Note: I was meant to be racing the 1485 Duathlon on Sunday morning but a nastily pulled calf on Saturday morning stopped me from being able to run…. Perhaps this was a blessing in disguise as it meant I could stay up until 7am and watch Conor racing LIVE on the BBC Red Button service! -Steve.
7 April 2014
After 2 mediocre results in the first two World Cup Sprint races of the season (Mooloolaba & New Plymouth) I had a solid result at my WTS debut in Auckland over Olympic distance, finishing in 22nd place. This was the most competitive triathlon race I’ve raced with few of the top 50 guys in the world missing from the start line.
Elite Men Highlights
I had worked hard on my biking whilst staying in New Plymouth with my home stay hosts, (Merv, Jo, Liam, Sam, who were awesome and really helped me prepare well for Auckland). I was in New Plymouth for 2 and a half weeks, the training was great and there were plenty of hilly bike rides to prep on for the savage course in New Plymouth.
Auckland is a cool city, I arrived 4 days prior to the race, staying in a city centre location, it felt like we were risking our lives every time we went out training, super busy traffic for biking and lots of hassle and bustle on streets so runs were never really that productive, so apart from race prep I spent a lot of time resting up in my hotel room or in the coffee shop opposite my hotel.
Race day and the start time was 3.30pm, so there is a lot of morning waiting around with your feet up until 1pm when warm up starts and I start to tunnel vision focus in on the race. I have a well worked out pre race routine by now so it’s just a pre race process that works for me… Run warm up round bike course, get all kit together, drop it all at athletes lounge, bike warm up, set up transition, swim warm up, athlete introduction, start line, gun goes bang, race on.
Auckland was obviously a much bigger race than I’d ever done before and the atmosphere was electric pre race, so it was important to stay calm and not waste adrenaline hits on the carnival atmosphere pre race, I managed this well.
After two poor swims in the first races of the season, I had a relatively uneventful two lap 1,500m swim, not beaten up too much, 40 secs down on first guys out of the water not a disaster. I had a fairly swift transition so I was in the middle of the chase pack at the beginning of the bike.
Auckland has arguably the hardest bike leg of all the WTS races, 40km (8x5km laps) of city centre criterium racing over cobble sections, with 3 fairly savage hills per lap and 3 “U” turns per lap, the chase pack I was in held the 45 sec gap for the first 5 laps then the lead pack put the hammers down for the last 3 laps and opened the gap to nearly two mins! The racing was fast and frantic and it was important to stay focused at all times as there was a high potential for crashes. Thankfully most of us stayed upright. I hydrated well and got good fuel on board, important given the high energy exertions on the hard bike ride to run solidly.
As we approached T2 the the end of the bike I felt strong, got myself into a good position coming into T2 and again had a swift transition. The 10km run was still hot (27 degrees on race day). So it was important I kept the body temperature down, I got water over my head at each aid station. The 10km run was 4 flat laps of the city centre. I went out onto the run conservatively, hard but not unsustainable and built speed throughout the 10km. I had a good solid run and over took a fair few guys who went out way too hard, my last run lap of 2.5km was potentially my fastest, which is good pacing.
So a good hit out for my first WTS debut at 22nd. I’m currently at 38,000ft above the sea north of Australia on a 55hr door to door journey to Ireland. I’ll have a few days in Ireland for recovery the a solid 10 day training block then onto Cape Town, South Africa, for the 2nd round of the WTS on 27th April.