70.3 World Championships Race Report
Morning started mega early, well before dawn. Thankfully, my wife dropped me into town so I could get the shuttle to the swim start. I arrived shortly after 6am at Sand Hollow, plenty of time to check tires and get encased in neoprene, ready for the swim.
It was freezing, but thanks to a tip from Ben (also racing Kiama tri club!) I had some bed socks to discard just before the start along with a reflective heat sheet wrapped around my head/neck. I spent most of my time in the start queue looking for some other Aussies I thought who were racing in my AG (without luck). Before I knew it, I was trying to take the socks off to line up to start.
Just as the sun rose, my AG wave started. I started what I thought was near to the front, but it took over 5mins before I could cross the start line to start the swim. The swim was all about staying in control and trying to maintain my best form. If some feet presented to follow great. As I kept swimming and passing people, what I soon realised was I was way out of position (IE I should have started closer to the front). The whole swim was fairly uneventful, for a few brief periods I rested a little behind some others, before going around and continuing forward. I finished the swim in 31:08.
T1 was long, and the air was cold. I ran as fast as I could up the ramp feeling really gassed. It helped me not feel the cold so much. I got my t1 bag and dropped the rest of my wetsuit off. With my helmet in the bag it wasn’t very easy to have organised. I toweled off and got my wind vest on, gloves inside helmet, wet stuff inside the bag and ran. Alas, I dropped both gloves before I reached bag drop. Had to double back and find them in the marginal daylight. Decided to put gloves on and try again. Dropped bag and now I sprinted to my bike. It felt exhilarating to run fast in the frigid air. Finally, running with my bike I exited T1, running right pass the mount line and many stationary athletes to jump on my bike (getting better with my moving mounts 🙂 ). Time was 5:26.
Onto bike and the plan was again to keep things in control for first 2/3 and up the effort towards the end to have a strong run. I was shocked how many were on course, as one of the earlier wave starts I was still basically riding to the left calling out as I flew past people. I kept a lid on the power up the climbs and was really enjoying the course (maybe a little too much). I was glad for the wind vest as it was cold, however I had a neck warmer that I quickly pulled down (was hard breathing through it at the intensity I was riding). Up each climb a few would overtake, but I’d quickly catch and dispatch (not to be seen again) on the downhill.
About halfway through the bike, a couple of guys came by, just near the crest of a hill. They plummet down the other side super fast, and I couldn’t catch them. However, I was feeling good and getting ready to up the effort. The final climb before snow canyon I was getting a little warm. I contemplated taking my gloves off, but chose to leave them on until snow canyon. A couple of reasons, 1) make me drink my nutrition, 2) sweat more so hopefully don’t need to pee.
I passed my family at the top which was a welcome sight and then crested the top before starting the descent. I went flying down the hill, which although I was a little intimidated before the race driving it (it was steep with some bends), I found it easy to ride down. However, as my speed declined slightly, I pedaled. Unfortunately, I think my knee clipped my handlebar which sent me into a tank slapper (as described by someone following), before I hit the road with my helmet and left shoulder, shattering my visor (cutting my face) and breaking my collarbone.
I remember feeling like I’d been winded, but otherwise okay. I tried to get up, however I couldn’t move. People came to my aid, by the time my body would respond to my brain, they wouldn’t let me move. I wanted to keep going, but was told it was over. I was in disbelief as I lay there being forced to stay still.
Shortly the paramedics arrived, and I had a neck brace put in place and taken to hospital. The doctor ordered a CT scan and X-rays. They weren’t sure if my shoulder was dislocated or just my collarbone, and wanted to check my head and spine.
A couple of other athletes arrived to hospital shortly after me. Apparently an incident with a car on course. I overheard they were in bad shape, however would survive. I had to wait a few hours for the CT though, and they wouldn’t take the neck brace until it verified there were no other issues. After 4hrs I was regretting not taking painkillers and the bone at the back of my head was hurting a lot as I lay flat on my back with the neck brace.
Once I got the CT (everything was clear), my progress towards discharge from the hospital happened quite swift. X-rays on shoulder confirmed broken clavicle, with surgery recommended to repair. Stitches above my eyebrow (from helmet visor) 4 internal and 7 external and some pain relief. I still had my timing chip and needed to collect my t1 and morning bags. So walked the last km to cross the finish to grab everything.
It was a super humbling experience. Lots of cheers that I can do it etc. but I felt fake. I’d not finished the race. I was broken and just wanted to curl into a ball. I’d spent a lot of time training for the event and the plan was always to really focus on my family after the trip, but instead, I was reduced to being unable to do much unassisted. I could deal with pain, but letting my family down (what I felt) was tearing me up inside. I went through the finish area almost in an out-of-body experience. I was there, but my mind wasn’t.
Looking at the results a top 10 was definitely on the cards, and potentially a lot better if I ran to my capabilities. Some good lessons to takeaway particularly around mental focus. My accident for one I believe was due to a lack in my focus. I made a silly mistake when the consequences were dire (+70km/h).
Grateful and Loved
Thank you to everyone who assisted me, plus all the messages of support and prayers. When you’re feeling miserable it helps. Special mention to Jay and Ben who stopped by the day after the race to help pack my bike up and put things in the car.
My wife is the hero in all this. It’s two weeks since my crash (when I’m writing this) and she has selflessly helped me cope with my injuries. Driving us around America so we can still see some of it (I’ve tried hard not to be a backseat driver!), and helping dress/change bandages/clean/packing/
I’m a big believer in trying to make the best of every situation, and although it was challenging for me, as a family we still managed to visit quite a few places (and I welcomed the distraction)!
Hope you feel better soon! I was there too! Greetings from Sydney
Thanks. I’ve surgery on Monday, than the recovery can begin!
Hopefully you’ve made a full recovery from the event. It was a beautiful but also challenging course.
Glad you are okay! You are blessed with a loving family! Thanks for the race report. A good reminder to stay focused. That swim start was brutal!
I certainly am very blessed. Yes, focus is so important, especially in achieving one’s best 🙂