Xterra World Champs

The Xterra World Champs is always my biggest race of the year. This year I headed over to Maui, Hawaii, for my 7th attempt. Having had a disappointing performance at this event in 2014, I was keen to use the lessons learned from that day and redeem myself with a top race this year. 

After competing in the Xterra USA Champs in mid September, I headed back home to Rotorua to recover and then get my last big block of training in for Worlds. Training went well, even fitting in a local 12 hour mountain bike team race which went well, putting out some of the most consistent and fastest laps over the day, and I headed over to Maui feeling fresh and confident. 

I went over early this year to try and get as used to the heat as I possibly could. Coming from New Zealand I definitely take a while to start feeling good in the heat and humidity so I was pretty happy to go early and get more training done on the island than I have ever managed before. I had a great time in the lead in to the race, doing a bit of training with Jacqui Slack and staying with a couple of mates from New Zealand. The atmosphere going into the race was awesome. For the first time ever at this race, I was excited to be racing and just seeing how I would go after a great build up and some good races earlier in the year, against the best guys in the world. This year in particular I thought there was a very talented, deep field, and the fight for the top 10 would be brutal. 

Standing on the start line and the usual nerves were replaced with excitement. I lined up pretty far to the right hand side, hoping to stay clear of the usual fight for places that goes on in the middle of the pack. I had a clear run to the first buoy and managed to get on a good pair of feet after the first turn. I swum conservatively, relatively happy with the progress we were making, and trying to save as much as I could for later in the race. Heading out onto the bike I heard I was around 30 seconds down on last years champ Ruben Rufaza and two minutes down on the main lead group.

I got to work early on the bike, finding clear ground for the first undulating and twisty 20 minute climb and made up some places quickly on my Santa Cruz Tallboy. Just after the 5 mile mark (up on Razor Ridge) I managed to pass Branden Rakita and then Sam Osborne and moved closer to the top 10. I felt good hunting the athletes down but after this I had a piece of misfortune. Coming into the first aid station I was yelling out ''water, water - two bottles." Unfortunately after I had grabbed the first and put it in my bottle cage, I grabbed the second one and began pouring it over myself before drinking it and realised they had given me Gatorade. At the next major climb I checked the other bottle and it to was Gatorade. I knew I had to keep drinking (to avoid a repeat of 2009 when I passed out on the run) but Gatorade really doesn't sit well with me. There's a reason I choose to use GU Energy products, and that's because they are the only product that I can have a good tasting carbohydrate drink and it sit comfortably while I race at 100%. I have tried many others brands drinks (including gels) and haven't found another one that suits my body as well.

Immediately after drinking the Gatorade I could tell my body was going to refuse it. Halfway after the biggest climb in the race and it started coming back up. I decided to only take sips of it until the next aid station (a good 25 minutes away) to try and get a bit of fluid in. I managed to get some water at the next aid station which helped a lot and I was able to take in some more of my GU gels, heading into the last major climb and then the 20 odd minutes of twisty, undulating single track back to transition. I passed Ben Hoffman and Ben Allen in this time and felt pretty good heading into the last section of the bike, now just inside the top 10.

Coming off the bike I could tell I was less than a minute down on 6th and well within a chance of a great result if I could put together a fast run, something I had been working hard to achieve. I felt good for the first few minutes running uphill but then could tell that something wasn't quite right. I went from feeling strong to weak in only a couple of minutes and quickly the run was turning into one of survival for me. Ben Allen and Hoffman came back past me towards the top of the climb, both running well, but I was barely moving, just hoping I would have some fast legs for the downhill and hopefully maintain my place, now 12th.

