Auckland Ironman 70.3, Asia-Pacific Champs


January 31st, 2013 by



It’s approaching 2 weeks past the event, but Auckland was the first of two races in this epic round the world adventure that I have undertaken over these last 4 weeks. I am now in California and getting ready to embark on the next round – Panama 70.3, which is the Latin American Ironman 70.3 Championships, this coming Sunday.

Auckland1

Crossing the finish line in Auckland in 10th position. I was (and am) quite happy and content with the performance. I could be pedantic and admit that top 8 was my goal for the race, but it was a very good field, and its been quite some time since I was competitive in any event, let alone one such as this.

Auckland 70.3 20.01.2013

The Auckland bridge was a big focal point of the advertising and hype surrounding this race. – The fact that we got to race over it, that is. Now, call my cynical, but a bridge is a bridge – it goes up and it sometimes stays flat, and then, as in this case it comes back down. It was windy up there on the crest and yes it was quite a long span, but essentially, it was just a bridge. We used to cross a few at the Clearwater World Championships in Florida that looked just as impressive I thought?! I am to the front of the group of riders in this shot, trying to tuck in and stay low to avoid the cross winds as the many age groupers tackle the climb on the other side of the road.

I found the race a technical and demading one. The swim was in the harbour area, and even so it was protected mostly by the retaining walls, we still experienced a degree of swell and choppy water. I swam strong and was in touch with the leading group of athletes through T1, climbing on my bike insides the top 8 or so.

We continued to be challenged with technical aspects throughout the bike course, which is rare in 70.3 non drafting racing. Not since my days racing ITU events have i had to concentrate on corners and worry about so many kerbs, manholes, slick city centre tarmac and not to even mention the tram tracks! Despite all these obstacles it was actually out on the quieter area of the course through a housing estate that I had one of my luckiest escapes on a bike in a very long time. I was the leading rider in our long line of athletes and as I approached a series of corners I realised I was coming into the 2nd corner carrying far too much speed. With noone to follow I had misjudged the best line through the corner and had nothing but a high kerb and pavement as my bailout option. Somehow I hit the kerb with both wheels perpendicular to it and essentially tipped off my bike and rolled away over some grass and a bit of gravel, much to the bemusement of some spectators. As is always the case with us, I jumped up (made mental note of how lucky I’d just been) and examined my bike, which amazingly had nothing but a dropped chain. But the time I had sorted this and remounted, the final rider in our group was passing by! I essentially lost nothing in terms of race time. Other than a few Ks needed to settle my nerves and heart beat afterwards, I was fine!

Auckland 70.3 20.01.2013

I ran reasonably well for portions of the race. These being the first and last 5k segments or so. The middle 10k wasn’t so pretty – and I think I looked like the above picture for the most part. As Terenzo Bozonne commented on the post race tv coverage, a lot of us were inclined to run like we were “sitting in a bucket”. I have never heard this phrase before, but it works just fine as an example and brought a knowing smile to my face. I will endeavour to sit in my race bucket less and less as the year progresses!

harbour

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Auckland and would be keen to race this event again. It’s always hard to be critical of a 1st time race as there are bound to be teething issues, but given the task at hand for the organisers what with the city centre nature of the race, I’d say they did a great job. And what about the cityscape view from the finish chute? That’s a hard one to beat in my experience of racing!