Wednesday, 8 May 2013

70.3 US Pro Champs St George - 19th

St George was going to be my biggest test thus far over the 70.3 distance. This was not just because of the 53 professional men racing and arguably the strongest field ever assembled outside of the 70.3 World Championships but also due to the fact that the course was quite possibly the toughest 70.3 course in the world. Looking at the start list it was clear to me that the race would be on from start to finish. Being so young in comparison to the other pro men racing (I was the 4th youngest in a field of 53) I was admittedly nervous but felt like I could consolidate a good result.

Race day quickly approached and I was greeted with the usually 4:30am alarm. I downed my usual banana and honey on toast, dextro sports drink and a dextro carbo bar and headed out the door. The course consisted of 2 different transitions, one at the swim exit of the lake and the other in town. This meant dropping off the saucony fastwitch shoes in town before heading out on the bus to the lake.

After setting up T2 and a small warm up I headed down to the lake for the race start. The water was freezing measuring just 15.5 degrees C (60F). I positioned myself at the start right next to gun swimmer Andy Potts and once the gun went off just tried to stay on his feet. I dropped back ever so slightly but didn't really face to many issues and exiting the water in 9th position. Due to the cold water I spent the extra time to put the socks on heading out onto the bike leg. Onto the bike I wanted to establish myself at the front of the group and thus moved up just behind Bevan Docherty to ensure that I wasn't stuck behind many of the 25-30 strong group which all seemed to head out together.
The first section of the ride wasn't that fast but as soon as we hit the hills a few miles later it was a different story all together. The group really splinted over the first few hills and I quickly found myself in the front group of 8 with just 3 other athletes up the road from us. The bike course was totally crazy with only the first 7km's being flat and the rest either up or down hills. It's by far the hardest course I have ever raced on. On the final long climb up snow canyon I ever so slightly lost touch with the group and spent the final stretch down the highway after the climb hitting 60-80kph+ chasing back up to group. I headed into T2 just 20 seconds down and despite the hard bike felt quite fresh in the legs.

The first 6kms of the run was straight up hill and hearing IM World Champion Craig Alexander cheering my name and offering some words of advice really helped spur me on. The entire run course was really relentless with zero flat sections. At the run turn I could see that I was headed for a top 15 finish if I held onto my current position. A few of the fast runners from the 2nd chase pack ran past me just after the turn around and despite trying my hardest to stay with them I just couldn't keep up with their pace.

Over the final 6kms down hill to the finish I was cramping worse than ever and found those final few miles the hardest of the entire race. I crossed the line totally stuffed! I don think that I've ever run that hard for 19th in my life but I can honestly say that this was the hardest race, over the hardest course against the fastest athletes that I have ever done. The results list showed the toll that this course took on the pro mens field with just 38 from 53 athletes even finishing the race.

Mid way through the bike & post race thoughts 

For me it's another great result and a step into the right direction.

Next up in Florida 70.3 in 2 weeks time.

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