I felt a little better on the downhill but still not great, taking my time through aid stations to make sure I got in as much fluid as I could to complement my gels. On the last big climb of the run (I call it 'The Wall' - a 250m steep section on a concrete road in the baking hot sun) I was caught by another athlete. I gave it my all to stay with him and hung on down the last descent where we went back past Ben Allen who had rolled his ankle on the descent. Coming into the last beach section he created a small gap and was able to hold it to the finish, with myself struggling up the finish chute just behind him to claim 12th elite, a placing that I am proud of considering the circumstances, but still having the 'what if's' had I nailed my nutrition plan and the run. 

I wasn't in a great place at the finish of the race, definitely suffering from mild dehydration and the heat. It had been a hot day for the race, with barely any clouds while we were out racing, making for brutal conditions. I spent a while in the medical tent getting brought back to normality before heading out and celebrating finishing this tough race with Matt Backler (4th in 35-39 age group) and Lydia Hale (2nd in 30-34 age group) who I stayed with. A great trip is now finished and I am already planning my 2016 assault. It was inspiring to see Josiah Middaugh win the Elite race after 15 years of trying. I hope I am able to get there one day to! 

A huge thanks to my incredible supporters: 

Santa Cruz Bicycles - I rode the Tallboy CC for this race. The perfect bike for this course as although it's not technically hard, it is pretty bumpy!

Rotorua, New Zealand - The perfect training ground for Xterra racing. Beautiful lakes and pools, and amazing trails for mountian biking and running. Couldn't have it any better!

GU Energy - Although I wasn't able to nail my nutrition plan with the circumstances, I know I am taking in the best nutrition with the Roctane gels and powder!

Marmot - I only used the visor on race day but their gear was perfect for the heat in Hawaii while running or relaxing on the beach.

Smith Optics - I used the Overtake helmet with Pivlock Arena glasses, keeping me cool and my vision clear. 

Maxxis - I (along with nearly the entire field) chose the Maxxis Ikon tyre for this course. Perfectly suited for it's fast rolling and grippy attributes. 

Prologo - I use the Prologo Nago Evo X10, a light and comfortable saddle.

Evoc - The ultimate travel luggage. Reliable, light and incredibly well designed these bags make travelling so much less stressful!

RATS - The ultimate local Triathlon club in Rotorua!

Plus my team behind me:

Richard Ussher; Mark Leishman; my parents Deryck and Sally; my brothers Nelson and Jeremy; my girlfriend Monique Avery and all those who support me. 

I am now having a quick break from racing and training but am already planning my 2016 season!

 

 

Race day in my life...

After a solid couple of months training in the NZ winter, I figured I needed a race to test out some new equipment and also see how I was tracking leading in to the US Xterra Champs. The Nduro Winter Series MTB Race #3 provided the perfect opportunity as it's close to home, has tough competition and is always a fun race to be amongst.

I thought I'd so something a little different for this blog so below is a few photos, showing my progress through the day and how things went. Enjoy.

A 7am wake up is pretty leisurely for those of us used to competing in Triathlons (especially the Half Iron or Iron distance races). Breakfast on race day is home made Pancakes. 

After breakfast I got my race nutrition ready. I always race on GU Roctane Ultra Endurance drink (Grape flavour) and GU gels - generally a mix of flavours with some containing caffeine and some without. 

Always important to get my head in the right frame set. Before every race I am listening to music from the moment I wake up until the gun goes off.

My first race on my new Santa Cruz Highball MTB. I made sure everything was running perfectly in the days leading up to the race. It rained hard for a short period during the morning but I stuck to my original tyre choice of Maxxis Ikon 2.2 tyres, which turned out to be the right choice.

All ready to head out towards the race site and go for a warm up.

Out at Race HQ I caught up with a few other athletes racing before heading out for another quick warm up. I figured I needed at least 20-25 minutes easy on the bike + a few short efforts to get ready for the start of the race. 

I managed to line up near the front which set me up for a good start to the race. My plan was to not waste to much energy early on with the usual high intensity start. 

For most of the race I was locked in a tight battle with NZXC Racing and former NZ National Champ Carl Jones. 

