After taking 3rd at the Noumea International Triathlon a few weeks ago I knew that I was swimming, riding and running pretty well. I didn’t feel ‘fast’ in Noumea but I did feel strong so I hoped that this would transfer over to the half distance that faced me in Vietnam. The training in between these two events had been going well and with a strong field assembled for the inaugural Ironman 70.3 Vietnam I was looking forward to testing the legs and having a crack at the podium. With scorching temperatures on race day in the high 30 degrees C and the ‘feels like’ temperature closer to 50 degrees C I knew that this race would test a bigger athlete such as myself. More often than not it is the smaller muscle mass athletes who performance better in the heat which means that hot races are not usually my strong point. Add that to a pinched nerve in my back just before flying out and I knew Vietnam would take a calculated effort to get the performance I wanted.
Race day approached and I felt ready to go and lay my cards on the table. During my pre race swim warm up I noticed that there was a large sand bank to the left of the start line that I planned to take full advantage of. In assessing the swim start area it looked like the quickest line to the first right turn buoy would be to the right of the start area. I was one of the last names to be called out to choose my starting position and it came as a big surprise to me that every one of the pro men except for Trenzo Bonozi, Justin Granger and myself choose the right side of the beach. When the gun went I ran into the water and took full advantage of where I had started. While the majority of the other professional athletes started towards the right side of the start line were swimming I kept running along the sand bank in knee deep water putting at least 20 seconds into the rest of the field by the time I hit the first right turn buoy. Once I was out in front I settled into an easier pace and let Josh Amburger come to the front and take up the pace keen to conserve my efforts. I sat very comfortably on the feet with Clayton Fettell just behind making up a group of 3. Being 6ft4 tall has its advantages when coming out of the swim and I was able to stand up earlier than Josh and Clayton to lead out of the water.
I headed out onto the bike feeling good and ready to ride solidly. Clayton soon took the lead and really put the hammer down over the first few kilometers. Trenzo then took over the lead before Tim Reed managed to bridge the gap to the lead pack making it a group of 5. The ride was pretty solid not to mention hot and I just tried my best to stay cool. I chose before the race to bring my S-Works Evade helmet which helped to keep me cooler over wearing a closed in TT helmet.
Heading into transition and getting off the bike the legs actually felt quite good and I was really forward to the final 21.1km run. This feeling lasted about 1km into the run before the heat caught up to me and I totally fell apart. It was at this moment where I was fighting with myself just to keep going and give the run whatever I could. Every time I tried to lift the pace my body refused.
Vietnam was a hard performance to swallow but I can honestly say I gave the race all I had on the day and left nothing else out there. I couldn’t have done anything differently on the race course and I am satisfied with the fact that I hung tough and got through to the finish line.