I’ve been forced to face the facts. I’m a bit of a tri geek. Not a tri-tech geek, or an avid reader of the brutal triathlon forums but I certainly do love the history of the sport. The Nepean Triathlon is one of only a few races where the organisers truly recognise and respect the history of their event. The website clearly promotes the list of athletes that have won this race some of whom are true legends of the sport such as Greg Welch, Brad Beven, Tim Bently, Spot Anderson just to name a few. In recent times there have also been some successful current guys- Sexton, Jacobs and more, names that have really built on the prestige of the event. Due to my tri history nerdiness I really wanted to put up a fight in this race not just to race the guys this year but because of the well documented results of past races to also see how my times compared to the many other athletes that have raced around the Penrith arena.
I sat in a shuttle bus post Hy-Vee this year still coughing my lungs up after falling fairly ill prior to the event but not feeling too sorry for myself as I was stoked to be able to chat to Greg Bennet about how he won the race. It became instantly clear that it’s not by chance or pure talent that Greg wins the big races. He strategically analyzes his competition, the course, his equipment choices and his tactics. He follows a very well rehearsed mental plan. I’m sure all the greats do. I’ve tried to learn from this and have made a lot more effort into following a race plan since I’ve got back to Oz.
I knew I didn’t want this one to come down to a running race. I had run a hard 21kms only 7 days prior digging deep to try and catch Clayton Fettell at Port 70.3. I figured Mitch Robins and Cam Good could out run me by about 30 seconds if I stayed with them on the bike and saved my legs. So after studying the course maps and noticing how technical the bike course was I decided that my best chance for a win was to take some risks on the technical corners coupled with maximum effort acceleration and fingers crossed I would start the run with some breathing space. I also had one person in mind that I wanted to come with me, young Matty Williams. Karl, from Trizone had given me the heads up of this guys prowess on the bike, I wanted him on my team as having one person to take some of the air resistance load 7 meters ahead of you, even for short respites is very refreshing.
I got out of the swim where I needed to be. My transition wasn’t too bad but sloppy compared to the guys that have been racing the ITU format races. A strap on my shoe broke so I rode with one foot not strapped in but I soon caught the main group and stayed near the front for the first few kilometres. As soon as we hit the corners I went for it, as did Matty Williams. I didn’t look back, I have had more seconds then a clock, I wanted a win or to at least go down happy I had taken a chance. Joey Lampe, the nicest man in triathlon, was up the road by a fair margin but by about 8kms we had reeled him in and at the U-turns I tried to really rev up Matty and Joey to really work to keep the dieting ITU pencils from gaining an time.
I saw the gap was growing so on the 2nd lap I tried to lift the pace even more and Joey dropped off leaving Matty Williams and I entering transition with a small gap on Joey and fair gap on the other contenders. I hit the run and knew it wasn’t going to be pretty. I felt heavy and my breathing was laboured. I’m not sure whether it was the hard ride or the race last week but despite the margin, I knew if Mitch was running well it was going to be very close. Finally at about 5kms I started to find some bounce and felt my pace start to lift. Mitch passed Joey who was moving well. Joey has the fastest run pace per body weight of any BFG (big friendly giant) I know. Mitch then further closed the gap on me but thankfully the finish line came soon enough and I crossed in first place. I wasn’t even slightly bummed to miss out on the bonus $2000 for beating the first female (Nepean has a handicap start based on the average male and female finishing times for previous years) because as soon as I knew Melissa Rollison was racing it was going to be near impossible to close an 11 minute gap especially since Mel normally outruns many of the elite men, which she did. Big Congrats to Mel, it’s scarey how good she is.
I’m very proud to have pulled off the race I wanted and even prouder to look through results online and see that my race stacks up as the quickest of the available results (goes back to 2000). Special thanks to my great friends Wicksy, Pyza and Ky making a surprise journey out to the distant land of Penrith. To my greatest love, the Moncat, thank you also for your constant love and support.