With 10km left to go I managed to get a small gap to Carl. For 5km it hovered between 5 and 10 seconds but I was able to slowly extend my lead with only a few kilometres left to ride. 

A photo right before the end of the race. I was really suffering at this point trying to hold onto 2nd with a bunch of three chasing around 30 seconds behind.

I was pretty happy to reach the finish. #1 because it meant I could relax after a tough effort and #2 because I managed to hold onto 2nd ahead of some of the best mountain bikers in NZ.

Cabin was the lead moto for the race so he was pretty keen to find out happened behind. 

My day wasn't done though, having to head out for a short but painful run to simulate my Xterra races. 

There really are some stunning places to train in Rotorua. Even if some of them hurt getting there...

A bit of speed play to really finish me off...

Session done it was an easy jog back home for a shower before prize giving.

I was really happy to make the podium. After a few months of solid training but no racing it was great to be back amongst it. There really is nothing like a solid race to prepare the body and mind for the next couple of months. 

The last thing to do for the day: Clean the mud off all my gear and then relax. Race ticked off. Next up US Xterra Champs.

Xterra US East Champs

After an awesome five weeks of training and racing in the US, staying with families and now life long friends, it was time to finish up with the Xterra East Champs held in Richmond, Virginia. I had heard a lot of great things about this race and had been wanting to get over for this one for a long time, so I was stoked to finally get the chance! Myself and Craig Evans made the long drive (1000km's) from his home in Nashville, Tennessee over to the East Coast on the Tuesday which gave us (mainly me as Craig has raced here A LOT) heaps of time to learn the course. It is a mega technical Xterra course with a boulder infested river swim, followed by a MTB course that is 90% singletrack, finishing up with a mainly flat run consisting of some of the most fun and technical sections I have ever done. All of this is managed in downtown Richmond. It sounded perfect for me and it so nearly turned out to be...

As I said the river swim is gnarly with varying depths and bid boulders making things interesting. Only being a 1200m swim and even including a 100m run halfway through, it was the perfect swim for me. I had a plan to try and swim with Josiah Middaugh who was 30 seconds ahead of me out of the water in Alabama. After a great swim I had a few seconds on Josiah and heard we were around 75-90 seconds down on the front group of Craig Evans, Braden Currie and Ben Collins. Game on.

I was really looking forward to the bike course as I have confidence in my bike skills and was hoping I would be one of the fastest through the technical trails. Early on in the ride and I jumped on the Middaugh train which I felt was heading to the front. After only 10 minutes of riding we had moved into 3rd and 4th, passing Branden Rakita and Karsten Madson, but in the process losing my bottle and as it turned out maybe something else to... I have never been so high up so early on in a stacked field so I was feeling pretty amped and was loving the experience. Josiah is a super strong rider but I felt I had the edge on the descents so I was able to close any gap he opened going up the hill. About 20 minutes in we made our way to the front, catching Braden and Craig. After a few minutes following them, which I spent trying to recover after the hard effort behind Josiah, Josiah made a small attack. I looked at the other two as I knew that I could let Josiah go and hopefully catch him on the next track. Sure enough Braden took off in pursuit with myself and Craig following. Braden made a mistake up a hill named Stairway to Heaven (really steep and technical) and myself and Craig continued the chase of Josiah. After the drink station I managed to get into the next singletrack section first and took off after Josiah. I shook Craig and Braden and after the first of two laps came through in 2nd, less then 10 seconds behind Josiah. I was confident that if I kept riding with Josiah that I would have a decent gap heading onto the run to hold Braden off. 

A huge thanks must go to the two Evans family I stayed with in Nashville and Richmond. They made things so easy and enjoyable for me and I can't thank them enough for their hospitality!

