Once I heard about this race I was instantly interested. A half ironman distance race, on the coast and close to home.....sounded good to me! Pottsville is situated at the top of the NSW Far North coast, and my first words when driving through the town were “I could live here”. Its small, on the beach and feels pretty relaxed, a bit like where I live now in Yamba.
Being the inaugural year for the event, I thought that there may be less competition in the Elite wave, but wow was I mistaken! There were at least 6 or 7 well accomplished professional triathletes, including the likes of Clayton Fettell, Sam Betten and John Polson. I used to completely psych myself out when I saw these guys line up beside me, but this year I feel like I am improving and I’ve learnt that you just have to do what you can, and never give up because anything can happen in a long course race.
The swim was a point to point course straight down the Pottsville River during an outgoing tide (tide assisted). Once the sun was up, we were off and racing and it only took a few hundred metres for superfish Sam betten and Clayton Fettell to cause a break in the field. Once the gap opened up, I found myself at the front of the main group trying to minimise the deficit going into T1. Out of the water I got the time gap of 45seconds, so I worked my transition hard, and had the leaders in sight several hundred metres up the road.
The ride course included 4x22.5km out and back laps on a flat and fast course. I was on my own for the first 5-6km, until I was caught by the group of male competitors I exited the swim leg with. I was feeling quite heavy on the first lap, and only started to find my riding legs around half way through the bike leg. From then on I was able to pedal strong, and thanks to my new ‘Cranktip’ Pedals was feeling smooth and saving energy for the run. During the majority of the bike leg, Sam Betten was showing incredible ride strength up the road, riding solo. It was disappointing to witness some deliberate drafting during this race. Two of the male competitors riding in our group were not showing any attempt to drop outside the 12m draft zone when passed. Ill admit these competitors were setting a very fast pace and doing the majority of the pace making, however it made it an unfair and ultimately unwinnable battle for Sam Betten, who we eventually caught approaching the final lap of the ride. Another issue I had was age-groupers (a lap behind) swerving straight out in front or behind one of us, enjoying a tow along until they eventually drop off. This is not only unsafe, but forces us into the draft zone, and really disrupts our race.
At the end of the bike leg the lead male group had dropped down to 5 competitors, including John Polson, likely the most talented runner of all of us. The run course included 3x7km laps, on a mix of grass, footpath and road. I ran out of transition in 3rd place, closely followed by 2 others. As expected, Polson took an early lead, and I took over 2nd place, trying to maintain 1st place in my sights. It took me the whole first lap to feel light on my feet, on the 2nd lap I was able to open up my stride, and catch up to and pass a slowing Polson. At the end of the 2nd lap I began to feel some cramps developing in my quads, which was due to only water being served on the run course. In the final lap the cramps were intensifying, and my muscles were screaming for electrolytes, but I wasn’t going to let anyone steal the victory from me, so I put the pain out of my head, and kept my legs ticking over, until I reached the finish chute. Well done to Brian Fuller who only finished 2 minutes behind, and huge respect goes to Sam Betten who hung in there to take 3rd.
Im really happy to get another win. I have had a dream start to the season, and my aim now is to build on this form, to come out even stronger for Ironman 70.3 Cains in June.
Thanks again to all my supporters for helping me continue doing what I love – Shock sports, Compressport Australia, Cranktip, Xtreme cycle and Skate Scicon Bags, and my partner Jess, who pretty much looked after me all weekend!