Race reports

Australian Standard Triathlon Championship Race Report

The day before the race, Wollongong hosted elite racing with many categories including para, juniors and senior ITU athletes. It was quite spectacular to watch, although the weather was far from ideal. I find it inspiring, although I didn’t sleep terribly well.

Race morning I was in quite a good headspace though, and was excited to race. It’s been sometime since I’ve felt this way about a race. I was quietly confident I could string together a solid performance, but whether it would be enough to win.. with an Aussie AG title up for grabs I was keen to give it a crack!

Swim Leg

They started us on the stairs down to the beach.. the timing didn’t start till the bottom of the stairs, and they said not to run.. though as I was running down the stairs I wondered if someone would face plant it? Don’t be the first.. made it down and ran into the water to start the swim.

The first 500m or 2/3 of the first lap went well. I didn’t have feet to sit on, but there was a current in the water from all the people ahead that I could see and feel. Then the traffic started to get pretty intense.

I’d go around a buoy and be confronted by churning water and no clear path through. I tried to work out during these phases, but wasn’t overly successful often opting to swim off to the side to find clean water. Unfortunately, my choice on the second lap meant I was getting pushed wide by slower swimmers as I was on the wrong side.

I cut sharply towards the buoy trying to take a shorter route. Inadvertently swimming over and being swam over as I fought through the fray. It was carnage and took me well into the red as I couldn’t breath while wrestling to keep some momentum. After the final turn it took me a good 100m before I got myself under control and was able to focus again on swimming and push to the finish. Swim time: 20:21. The swim was a bit short and not the full 1500m.

Transition 1

Running into transition felt terrible. My legs just didn’t want to move and yet seeing some other competitors ahead I wanted to go faster.. no I needed to pass them, so I forced myself to run. Wetsuit off, and helmet on.. I almost forgot to clip it up!! had to stop again to sort this, and then ran with my bike to transition exit to start the ride. T1 time: 1:32.

Bike Leg

After learning the hard way during a recent sprint triathlon, I was conscious that I didn’t want to spike my power too high on the bike. The Wollongong bike course is 4 laps and includes a hill straight out of transition, followed by a bit of a technical section. It then has a longer flat out and back section, before requiring athletes to negotiate another technical section and ride up over the hill again to finish the lap.

To be honest, I was maybe a little conservative to start, however it’s often easy to get a little carried away and pay for it later. However, this was only 40km ride and it’s not meant to be easy, so I was soon working away just under threshold.

Shortly after the first turnaround I had a rider come past. I wasn’t going slow so I took note and proceeded to follow at around 10-15m behind him. He was moving rapidly into the head wind. I glanced down and saw I was holding 290-300W to maintain the distance. As we hit the hill to end the first lap, I watched him ride away, as my measly 350-400W was insufficient to maintain any resemblance of contact. 

So started my individual TT to the end. By the start of lap 2 the course was starting to get quite busy, particularly in the technical sections. It was quiet challenging to riding aero and staying safe. The biggest thing being speed difference. When other riders are riding similar speed it’s ok, but when the speed difference exceeds 20km/h it’s like running flat out but you can only see ~15m ahead or 3secs, which means you always need to be hyper focused.

I was pleasantly surprised to see I was maintaining similar speed for similar effort back into the wind solo, compared to chasing the other rider.. maybe I’d not been quite at 10m to maximize the effect? However, this gave me confidence that I was riding well, even if I still wasn’t willing to truly attack the hill and sacrifice my run.

After riding over the hill the 5th time (of 8), I backed off slightly for a minute to take a gel, conscious that even though 1hr of racing remained the fuel would help my run. 

From that point on it was ‘balls to the wall’ as Youri Keulen would say. My legs were fatiguing as I fought to hold my speed into the wind. It motivated me passing other athletes, but I was also losing my voice shouting ‘on your right!’ It was almost a case of just keeping hard right myself, due to the speed difference with other competitors.

The last lap was super crowded both times through the technical parts on course. I was thankful it was coming to an end, and actually feeling optimistic about my running legs. As I took the entrance to exit the bike course, I rode over something.. pop! That didn’t sound good?!? I thought. Bike split was 57:28

Transition 2

Flying dismount.. no cramps yay! Ran past someone trying to run in cleats and to my rack. Shoes on, helmet off, grabbed my hat with stuff and go. Drop your race belt.. hang on I actually need that. Turned around pick up race belt and begin to run again. T2 time: 1:11.

Run Leg

It never feels good running off a hard bike, but my leg turnover was good and pace okay too. Then I felt it.. a cramp on the left side of my abdomen. I wanted to push, to dig deep, push my limits so to speak.. and yet another voice also wanted to stop all together. I’d hit over 100g carbs during the bike, which for this style of racing is maybe a bit excessive? So water was on the menu to help the cramp and until it settled I focused on trying to run efficient.

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Part of me was almost thankful for the cramp, as it was something I couldn’t ignore and stopped me going all in (IE not in the comfort zone!).

As the kilometers ticked by the stitch didn’t really improve but more importantly it didn’t get worse. My pace was okay though, in fact I was hitting the speed I’d hoped to do. Maybe I could go quicker? Finally around 7km in (and 5-6 mouthfuls of water) the stitch finally subsided. 

I still had no idea where I was position wise, or who I was racing. At the final turn around I spotted some guys ahead and took off after them. With only 2km to go I’d caught and passed them. I wasn’t comfortable anymore, this is the intensity where it all happens. Either you blow up, or you pull it off. Though I was flying.

The final time up over the light house I started to become asthmatic. I was like a steam engine, wheezing as I gasped for air. Down the hill I wanted to relax and just rolled down it, but I willed myself to lean into the downhill and stride it out. Maybe I could catch some others? I burned every match I had left in a long burn to the finish. Run split: 34:22 (2nd OA fastest on the day). 

Total time 1:54:55. 1st in AG and in doing so winning the Aussie Championship for my AG (35-39). It wasn’t an easy day, and although it was mostly solo racing I actually quite enjoyed the challenge. It’s nice having this event fairly close to home!

Post race I found out my rear wheel got a hole in it as I went into T2. There goes another relatively new tire.. triathlon isn’t a cheap sport!

I’m grateful for all friends and family (+randoms) supporting me on course. It’s really encouraging. Thank you.


Swimming, just keep swimming! I felt like my swim went well, and although it was decent my positional awareness could definitely improve. I’m never going to be the fastest swimming, I can accept that. However, I can be smarter with the way I swim and how I position myself relative to others whether that be drafting or navigating buoys.

Not too many takeaways from the bike this time round. However maybe I don’t need to take on so much fuel for the distance I’m racing? Something to try more of next year before Wollongong hosts the world championships.

Even when things aren’t going to plan stay focused. With a stitch I found just focusing on my form and trying to run as efficient as possible helped me maintain reasonable speed while my body adjusted. 

Finally, I only won because my transitions were faster than others in my AG. It definitely pays to practice. I spent 5mins Friday and again Saturday practicing some aspects of transition. It maybe only saved me 5-10sec, but I only won by 9.. 😉

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