Xterra US South-East Champs

After a short break from training after Xterra Tahiti I had a few days training at home before heading to the US to compete in the America Xterra Tour. First up was the Xterra South East Champs which was also doubling as the USAT Off Road Triathlon Champs. I arrived late on the Monday night after a pretty long trip from Rotorua consisting of four flights and around 24 hours of travelling. It's fair to say I was pretty smashed by the time I got there, and combined with the 17 hour time zone change (essentially seven hours in front of NZ time) it meant a few late nights early on. 

I was very lucky to have an awesome homestay family with the Montgomery family who live very close to the Oak Mountain State park - where the race is based. I had a few days before the race to check out the course and I liked what I saw! The water was a perfect temperature in a nice lake, the bike course was on single track infested with rocks and roots. Apart from one long climb it was very undulating without any real sustained efforts. Onto the run and it feels similar to the ride, perhaps with a few more steeper undulations. 

I felt a bit average in the first few days I was there and then unfortunately two days before the race started to experience an upset stomach. This continued through to race day so when I lined up I was a bit apprehensive about how I was going to go. Before this race I had a goal in mind of where I would like to finish but as I was standing on the start line I only had two on my mind: get to the finish line (as fast as possible) and get through it without a toilet break...

After being sent off by the loudest cannon I have ever heard (my ears were ringing for the first 750m lap) we were away. I had a good first 100m but then I could tell I was in for a tough day. I was already gasping for air only two minutes in and was starting to drift off the main pack. Over the next two laps they slowly pulled further and further away so I knew I was facing a large deficit out of the water. Onto the bike and I was joined by Chris Ganter. He was super strong over the first 500m of the bike so he led into the single track. We both quickly realised that I was slightly faster on the technical stuff so he let me through to set the pace and start pulling some people back, with Chris sprinting back up on every straight section. We managed to slowly move up the field for the first 30 minutes of the bike and I was starting to feel more comfortable on the bike until we hit the steady 12-13 minute climb. After a couple of minutes Chris attacked and I had absolutely nothing when I tried to go with him. I tried to conserve some energy and use it for the last third of the bike which I knew would suit me best. After the climb we hit the long descent going down the infamous 'Blood Rock' section and through to Rattlesnake ridge. I managed to catch a few people on the descent and learned I had moved into 6th. With 10 minutes left to ride I started to see I was catching Branden Rakita. After a few minutes of chasing I made my way over to him and came into T2 with a 10 second lead...something that would prove crucial later on. 

I went out as hard as I could early on to try and stop Branden getting across and running with me. After the first 5km lap I had managed to hold the 10 sec gap but I knew if I faltered at all that Branden was there to pounce. It was starting to warm up during the second lap so I was conscious of getting my GU gels and fluids in and keeping my carbohydrate and sodium levels as high as possible. Over the second lap I started to slowly pull away from Branden and with two kilometres left it was pretty relieving that I couldn't see him over my shoulder. I didn't let up to much over the closing kilometres and was stoked to cross the line in 5th, a result I definitely would have taken at the start of the race with how I was feeling. 

All in all it's a solid start to my US campaign and I can't wait to race the Xterra East Champs in downtown Richmond, Virginia in four weeks time. Right now I have another few weeks here training in Alabama before heading further east.

Xterra Tahiti

My last race of my first block of racing for the year was Xterra Tahiti. I was feeling pretty tired after racing Xterra New Zealand and then Xterra Asia Pacific Champs on consecutive weekends before this one. Coupled with the travel, when race day came my body felt like it should be relaxing in the humid 30 degree temperatures on the beach, rather than lining up to compete in one of the hardest Xterra races I was about to experience!

I was there to compete though so I had to get my head space right before I could enjoy a break after this race. A couple of top French athletes, Tony Moulai and Brice Daubard, had made the trip from France to be part of this race so I knew it would be another hard battle. Race morning was a little different than usual with a one hour bus ride with all the other athletes taking us from downtown Papeete to the race site. This race is different to most, being a point to point from one side to the other, and with the hills on the bike course (having to pass one of the highest points on the Island) and the hot and humid temperature, it made for a brutal race.

