I was nervous. 10 long hours squished between the BGFG, Joey Lampe and Luke Martin. Our beat up $800 Commodore station wagon with one of those stupid mufflers that actually amplifies the sound of your engine bellowed it’s way into the car park of the Yeppoon Mecure Resort. A sigh of relief all round that the old beast got us there.
Despite our best efforts to learn the language of the Queensland people, we had to resign to the fact we were too highly evolved. Thankfully, we understood enough of the hand signals and grunting to find our rooms and I was pleased to be sharing with the mayor of Adelaide, the honourable Matty White.
In a sport that requires a fair degree of selfishness, it’s hard to beat this race for winning back some brownie points as it’s a definitely a family friendly race with great pools, a beautiful beach just a lazy stroll away and a resort that doesn’t leave you wanting for much more. I rang my wife back at home and told her all about it.
My last race here was in 2009 where I raced in the open/pro category. While I was still racing age-group for most races the prize money was low enough that anyone could jump into that category. It was on that occasion that I first met Matty White 7kms into the run, when we were running side by side, at the front of the race. Still fairly new to the sport and an arrogant little turd, instead of focusing on how I was going to beat the fine specimen next to me, I started planning my winning speech, running through all the people I was going to thank, including Tim Berkel, who we were just ahead of, and who had really taken me under his wing in the early years helping me out with equipment, training advice and much much more. By 8 kms, my balloon sized head quickly deflated, I could barely run and both Matty White and Tim Berkel dropped me like a bad smell as I slunk home well off the pace.
Fast-forward to 2012, a lot more training and respect for my competitors and I was ready to give it a really solid nudge to see how my prep for Vegas 70.3 was coming along.
Light winds had whipped up some chop and swell for the 1.9km swim making things slightly more challenging for competitors. However, any nerves that the pros were feeling were soon quelled as Mitch Anderson looked across at Joe Lampe on the start line and repeated the timeless line from ‘Anchorman’ “I love lamp”. Instead of thinking about the race, I started thinking about how good the Anchorman sequel is going to be.
On that note we sprinted into the swell and I’m not sure whether it was the irregular nature of the waves or the sand surface underneath but it was like a reverse war scene where my fellow soldiers were charging the water (instead of the land) and dropping left right and centre. Bemused at every body falling over themselves, I just went on my merry way and started swimming. Within a few strokes I noted that Joe Lampe and Sam Better were still running and only up to the knees so I tried to do the same only to find that I was chest deep bringing up a rage of small man syndrome for years of midget torment. Sam, Matt Bailey and Joey were off. I raged my way through the first few hundred metres bringing back a couple of faster swimmers and started to relax as the main pack settled into a rhythm.
After suffering punctures in both Phuket 70.3 and Racine 70.3, where I felt I was poised to have very good days, I took no chances for this race and had wrapped up a bundle of tyres, changing equipment, sealant, a disc adaptor, scalpel, Swiss army knife, matches and a one man tent. While I was tucking all that up the front of my tri jersey the chase group got away. I got on the bike and was relieved to know that my pegs were going to work for me. I caught the group, rode to the front and set about winding in Joey Lampe and Matt Bailey. Joey, being one of my major concerns in the race as he has the potential to seriously dominate when he is healthy. Within 10kms we had reeled them in and the pace became leisurely with the usual tactics being played out that are so common in Aussie races.
As the ride progressed I was growing concerned. Sam Betten was riding really well and putting time into us on every lap and I knew if the bike was easy, guys like Johnny Poulson have the running pedigree to run away from everyone. I was planning an attack at the turn on the 3rd of the 5laps and thankfully Matty White had exactly the same mindset. As he passed me he yelled “we need to get rid of Poulson” to which I replied “let’s whack them at the next U turn” which got me thinking about why I used the expression ‘whack’. I decided to blame FOB’s ‘Tripod’ podcast where the term is thrown an average of 96 times an episode and must have subconsciously seeped into my brain. Strange term considering that when I was a gangster it meant to kill somebody and when I was at high school it meant something completely different. While my annoying brain was considering all this, the Mayor had launched and I reeled in my thoughts and did the old sling shot 2nd launch and the group was split with Matt Bailey the only guy coming with us. Joey Lampe then pulled the pin, weeks of a cold and not much training catching up with him. We kept the speed high for the remainder of the ride gaining some good time and stopping the time loss to Betten.
Informed in T2 that Betten had about 3.5 minutes, I did the maths and figured that big bugger should be pretty tired after riding superbly and 90 seconds each 7km should have me near the front. The bike course is not ideal, with very rough roads and multiple loops, however what the bike course lacks the run course makes up for many times over. With about 50% of the run on sandy trail and dense bushland either side, I felt like I was back at home running over the trails of Lord Howe Island with my brother from a much taller, red headed mother, Ollie Whistler, revelling in the pleasure that trail running provides. I went fairly hard the first lap bringing back over 2 minutes and from there was able to relax a little more. Matty White had not come with me, I suspect his 5 days in Vegas partying playing some part in that.
I was able to catch Betten in the early stages of the 3rd lap and to make sure that he didn’t try to come with me. I gave him a smart arse pat on the bum and told him how impressive his bike ride had been and then ran away a lot quicker than I had been running, away from him. Of course once we were back in the bushland and he was out of sight, I slowed back down to a pace where I could breathe again. For a 70.3 debut the guy was seriously impressive.
I was extremely happy to take the win, pleased that the hard work for the 70.3 World Champs seems to be paying off. Sam Betten held on for second with Matty White coming in third.
As always, thank you to my wife Monica.
Big thanks also to my sponsors Zoot, Vision, Speedfil, Rudy Project, Budgy Smuggler and SIS.