|Photo cred: Lucas Wroe Photography|
Last year, Cairns was my first 70.3 race, and Pete Jacobs made me feel like a schoolboy after crushing the field by an almost embarrassing margin. This year I returned after making some serious training changes, and although last year I believe I was a faster runner, this time round I felt that I was a much faster triathlete.
It's no secret that the level of competition in 70.3 racing has increased significantly over the past 12 months with a flurry of ITU athletes trying their hand at 70.3 racing. There is no longer a chance to cherry pick races, especially in Australia, and Cairns was no different, with two duel olympians in Brad Kahlefeldt and Courtney Atkinson , Ironman World Champion Pete Jacobs, and multiple 70.3 winners toeing the line. However, I relish the opportunity to compete against these guys and I enjoy being in the thick of the action, mixing it up with some of the biggest names in Australian triathlon.
Race morning rolled around with a 6:40am start in the murky waters off the Cairns pier, which was croc heaven according to our hotel receptionist who must have taken us as backpackers rather than elite triathletes. I felt good in the swim, despite our wave not being allowed a warm up, bar the 30m swim to the startline. The swim was uneventful and I was comfortable sitting in the top few guys following feet and exited in 5th place.
|Sticksy forgetting where he put his bike in transition ;) - Photo Cred: Trizone|
Onto the bike we headed out on the Captain Cook Highway and there was about 10 athletes within about 20 seconds of each other. Courtney Atkinson and Graham O'Grady had a slight advantage and Casey Munro made a move and bridged up to them dragging another athlete up with him. I was a little complacent here and stayed with Pete Jacobs and a few other guys, but I knew it was going to be a long day in the heat and spending your tickets early could be disastrous later on.
The bike course is really scenic out towards the turn around as your ride along a deceptively hilly coast road with great views of the ocean. Alas, I was not in any state to enjoy the aesthetically pleasing coastline as I was too busy chewing my stem trying to stay with Pete as we rode into a solid headwind for the remaining 30k. The lead group of 4 was joined by Tim Reed (who's biking prowess was on show) as the now 5 man lead group established about 2:30min advantage over Pete and myself onto the run.
I started the run quite conservatively and Brad Kahlefeldt came past me like I was standing still, but I just tried to keep Pete in view. The run in Cairns is pretty mind numbing. You run through cane fields and then out onto a highway for a point to point run back into town. The weather gods where serving up their finest selection of wind and heat, adding additional flavour to an already brutal platter of pain and suffering. I got in some early nutrition and set into a pace I knew I could build upon. I started in 8th and worked my way through to 6th by about the 15km mark. I went through patches of feeling good and bad, but was happy with how I was progressing. I saw Graham O'Grady a few hundred meters ahead with about 3km to go and my mind went back to Busselton a month prior were I was caught in a sprint finish. I really didn't want to be in that situation again. My legs were cooked, but thankfully not as well done as Graham's and I passed him and soon after crossed the finish in 5th, happy to be at the finish line, and happy to be able to post another top 5 in a solid field. My time this year was 10 minutes faster than last year and although I still have a way to go to reach that top podium step, I am happy with the progress and will just keep chipping away.
|Good Mug - Photo Cred: Trizone|
Thanks to the support from everyone and my especially to my sponsors. I am always very grateful of the overwhelming support I receive and its great to have companies such as Shotz Nutrition, Scody, Hawkesbury Physio, 3D bike fit and Volosport behind me.
I'm going to have an easy week or two now to get on top of some niggles and give the body a rest, both mentally and physically. Next race is probably going to be Yeppoon 70.3 and then onto Sunshine Coast. I have decided to stay in Australia this winter as I can continue racing pretty much year round and I also want to continue with my tertiary education rather than deferring at this point.