For those who haven’t been, Goondiwindi (pronounced Gundiwindi) is just on the border of Queensland and NSW inland about 400km. Despite Goondiwindi being a stunning town, there’s a reason they call this event the ‘HELL of the West’, and that reason is the unforgiving dry HEAT!
Fortunately for the local farmers Gundy had experienced some flooding in the weeks prior to the race, not so fortunate were the race organisers who had the difficult task of moving the swim 3km down the road to a safer location. This changed the dynamics of the race making it a 2km swim, 3.2km run, 80km bike and a 16.8km run to finish. This didn’t really faze me; I actually think it suited my strengths.
Race morning came, and there was no mucking around because in order to beat the heat the start was scheduled for 5am, which meant we were entering the water in the dark, and the only thing to guide us was a flashing light on a kayak and lights on each turning buoy. I positioned myself next to who I knew to be the best swimmers, which payed off because I got pulled along with them for the first few hundred metres. It didn’t take long for Sam Betten to open up a lead, with Sam Douglas and myself in pursuit. The 2nd and third swim laps were very interesting because we were weaving our way through the waves of competitors who started after us, but it just added to the challenge!
Out of the water we were down on Betten by only 30 seconds, so in the 3.2km run to T1 I set out to bridge the gap. Before getting to our bikes, I caught Betten, with Douglas not far behind. I had a good transition and was out onto the bike in the lead. Betten soon came past, and set an impressive tempo all the way out to the 40km turn point, which allowed us to open up a sizable lead on the rest of the field. I was working hard to stay in contact, although my aim was to stay relaxed and focus on my nutrition. I made sure I was well outside the 12km draft zone to ensure it was a fair and honest race. Not long after the turn I came around Sam to set the pace. I was feeling much more comfortable on the way back and was able to set the pace for most of the way back into T2.
I was feeling quite good coming into T2, and has been running well in training, so I started the run with confidence that I could contend for the win. For the first 2 of 3 laps I set the pace but Betten wasn’t giving me an inch. We were onto the 3rd and final lap and I was experiencing some Deja Vu from last year, where Sam accelerated away in the final stages of the race. I knew if it came down to a sprint again I wouldn’t have a chance, so I made my move at 5k to go. I had to commit to the very end if I was to hold off Betten. At the final turn toward home I saw that id opened up a lead of a few hundred metres, at that point the thought of winning gave me Goosebumps, and that adrenaline was enough to get me home to take the win!
This result has given me a lot more confidence for races to come. I’ve been training really well, but the real challenge is being able to transfer that into a well executed race. Lots of thanks must go to the organisers and volunteers of this race – there was such a positive atmosphere buzzing through the town, and everyone embraced the race and the people it brought. If you haven’t been to this race, I highly recommend you put it on your 2016 calendar; it really is a nice change from the atmosphere at corporate run events.
Thanks again to my main supporters - Shock sports who provide me with the best race wheels and apparel you can buy, Xtreme cycle and Skate who make sure my bike is always in perfect running order and compressport who help to ensure I am equipped with the best compression race and recovery clothing.
Also a big thankyou to the Nolan Family from Goondiwindi and my partner Jess, who took such good care of me over the weekend, and also were an incredible cheer squad!