Newton Racer on ice after Challenge Wanaka

I got my 2011 season started with a long-distance event in the beautiful Wanaka located in southern New Zealand. We (Aimee and I) arrived early on Monday where there was a direct flight between Melbourne and Queenstown (1 ½ hours drive from Wanaka). The rest of Monday was spent unpacking, shopped and cooking food.

On Tuesday and Wednesday I did some light training in all 3 disciplices. I was really happy that the water temperature was 17.5 and the bike course was not as hilly as expected.

Thursday was a training free day, but I had a few other things on the program; starting the day with a radio interview with Live Sport New Zealand. Then it was off to the race breifing, press conference, massage, sponsor commitments and then the last thing was the Pasta Party with a little interview up on the stage.

Friday I did light training and a little sponsor work, and checked my bike into T1 in the afternoon, an early dinner and headed to bed before 8pm.

Saturday morning I woke up as usual with lots of nerves. Victoria (our race director) picked us up nice and early and after getting my bike ready I had plenty of time for warm up.
It was clear even before starting that it was going to be a very long, hard day. As the wind was coming from the north west it meant that the last 70km on the bike would be into a headwind – I was not looking forward to this!

Back to my swimming; I had a very good start and was sitting with the second group on both laps although there was quite alot waves coming at us from all angles. I was out of the water 2min from the front, but was with those that you would’ve expected to finish in the top three so I was pretty happy.

Onto the bike, I sat with Keegan Williams, Richard Thompson and Bevan McKinnon, who raced really hard for the first 40km. Before the pace dropped a little bit, I was sure that they had forgotten that there was a 70km headwind at the end.

At the 50km mark, I lost my chain at both front and back. That meat I lost 2min to the group I was in. And with 120km left, I was pretty sure that I would be able to catch them and hoping to do so before headwind section.

At 93km I was down to 30sec. behind the group (Keegan, Richard and Bevan) where there was our ‘special needs’ bags. I had packed 3 bottles of SIS energy fluid, but as I came to collect my bag it could not be found. I stopped completely, to be sure that they hadn’t just looked wrong but no such luck. It seems my bag was not taken out to the course. This meant I lost precious seconds to the group in front and missed out on my SIS nutrition to help me chase them down and get through the 70km of headwind. I was hoping I would receive enough energy from the normal ad provided throughout the race.

Even before I hit the head wind crunch, I could feel my lower right back muscle was really sore and tense, which made it somewhat difficult to be in the aero position.

When turned at Cromwell to return back to Wanaka (70km) we were hit with a massive headwind and with only one way home we knew it was going to hurt.
You would think that I was used to training in windy condition as I lived and trained in West Jutland during the late 90′s, but when you’re biking IM watts and heart rate, with a speed of 20-25km / h, you know that is a pretty serious headwind! Although it took much longer than expected, I did arrive back to Wanaka.

In T2, I had difficulty putting my shoes on because my back was extremley tight and causing significant pain. I made the decision to use an extra 30sec to lie down and stretch my back before I attempted to take on the run course. Still in a fair amount of pain I hit the run course, which was 2×21, 1km off road route. I quickly found I had caught up with Axel Riser, and halfway through the first lap I caught up to Petr Vabrousek, and we got in a pretty rythem and tried to work together and share taking on the headwinds .

End of the first lap, we got a chance to see how far we were from the front, which was quite a bit even though I ran 1:28:05. At the turning point we overtook Richard Thompson had slowed.

Challenge Wanaka 2011

But with another 21.1km lap, I knew there were still time and kilometres for people to slow or drop, So I decided to leave Petr hoping that I would catch some more before the finish line.

The first part of the lap was on dirt road and singletrack which allowed a different run style and made the kilomteres go by a lot quicker. In this stage, I met up Keegan Williams who was walking, so I gave him some salt tablets to help himget to the finish line.
I continued further in the hope that more had dropped speed and I would be able make more ground up. Within 4km I caught up to Josh Rix, who said as I passed “knew you would come again.”

I wasn’t able to catch anyone else in the last 4km.

In my run down to the finish line, I had time to take off my Newton runners before I crossed the line. With my second lap split time of 1:29:52, it was enough for a 4th place. And wih the fastest run of the day, the only athlete to go under 3hours I was thrilled. The next fastest run time wasCourtney Ogden who was 8minutes behind my time.

But even with the fastest run it does not help much when you lose so much time on cycling.

Right now it is holiday time, the head and body needs a break before the rest of the season of racing. Hopefully without any Achilles problems that I had leading up to Wanaka.

And yes just a little more to wind the story: We found out in the evening of the race that they were thinking of calling off the swim because there was too much wind which was around 50km per hour and winds of gale force.