I wasn't feeling very good on the bus trip int he morning so I was stoked to get to the start of the race, put my gear in transition and get the day underway. Two 750m laps in the beautiful Tahiti ocean greeted us first. I had a good swim, coming out just behind fellow New Zealander Matt Backler, who like me was a bit tired from the previous weekends racing. After a very slow transition caused by not being mentally switched on, I was onto the bike in 4th overall chasing Matt, Tony and Brice. I caught Matt after 5km and moved into 3rd just before the brutal climbing began. The climbs on the course were ridiculous with parts of the road reaching grades of over 25 degrees. I never thought I would say I would have to walk up concrete climbs, but today I conceded defeat. After the first time walking though I was keen to avoid it again as my calf's hurt so much that I would rather try and grind a cadence of under 50. After what seemed like an eternity climbing (only an hour), I finally caught a glimpse of Tony ahead. I didn't catch him by the top of the climb but managed to catch and drop him early on in the steep descent down the other side of the Island. With 10 minutes of riding left I finally saw Bride on an out and back section, guessing he had around two minutes lead. He held that into T2 as I managed to extend my lead over Tony and Matt, hitting the run with a 5 min buffer (although I had no idea of this until the end). I wasn't keen to hang around on the run with Tony being one of the best runners in ITU triathlon. The run was awesome with 10 river crossings giving me some relief from the hot temperature. It also added a technical element that I would love to see in more Xterra races. I might even go as far to say this is the best Xterra run I have done with rivers, technical single track, steep climbs, gravel roads and beautiful scenery always giving you something to think about. My body wasn't feeling that great on the run though so after a tough mental battle I was very relieved to see the finish line and cross it in 2nd, ready to put my feet up and rest! 

Xterra Asia-Pacific Champs

After Xterra New Zealand I had a few days to recover at home before taking one of the last Air New Zealand flights from Rotorua to Sydney. It will be sad to see this service go! The Xterra Asia Pacific Champs are located down in Jervis Bay, a three hour drive south of Sydney. I was travelling with a good mate and fellow pro athlete Josh Kenyon which made for an entertaining and awesome trip.

After a few days of checking out the course and relaxing we were ready to go. Again it was another mud fest on the bike which always makes things interesting! There was a star studded field this year with the likes of Conrad Stoltz, Braden Currie, Ben Allen and Courtney Atkinson racing, alongside a host of other pros. I was feeling good after Xterra NZ so was looking forward to another hard day of racing against the best. 

Race day was a warm one and made standing on the beach for the start a bit uncomfortable in wetsuits. We were underway soon enough though and straight away the pace was on. I managed to find a good group to swim with including Ironman athlete Caroline Steffen, but still lost 2 minutes to Ben and Courtney and 90 seconds to Braden and Conrad. Onto the bike and I felt pretty good so pushed hard to make up lost time. The bike was a long one with a small amount of climbing which made for one unrelenting ride. The single track sections were cool but in short supply. With over 20km of gravel road riding it suited the bigger powerful guys but I am getting better at that stuff and quickly moved into 5th. Nearly at the end of the ride I heard I was gaining on Courtney and managed to catch and pass hi, with 4km to go, wanting to put as much time into him as I could as I know he is another great runner. I came off the bike 4th and was excited to see Ben Allen was only 30 seconds ahead. I set out of T2 quickly hoping to pull him back and after three kilometres I made the catch! I moved into 3rd and managed to put a bit of distance between myself and Ben but still 2 minutes down on Conrad. Courtney was flying behind and halfway through the second lap he passed me disappearing into the distance and eventually catching and passing Conrad for 2nd. I kept pushing right to the end but just came up short of Conrad and settled for 4th, really stoked about how my day had gone and the experience of racing amongst the top guys for the podium spots.

No time for a rest just yet though as I am heading home and then quickly heading over to Tahiti for the first ever Xterra Tahiti next weekend.  

