Port Macquarie has to be one of the nicest places for a triathlon. A swim which weaves through yachts in a crystal clear ocean inlet, a two lap undulating ride along the NSW north coastline, followed by a mostly flat run that includes a long stretch along the breakwall.
I have competed at port Macquarie twice before, and due to the tough nature of the bike course, I struggled both times. I had been working hard on the bike to try and bridge the deficit which I had been giving away in past races. As with most of these bigger races with deep pro fields, I believe I fly in under the radar, and am a bit of an underdog, which is exactly the way I like it! I definitely prefer to surprise people with my performances, rather than have their expectations overwhelm me before the race even starts.
I took a different approach as I normally would in the swim start. It was an open water start. Normally I would line myself up at the front, but this time I positioned myself right behind two of the gun swimmers in the field. I highly recommend this approach to anyone who knows they aren’t the strongest swimmer in the pack, because I was basically being pulled along for the first few hundred metres, and I didn’t have to waste all that energy I would usually waste so early on in the race. I was able to exit the water quite comfortably in the front pack containing all the major contenders, only 40seconds behind super fish Josh Amberger who made an early break.
Out of T1, the pace on the bike was high from the get go. We were driving the pace both up and down the hills, and by the 22km turn, our pack had dropped a few, and I was working hard to stay in touch. By the half way point (45km) Josh Amberger was unleashing some major wattage on the bike, and had already put over 3 minutes into us! At this point of the race, I started to feel more comfortable, and was able to settle myself further toward the front of our pack of 6 guys (Appleton, Kahlifeldt, Munro, Mainwairing and Reitmeier), and was able to set the pace over some of the hilly sections toward the end. Late on the bike, Reitmeier made a small break, and I had a very close call with a car towing a caravan, which was conveniently sent across an intersection as I was approaching at around 60km/h. To the person who was controlling the traffic at that intersection, I appreciate help, but please don’t offer yourself to do that job next year, our lives are in your hands!
After the adrenaline slowly left my body caused from the close encounter with death, I entered T2 very satisfied with where I was at this point in the race. I was 3/4 through the race and everyone around me was a very well accomplished triathlete. I put on my garmin to keep track of my pace, and set out in 3.30min/km pace for the first 5km. At this point I was in 6th position, but was being chipped away at by Casey Munro, who ran past me at about the 7km mark. From this point on my pace gradually slowed, although I was always within sight of the athletes in front. I finished a very close 7th position. Only a few minutes separated myself and 3rd place, which over a 4 hour race is quite close. I was a good feeling to be in striking distance of a top 5 and some much needed prize money.