The beginnings of Autumn had brought some chilly weather to Boulder that would have been mild for Boulder locals but had me putting on every item of cycling clothing I owned as I shivered out the door. Getting out of the plane in Cancun, Mexico felt like I had I had stepped out of the freezer into the furnace. In reality I’m sure that I’m greatly exaggerating the Cancun heat and humidity however I find that if I haven’t done specific heat training I tend to really suffer.
After the ripping swim pace of Olympic Distance racing I was surprised to find myself at the front of the swim over the first few hundred metres and having been too cool for race briefing I had no idea where to go and lead everyone in the wrong direction until a jet ski rounded us all up and corrected where were heading instantly putting me from the front to near the back of the swim pack.
I steadily progressed towards the front of the swim again until near the end I surged to try and get some free time should I have a sloppy transition. Unfortunately I sat on the Hungarian swim leader Balasz Csoke. Unfortunately both Balasz and I separated from the group and swam an extra buoy meaning we got out at the back of the group. Thankfully with a 1km run to transition I was able to move back into the mix and hit the bike where I wanted to be.
Andy Boecherer, European 70.3 champion was incredibly strong from the outset sitting on the front of the group and really drove the pace. It would seem that Mexican non-drafting rules are far more lenient then the U.S although I was proud that Andy recognised after the race that I did my best to keep 12 metres behind him throughout the ride. With such a flat ride and rather small gaps between bikes I knew it was going to be hard to get away from everyone on the bike. I noticed on the first lap how much everyone slowed picking up drinks as to have even 30kms without adequate hydration could end a day with the way the temp and humidity was rising. With my speedfil hydrations system holding more than enough fluid to skip an aid station I knew this was an opportunity to really split up everyone. Thankfully Andy had the same thinking and as we hit the aid station Andy took off, I quickly swapped the lead with James Hadley also drilling the front until and we were away.
The final 30kms only five of us were left, Andy, Hadley, Balasz, a pleasant Colombian chap and myself. While I felt like I still had another gear on the bike should Andy try to get away I was also getting very hot. Wearing black aero helmet with the air vent blocked for superior aerodynamics was not a smart option.
1kms to go and James Hadley moved to the front and hit an unidentified object sending him veering straight off the road flipping straight over his handlebars. I was torn as to whether I should be helping him as he is a great mate but I saw the gleam of his whitened teeth appear as he stood up out of the bushes so I pressed on.
Andy and I gapped the other guys early out of transition and I felt strong but hot. The aid stations were not really ready for us as we cruised through and after much yelling and explaining I found it easier to go over to the tables and select whatever I could hold.
By 8kms I knew my core temperature was too high. I was breathing heavily despite a pace that I should find very comfortable. Andy steadily started to gap me while I desperately tried to cool myself at aid stations however with only warm water and gels it wasn’t really helping and my pace continued to slow. By 10kms I was desperately trying to keep jogging between aid stations and I could see that everyone had made a lot of time up on me. I resigned to the fact that I had to get my core temp back down or the rest of the run was going to be a creeping jog so I spent a good amount of time walking through the next few aid stations running as much water as I could over my body. I ran carrying 3-4 small bags of water (an alternative to cups offered at some races) steadily trickling each back of fluid over my head.
Finally at about 15kms the aid stations had now been delivered ice. I was amazed that only one athlete, Olympian Daniel Fontana had passed me and I was still in the mix for a decent pay day. So with the ice stuffed into my hat, down my top and budgie smugglers I was finally able to get back up to pace and finish in 3rd place. I was proud and relieved that despite feeling like my day was done at 10kms I had toughed it out and held on for a pleasing result. Andy Bocherer had shown that he is in tremendous form for Hawaii World Championships winning with a run that would have been fast for cool conditions. Fontana finished 2nd and amazingly James Hadley recovered from a big crash to finish 7th place only fading from a potential fourth right near the end of the race.