Xterra New Zealand

The start of a three week block of racing was my hometown race, Xterra NZ. This is always the race I look forward to the most each year, racing on a course I know so well and in front of home town support! I was feeling pretty good about things this year and hoping to improve on my 3rd placings over the last two years, but with guys like Braden Currie racing, I knew it would be a very hard fought race.

Rotorua provided another stunning day and at 11am we were underway with the short 1km swim in the Blue Lake. I had a great swim, making the first main group, and coming out 60 seconds down on a group of three ahead. Early on in the bike I managed to move into 3rd and was hunting the two ahead down. After 25 minutes of climbing we hit the first downhill in the race - Billy T. It was really muddy and wet but I had a great descent and managed to catch Braden and Sam Osborne and move into 1st with Braden on my wheel and Sam a little back. Myself and Braden rode together for the next 10 minutes before diving into Split Enz where I was able to build a small gap. I held this small gap of around 30-35 seconds over the last 20 minutes and managed to lead off the bike. This was an amazing feeling in front of family and friends and something I would love to do again...

Onto the run and I felt good but not great. Braden is an amazing runner and I knew I would have to have a phenomenal run to hold him off. After 3.5km I could hear the dreaded footsteps behind me and knew he was right there. I held tough though and after the first 5.5km lap he was only 10 sec up. Sam was having a great run though and was pulling time back on both of us. Eight kilometres into the run and he caught me, running past like a man on a mission about to break the run course record. I must admit my head sunk a little after going from 1st to 3rd on the run but I still had another few km to run and you never know what can happen in the last part of a race. I managed to hold onto 3rd, having my fastest run at the race and the fastest mountain bike split overall but it wasn't quite enough to hold off Braden who took the win and Sam who placed 2nd.

I'm already looking forward to next year and hoping to continue my good form into the Xterra Asia-Pacific Champs next weekend!

Xterra Motatapu

Whenever I head to Queenstown I know I am in for a hard race with the Motatapu, but this year was the toughest yet...

Immediately after the Cross Triathlon in the Snowy Mountains I headed down to Wanaka to spend the week there in preperation for the race. I spent the week nursing injuries sustained in my crash from the weekend before, which has made me thankful for when I can swim without having to glad wrap wounds...

It was perfect weather in Wanaka the entire week, right until race morning that was. At about 5am it started pouring down and made the trip out to Glendhu Bay very un-motivating. It's always hard pre race when it's raining and cold and all you are trying to do is keep dry and warm. I hopped into my Blueseventy Helix early to keep me warm which worked pretty well and I was really happy when the gun went!

I had a great swim coming out 2nd overall with about a 90 second gap to anyone behind. A fast transition and I was onto the bike in the lead. Immediately I could tell we were in for a long day as the rain had softened the gravel road and it felt as though we were riding with a double puncture. It was slow going and made it a very mentally hard ride. After 60 minutes Dougal Allen caught me. He had been flying to make up a couple of minute deficit out of the swim. I was able to hang onto him for a couple of short climbs but I was feeling pretty flat and wasn't able to go with him. He extended his lead to about a 90 sec advantage through the next 30 minutes but I was always able to keep him in sight as we rode through the valley. The bike finishes with a long descent and I was starting to feel better towards the end of the ride. I put in a big effort through the last 20 minutes of the bike and managed to close the gap to come in to T2 around 10 seconds behind Dougal. Out onto the run and we were pretty evenly matched for the first long climb. Dougal had the same 10 sec advantage we entered transition in but I was hoping I would be able to reel him in. After 20 mins we hit the technical and extremely slippery farm track and this is where Dougal excelled. He steadily pulled away as I struggled with my hip injuries which made running on any uneven track very hard. I went into 'just finish the race mode' on the big descent towards the end of the run and just hoped I would be able to get through the race without doing any more damage. 

