After my crash last weekend in Mooloolaba, the pressure and importance of this race became exponentially higher. The start list was stronger, the course was more technical, I was still recovering from hitting the ground, and my ITU points ranking had dropped a significant amount. So on the start line I had a few goals that I needed to accomplish to have a successful day. My number one goal was to just cross the finish line safely; my number two goal was to have a solid run; and my number three goal was to get as many points as possible - it turned out to be a bittersweet, successfullish day.
Since I was still pretty sore from my crash, I was looking forward to a beach start. Beach starts spread the field out a little bit so the first 100m sprint is less aggressive and fewer bodies are bumping into each other. I had a great start and was first to the turn buoy, right next to super swimmer Richard Varga. I didn’t want to swim right next to him because that would slow us both down, and so I immediately gave him the lead and got on his feet. I held my position there as we went around the next three buoys until we started heading into shore and I felt like Varga was taking a slightly wide line to shore. I decided to get off his feet and swim my own line to the swim exit.
I ended up leading the swim out with a small gap to my training partner Joao Silva and when I looked back I knew I was going to have the benefit a nice cruisey transition. I took my time and made sure I didn’t do anything silly and was on the bike first with Silva just on my wheel. The two of us rode together for about 3.5-4k until the first chase group caught us. Once they caught us, just like mooloolaba, no one wanted to ride so we ended up getting caught by the entire field and rode like granny's the next 15k.
Once in the large group I positioned myself towards the front for the majority of the time, because once again, there were guys making ridiculous moves in the pack. On the last lap I got sucked into the middle of the 50 man pack and saw guys doing sketchy things so I let myself drift towards the back to get to “safety”. It was a very good thing I did that when I did because sure enough there was a 5-6 man crash right in front of me. I had to come to a complete stop and I lost the main group, but I didn’t crash and so I was happy.
I chased hard to get to T2 and ended up latching onto the back of the main group just before entering transition (about 10-15sec down on the leaders). I had a very poor transition with guys running into me and hitting my bike from both sides, also when I racked my bike it somehow fell off the rack so I had to re-rack it, but I wasn’t bleeding and so I was happy.
I started the run and had to make sure I stayed within myself and didn’t go out to hard. I slowly started picking guys off and made a solid move the last 400m when I started my sprint and was able to pick off about 6-7 more athletes and finished 22nd.
While I’m unhappy about being last into T2, and not having the run I know I’m capable of (due to lingering crash soreness), I consider this race to be “successfulish” as I crossed the finish line in one piece!
Now, I’m Looking forward to my next race, the first of the World Triathlon Series, and my first Olympic distance race of the year, WTS Auckland on April 6th.