Swim: 24:20 Bike 2:13:14 Run 1:16:46 Total: 3:56:30 Place: 4th
Ironman Yeppoon 70.3 has officially been run and won! I am not sure if I should actually use that phrase… I didn’t win. I did a Steph Rice. No, not flash my bits at American Basketballers, but the perennial 4th Place Steph Rice. Apologies for this race report being a little delayed. In an attempt to sell myself as a martyr, my post race recovery consisted of jumping on a plane Sunday night so I could start work at 7.30am Monday morning. That trend has pretty much continued through this week.
Firstly, in response to a blog from a small little bloke down South (read here), I just wanted to clear something up.
Yeppoon is one of those idyllic Queensland-only places. A secret paradise that not many people know about it. Not many people have been there. However, literally the distance of a ‘Cooper Cronk State of Origin Game game winning drop goal’ from Rockhampton, you have Yeppoon. The equivalent of such a place in NSW would probably be renamed Sydney. The locals are lovely and down-to-earth. Unlike our lesser folk of Northern NSW, Yeppoon maybe classed equally as rural or remote, but they are definitely not the forgotten, under privileged ones. The locals do speak with a slight “twang” in their voice. But they are definitely the tones of a carefree and relaxed attitude, and not the squeels of people from Northern NSW as their State Government screws them in another round of Budget cuts.
Anyway, as the State of Origin score over the last SEVEN years has suggested, Queenslanders are fairly resilient. I digress. (Gilsey may also start to take offence right about now)
The race is organized every year by X-Tri, the love child of Nick Munting. Now in it’s 11th year of existence, Yeppoon has become one of the most popular long-course races on the Australian Calendar. It also has a very unique element to it where everyone stays in the same spot. Think Wildflower but 5 star with slippery slides, $5 flat whites, and angry partners who find themselves in their definition of “lock-up”.
Apart from a rather stiff south easterly, race day was absolutely perfect. The swim was fairly straightforward. Literally. It was one of those fabulous (insert sarcasm) point to point swims. Next year I will most likely just take a tent and pitch it next to the swim start. I will get an extra 2 hours sleep, plus I won’t have to knock back two gels when walking up the beach.
The swim for me was relatively comfortable, hiding in the main group the whole way. The only real difficulty came when running up the beach and having to try and ascend a sand dune that resembled the Travelator for the Gladiator fans out there. This is a next to impossible task in neoprene. I’m sure there must be a few competitors still down the bottom of the dune trying to get up.
With my position following the swim I was feeling very confident. The unusual prospect of starting the bike already in such a good position, and having talked up in past blogs about my newfound strength on the bike, I was almost going to start high-fiving the spectators on the way out of transition. How quickly that changed. I think the only time I wasn’t at the back of the group was when Reedy miscalculated the bike mounting line by a few hundred meters and had to be asked to get off. A good example of how good I was going was when I found myself head down, chewing stem, trying to get as much power into my pedals as possible, only to look up with Matty White free-wheeling the Shiv whilst consuming his packed meal from one of the compartments on those red beasts. I tried to be optimistic, and hope that it was only the dreaded “first 10k” shunting effect. However, at 20km I was still grovelling, and finally got blown out the back from a tag team effort from Matty and Reedy that Stonecold would have been proud of. I wasn’t sure if I felt violated or blown, or both. Unfortunately there was nothing I could do apart from limit my losses. I eventually came good at about 80km, now about a minute behind Mitch “Steam Train” Anderson, 3 minutes behind Matty, Reedy, and Matt Bailey, and a further 3 minutes behind Sam Betten.
To say I was somewhat annoyed heading onto the run would be an understatement. However, one thing I have learnt since trying my hand at long-course racing is the continual ups and downs you go through. A race can quickly bite you in the… rear, but can also just as quickly turn into something very promising. My main aim for the run was to be conservative at the start and build into it and, more importantly, nail my nutrition. I have been very open about my difficulties with the half marathon at the end of a 70.3. I may be able to run a sub 1.09 off the gun, but my track record following a swim and a bike has been abysmal at best. With my strategy in place, I gradually picked up Mitch Anderson and finally Matt Bailey. I could hear Matty White was just ahead by the screams of female fans and a very over-excited female race announcer. Unfortunately, I ran out of distance in catching Matty, but finished a very credible and motivating 4th place. It wasn’t quite the position I wanted, but behind three high quality and very professional athletes, I am happy.
Congratulations to Tim Reed for an amazing win and one of the most impressive runs I have ever seen. 1hr 12 mins around a sandy course is mind-blowing. 2nd place Sam Betten made the race, put more on the line than a Matty White Vegas trip, and won a lot of respect along the way. Finally, Matty White is just the Pro’s Pro. He knows how to get it done, even after a week-long bender.
I am excited to announce I will be heading to the US in September. I am confirmed to race Ironman Branson 70.3 on September 23rd and Ironman Pocono Mountains 70.3 on September 30th. There may be one more race TBA, however it will still only be a three-week trip maximum. Later in the year I intend to head to Sheperton, Noosa and Canberra as well.
A final thanks must go to Scody, Nutrend Australia, On-Running, Blue Seventy, Back in Motion Mermaid Waters and Volosport. Thank you for all your support, especially over the last three months whilst I have gone MIA trying to survive my work-training balance. I genuinely appreciate what each of these organizations do and the potential they see in me.
I look forward to sharing more good news with you over the coming months.