. With 15kms left to go Matt Burton came past and I came into transition in 4th feeling totally gone.
Hitting the run leg I tried to keep thinking positively and just going about putting together the best half marathon that I could. The three-lap run course meant that it was easy to spot if you were gaining or losing time on the other competitors. By the end of the second lap I knew that I didn’t have the leg speed to run myself back onto the podium. The final 6kms were a huge effort to hold on and with 1km left to go I unfortunately lost 4th position. With nothing left in the body I just tried to hold onto 5th place and the final prize money position. I only just held off a fast finishing Levi Maxwell in a sprint finish to take out 5th place.
In all honesty my result at Challenge Shepparton was a very hard one to process. Going into the race I felt as if mentally and physically I was in great shape however the final result just didn’t reflect this on the day.
*Images Getty Images*