(Image courtesy of Simon Watts/Getty Images AsiaPac)
My racing year is off to a good start, I picked up 9th place at the Tauranga Half Ironman earlier this month with a strong training race that set me up for 4th place at Challenge Wanaka on the 18th January.
My build up to Challenge Wanaka was pretty good and being able to spend the week prior in Wanaka completing my final training really helped. My homestay hosts Jonathan and Nikki out at Hawea Flat looked after me, their property is stunning and their hosting was amazing.
Race morning and the conditions looked perfect, the lake was calm and flat and there was little wind. The temperature was 3 degrees and the lake temperature 14 degrees so reasonably cold.
I was very happy with my swim, my Blue Seventy Helix and skull cap got me through in just under 53 minutes and I managed to stay with a bunch including Matty White, Richard Usher, Courtney Ogden and Keegan Williams. Unfortunately my feet and hands resembled blocks of ice and took ages to defrost, several others suffered with the cold also.
My transition was pretty quick and it was good to get out onto the bike, I was really cold and warming up seemed to take the entire bike. My new Cervelo P5 with Fulcrum XLR80s and Schwalbe Ironman tyres felt fantastic and rolled nicely. I hung on to Matty White and Richard Usher for a bit, but decided it wasn’t a pace I was comfortable with so stuck to my race plan and let them go. The Challenge Wanaka bike course is so tough and I was struggling with being cold. The leaders were pulling away from me and Dougal Allan flew past like I wasn’t even moving. But I had a reasonably good ride given the conditions and the hard course and came off the bike in fifth place.
The run course at Challenge Wanaka, like the bike course, is tough with the majority off road. I’d had six weeks off running late last year with a calf injury so didn’t have quite the run preparation I would have liked but there was nothing I could do about that so I settled into my race pace and pushed on. My first lap was consistent and I gained on Matt Burgess in fourth place, the second lap proved tougher. I ran into fourth place with about 10km to go and managed to run quite strongly from there to have a 3.02 run split.
I felt like the tank was empty when I finished but I was happy with fourth place in a strong field. Several people suffered due to the cold start and I was pleased to be able to push through that with a good result.
As always the atmosphere at Challenge Wanaka was amazing with a lot of support throughout the course. Huge thanks to all those that supported me on the day, family and friends, and my amazing sponsors, PRV New Zealand, New Balance New Zealand, Cervelo, 3T, Triathletes Corner, Bonk, Schwalbe New Zealand, Bont, Compressport NZ, ISM, Blue Seventy and Hobsonville Physiotherapy. Your support is appreciated so much.