Back to one of my favourite races on Sunday, Australia’s oldest triathlon, the Nepean Tri. The organisers of this event achieve something special every year with no real thought of personal gain in their minds except the buzz of once again creating a special event. With $3500 on the line for the win with a bonus $1000 if you beat the first placed female (who have approximately a 10 minute head start) it’s potentially a nice pay day for less than 2 hours of suffering. Last year I was able to win the race by attacking early on the bike and building a nice lead. However I had a feeling this year people weren’t going to let me get away so easily and that it might come down to the run. With 2 x Olympian Courtney Atkinson racing and ITU athlete Cam Good in the mix coupled with soreness still in my legs from last weekend leaving the race to the run was not something I wanted to do if I could help it.
As it turned out, I didn’t have much of a choice. I positioned myself poorly at the swim start, perhaps a little over confident in my swimming ability and quickly saw there were two groups to the right and the left and I was solo in the middle. For those unaware of open water swimming tactics, if you’re swimming behind a group of other swimmers with your hands almost touching their feet the moving water pulls you along and you are often able to swim at the pace of the guy leading the group who in reality is a far better swimmer than you. For someone like myself, in short course racing it’s imperative I make that group in the first few hundred metres or it’s very easily to lose a lot of time swimming solo or with only one or two others. Which is exactly what ended up happening.
30 seconds down out of the water and 40 seconds down by the time we were out of transition, with Courtney showing how important transition time can be I spent the first 15kms riding flat chat to brige to the group who are allowed to ride very close together, approximately half the space of long course. Joey Lampe and Michael Fox were playing it smart and really trying to drive the pace. Not only to try and keep me out of the race but also because they had guys like Courtney on their wheel and Cam Good close behind mine who can run 30-31 minute 10km run splits.
Onto the 2nd lap and I caught the group and waited in the line of riders for a while to get my breath back. I then tried a few feeble attempts with Joey to get away again however they were quickly shut down and I waited for the impending burn on the run.
Onto the run I was once again impressed at the speed of Courtney’s transition. I spent the first 2kms getting back up to Courtney, Michael Murphy and Michael Fox and then the pace really dropped off for a while. Everyone was letting Courtney dictate the pace because we knew at some point he would switch the after burners on and we would all be hanging on for dear life. At this time Cam Good had caught us which now had me worried. As he joined us I sarcastically thanked him for taking his turn on the bike not because he had done anything wrong at all, he had played it all within the rules and smartly saved his legs to battle against Courtney on the run but more because the thought crossed my mind that if I could get into his head and make him feel bad he might think I’m really pissed off and willing to dig deeper on the run then he is willing to. Plus I had to live up to my new reputation as the angry gnome in these shorter races. Something that I know needs to be wound back. ‘LMS’ or little man syndrome is a true medical condition. I’m raising money for it’s research and treatment so please send all cheques directly to me 🙂 In all seriousness, I wasn’t actually angry at all, I love Cam. I was simply trying to get an edge over a guy who I think is a superior runner.
At around 5kms Courtney started to build gradually pulling away. I started to click up some gears too with first Murphy dropping off, followed by Fox. Cam took the lead so I followed in his draft deciding that my best option was to surge with 4kms to go and then try and hold on. I pulled away 10m from Cam and then worked very hard to extend it until about 15m and then kept the gas on all the way to the finish line finishing 2nd. Courtney outsprinted the lead female by less than a second to win the bonus money on offer. Cam finished 3rd, Michael Fox 4th and Kieran Roche 5th who despite having a shocker swim for him, riding solo and then running brilliantly to get into the money. A name of the future, along with Michael Fox. The BGFG, Joey Lampe had a stinker run. However knowing Joey’s consistency that means he’ll probably win Noosa next week. You can never pick his form but when it’s on he is a real force.
Huge thanks to Warwick and Gordon for once again putting on another stellar Nepean tri that really supports pros racing over shorter distances.
Big thank you also to my non-triathlon interested friends that made the surprise trip out to Penrith to give some whole hearted, pants down support. Very different but very entertaining.
Courtney sprinting for the overall bonus..