Husky Tri festival seems to grow every year and for good reason. The family friendly event really captures everything most athletes yearn for. A beautiful scenic course that including a snorkel worthy swim leg, some nice undulations on the bike and a scenic coastal run. Other winning factors are the multitude of events on offer, the easy drive from Sydney, a decent pro prize purse and a terrific racing atmosphere brought about by a supportive community and easy spectating.
Matt Dixon and I eyed-off the start list and formulated a plan to try and win this race without taking too much away from my Melbourne prep. The plan being to swim well getting out with the front group, (always easier said then done for me), sit with the group until the 2nd of the 3 laps and then attack for 2 laps to build a little buffer for the run given that the world class dual Olympian Brad Khalefeldt was racing. In retrospect this would have been a fantastic plan if I could have stuck to it. I swam well, exiting with the front group spoiling some of the boys well-formulated plan to drop me from the swim pack with some solid surges at the buoy turns. After 5kms of piddling around on the bike I knew the group couldn’t ride this speed and have a chance against Brad in a running race so I put in a very long sustained effort over the next two laps. Not necessarily trying to get away but pushing the speed enough that I could induce some level of fatigue in Brad’s 30 minute 10k running legs.
The gap would waver from 12m to 150m throughout each lap and Sam Appleton was really impressive, dragging the group back towards me although I was a little bummed he wasn’t thinking like Michael Fox and trying to force Brad to close the gap. On the third lap Foxy came past me and told me Brad had received a penalty and with a mixture of relief and feeling a little bad for Brad I was content to let Foxy help set the pace (15m ahead ‘Vic’ from www.firstoffthebike.com ) of which he did great job. Brad ended up running back into 4th place despite the penalty. It was a real honour to race with such a legend of ITU racing. I hope he continues to mix up his race calendar with non-drafting events as I’m sure once he gets use to riding crunched over a TT bike at steady state power he’ll be very dominant. About that time we picked up one of the truly nice pros, Benny Allen who I had no idea was out in front. Ben focuses on off-road Xterra racing so doesn’t spend that much time on his time trial bike however he really should. With his incredible swim background and cycling potential it’s in his DNA to punish speedy runners.
After my usual sluggish transition Ben, Sam and Foxy had a gap. I wound them in and they dropped off except Sam, who despite stacking it and losing some skin in the process ran along side me. The pace was fairly high but I could hear Sam’s feet kicking the ground a lot and he was breathing heavily. I wasn’t comfortable either and really didn’t want to run this pace for 20kms so at about 6 kms I lifted the pace more and thankfully he dropped off. I pushed until 10kms and then at the turn around I liked the gap and was able to relax and enjoy the 2nd 10kms far more.
A few years ago, racing as an age-group competitor Husky was far and away my favourite event. I remember watching in absolute awe when Leon Griffin, Craig Alexander and Pete Jacobs belted around the course to win in different years, so to be able to win is very cool. Thanks to Emo and the team at Elite Energy, to Karl Hayes for a bed to sleep in and to all the people hollering out on course.