After a disapointing race in Canberra 70.3 in December I was determined to give myself every chance to be in the mix of contenders in the Hell of the West long course triathlon held in Goondiwindi, Queensland. As always, this triathlon had a strong line up of professional athletes, so I knew I was going to have to hurt if I wanted a place on the podium.
With a 5am start to avoid the extreme heat of inland queensland, it meant we were starting the swim in the dark. Sam betten quickly cleared out, another guy also broke away and I found myself leading the main pack, following the small light attached to the lead kayak. I held a strong pace all the way and exited the water in 3rd with a few guys hot on my heels.
With a quick transition, I bridged up to 2nd and headed out onto the bike. I settled into a strong TT pace to start the ride, But it wasn't long before we had a group of four pacing from each other. These guys were flying so I just allowed them to set the pace on the way out with the tailwInd. At the 40km turn we mowed down Betten and our average was pushing 43km/h. As soon as we turned, Nick Hull set a cracking pace for about 15km, and continued to put in some solid surges heading back into town. Approaching the 75km mark on the bike I was getting frustrated with the pacemaking so I went to the front and tried to set a solid but consistant pace into town. I was feeling OK at this point and very quickly I had opened a small gap. I then decided to take advantage of my small advantage, so I pushed hard into town and hit T2 with about 40seconds.
I was pretty excited at this point and ran hard out of transition!I was running, and maintained my lead on Nick Hull in 2nd, and increased on Sam Betten in 3rd. On lap 2 Hull caught me and we were running at a solid pace until the end of lap 2. We still had about a minute lead on betten going into the last lap, so i thought it was going to be a battle between first and second. For the next few kms Hull put in a few surges which i responded to. At the final turn towards home we were stunned to see Betten had almost closed the gap on us and was running strong. We maintained our pace but betten caught us at about 2km to go. He put in a huge surge and i pushed as hard as i could but after a few hundred metres he didnt ease at all and i was getting left behind. I continued as hard as i could all the way home to hold 2nd place, only 30seconds behind the leader.
I am really happy with the result, especially after an inconsistent start to the season. It has given me a boost in confidence, I still know there's a lot of improvements to be made but its good to feel improvements happening.
A huge thanks must go to Kath and Jeremy Nolan who looked after Jess and I the entire weekend in Gundy. Also thankyou to Jess my girlfriend who stood around for hours, cheered me on when i went past, and also just made the whole weekend heaps of fun!