Luckily I was able to do that and came in 2nd, a few minutes behind Dougal, glad that I got through the race. It's a pretty awesome feeling to be racing for the victory in races now and I am looking forward to the rest of the year and having some more battles. Now it's time to head home and focus on getting my body sorted!

A good and bad day at the office

Finally the 28th of February had come! For me it marked the start of the off-road triathlon season and I couldn’t have picked a more competitive race to start the year at! Lake Crackenback, just south of Canberra in Aussie, hosted the very first Oceania Cross Triathlon race and with a $40,000 prize purse for the athletes to compete for, a quality field turned up.

Training had been going well since Challenge Melbourne in early February and I was looking forward to seeing the progress I had made since I last raced an off-road triathlon. Getting to Crackenback was pretty straight forward as I was able to take advantage of the Rotorua – Sydney flight and then onto Canberra. It is going to be a real shame when those flights stop! After a two hour drive to Crackenback I arrived at race site. The race was based around the Lake Crackenback Resort and Spa which is absolutely awesome for athletes or just general outdoor enthusiasts with a golf course, mountain bike trails, archery, pool, lake and heaps of other activities to keep you entertained.

I was there to race though and quickly learnt the course. The swim was pretty easy being 2x750m laps in the small lake, the bike was 2x15km laps on the flat, fast and flowy trails in the Thredbo valley, and the run 3x3.3km laps around the resort, constantly changing direction and terrain. Heading into race day I was confident and really looking for a good race to be up competing for the podium spots.

I had a decent swim, apart from the start where the first 50m was one of the most aggressive as with 20 guys going for a buoy where we had to make a hard left hand turn it was always going to be carnage. I was right on the outside and got pushed pretty wide forcing me off a few feet I wanted to stay with. After that I was in a solo time trial trying to minimize the time loss to the front. Onto the bike and it’s a pretty unrelenting course. There aren’t many parts where you can relax and not pedal on this course as it was so flat. Luckily though it was tight and twisty which I was hoping would help me and it seemed to work that way early on. I was 8th out of the water but quickly moved into 5th after two thirds of the first lap. Near the end of the lap I could see 4th and was really happy with the progress I was making, pulling him in quickly. Right at the end of the lap I was on his tail heading down the last descent and into the start finish.

Unfortunately though things quickly took an unexpected turn. Coming out of the last descent and onto the road to start the 2nd lap I took a pedal stoke standing up and before I knew it I was over the bars and sliding along the concrete. I lay on the ground for a moment trying to process what had just happened. I had gone from being on my bike to the ground in a blink of an eye and I had no idea why. As I lay there, unsure what I had done to myself, I looked at my bike and could see straight away that my chain was missing. I got up with the help of a couple of marshalls (who also grabbed my bike) and got taken to the mechanic/medic tent which was only 10 metres away. Someone grabbed my chain and brought it to me and I went about looking over my body and my bike. I was pretty shaken up and could tell I had done something to my left hip and elbow. My new bike wasn’t looking to flash either with a few scratches, and a bent hanger, seatpost and bars. Maybe the worst thing though was this had happened on the only stretch of concrete on the course and where all the spectators were…

After a few minutes of getting myself together I realized that I couldn’t do anything to continue the race. I didn’t have a chain breaker and any external help would have my DQ’d. I spoke to the race referee who said the mechanic could fix my chain and I could continue on the course but wouldn’t be included in the results. I was gutted. After a few more minutes getting my bike sorted I decided to continue around the course and see how the body was. I was back in the women’s race now so rode relaxed, trying not to interfere with their own race unfolding. The body was alright on the bike although my elbow was pretty cut up and my hip was really sore. I finished the second lap, much slower then my first, and headed out onto the run. The run was on constantly changing terrain so I was pretty hesitant to push it and make my injuries any worse. I didn’t really know what to do as I was running around the course. Do I try and push hard even though I’m injured and risk making them worse, do I just pull out now and save myself. Both didn’t sound that great to me. I didn’t want to make things worse but I hate saying that I didn’t finish a race. I decided to keep going around the course slowly and cross the finish and know that even though I’m not officially on the results, and despite my bad luck, I did finish that race.

Looking back on this race a few days later I’m pretty frustrated. The body was feeling good, I had put myself in a great position to compete for the podium spots with 3rd and 4th within 15 seconds, and it’s never nice to have bad luck when you are competing for a big prize purse.

I am now down in Wanaka recovering from the crash and getting ready for Xterra Motatapu this weekend. The body is starting to feel better and I hope to be back to near 100% for this challenging race! It’s fair to say I’m pretty determined to put out a good performance this weekend and hopefully luck will be on my side!

Tauranga Half Ironman 2015

The Tauranga Half Ironman kicked off my racing for 2015. I couldn't have picked a better race to start the year on. The field was the deepest and highest quality I have ever raced in a Half, the Mount always produces an awesome race atmosphere and there is always fast and close racing with the flat course.

I was feeling good leading into the race after having a solid training block down in Hanmer Springs over the Christmas and New Year period. I was really feeling the benefits of the race in Taupo and was just enjoying training and relaxing with the family. Training down there was something a bit different and there were plenty of opportunities to explore the mountainous landscape surrounding Hanmer, including a couple of epic rides with my cousin Sam over the St. James cycle trail.

Leading into the race I was happy to see what the race organisers had done with the start times for the elite and age group fields.  The elites would have a much bigger gap back to the age group field which I was happy with as it would make the bike more of an individual effort compared to previous years. It would also mean the age group would have their own fairer race.

Starting out with with the 2km swim I felt good, the only problem was that I couldn't quite stay with the main front group and ended up swimming with Keegan Williams. It was a pretty uneventful swim and was good to have someone to swim with which meant we had a decent swim time and exited the water in just under 25 minutes, losing about 90 seconds to the front group containing all the big hitters. 

Out onto the bike and I sat at my targeted watts, and seemed to be setting a good pace as Keegan was happy to sit 10m behind and ride together. We quickly picked up Simon Cochrane but were caught after by the Australian Jamie Black. He was riding well and I was happy to have another strong rider in the group. We were doing the majority of the work and I was happy that the longer the ride went the better I was feeling. That was until the 70km mark where myself and Keegan were mistakenly sent the wrong way by a marshall. We were quickly pulled over by an official who turned us around to go and do the proper course but the damage was done. Simon and Jamie had gone the right way and we were around 90 -120 seconds behind after we fixed the mistake. I was gutted and quickly went to work to try and pull them back in. I managed to drop Keegan and then a few k's before the end caught Jamie. When I hit transition with a bike time of 2 hours 14 mins Simon was just heading out and had about a 40 second gap, and I was in 8th.

Quickly into the run and I felt good. I was slowly pulling back Simon for the first 7km's but on the first lap around the mount I had a rough patch. Jamie had been running well, catching and passing me proceeding to putting 30 seconds into me at the end of the first lap. I kept trying to run my own rhythm and then with about 6k's to go started to feel a bit better. I upped the pace and began pulling Jamie back in, catching him just as we hit the mount for the second time. I had also managed to catch Hamish Hammond of the second lap of the run so had moved into 7th. I could tell I was starting to catch Simon again and was trying to bring the gap back down. He was running well though and managed to hold me off with the same 40 second gap that he had at the start of the run. That meant 7th for me. I was pretty happy though as the top five consisted of Craig Alexander, Braden Currie, Cameron Brown, Mark Bowstead and Ryan Sissons...pretty stacked! My performance had also been better then the Taupo Half so it shows I am heading in the right direction leading into the early season races. Next up is Challenge Melbourne in a few weeks. Should be another stacked field there and another awesome experience racing the best in the business. Until then it's back home to recover and keep building the form!