I woke up to a wind battering the house. Can’t say I paid that much attention, and just thought “Its always windier in Hawea”. And well its true, and as the first part of the day is focused on the swim, and all I am really focused on before the start of the race is seeing how much chop there is on the lake, you don’t necessarily think that you are going to have to be biking back through Hawea.
Anyway, me and Emma, made our ways to the start line. Emma, for her own reasons, was in a “will she won’t she” mind set, and I think the wind swung her seriously in the favour of “won’t she”. So it was get the bottles on the bike and get ready, we were fairly early, as there is over a hour to the start after the Challenge Wanaka guys. So a bit of hanging around, Emma eventually decided to not do it, which is a bit of a bonus to me, I don’t often have a support person to hold my bags for me 🙂
31:49 Age Group place: 5 Gender place: 11
Garmin Stats (surprisingly close to accurate considering I was wearing it on my wrist)
Yes the water was choppy, but it wasn’t white water. So I suppose I thought that’s all good, but I have to say I didn’t think it was going to be an enjoyable swim. The half guys have a deep water start 100m off shore. The men were starting first, so me and Karyn made our way out behind the guys. The hooter for the guys went, and me and Kayrn watched as women took off with them. There was no way we were going, it was explicit at the briefing, the girls start 3min later. I damn well hope Jeanette White who bet me but 2min wasn’t one of them…
Anyway, as I had predicted the 3min delay meant I was swimming through a wash of bodies. Add the chop and I was having a fun day. I ended up going up the inside of the small orange buoys most of the time, as that seemed to be the best way to get around. unfortunately, every time I came to a turning buoy, I seem to catch a big bunch of men, and had to fight my way around. The final leg back was clear however. That final large orange buoy seems to take forever to get to. Plus everyone seemed to be using a completely different line to me. But doubt myself not, and I just kept forging ahead. Because of all this, I don’t think I ever had a safe pair of feet to sit on the entire way around. I was doing it by myself.
I was glad to get out of the water.
I was rather surprised at the number of women in the changing tent when I arrive, had I been that slow on the swim? (didn’t occur to me till later that some of them could have been full athletes). My time doesn’t seem to bad for the transition, but both of my transitions seem to have taken me forever… its just not so fast, when you have to get things out of a bag etc.
2:55:50 Age Group Place: 5 Gender Place: 7
Thankfully the wind wasn’t too strong out to hospital flat, though I had a few decent tail winds coming back, once I was in my largest gear and peddling at max.
I knew there would be a head wind to Hawea, so I let of the gas, just a bit from Wanaka to the turn off. It wasn’t that bad wind wise the first part, but there are a couple of biggish climbs and then a nice false flat that the wind just gailed down on you. Crossing the damn at Hawea was scary as all F*%k. My aero helmet was pushing my head around and felt like my bike was almost leaning over to the ground. At times like that I am glad I am not a light weight.
But then we got to turn, and a tail wind all the way along Hawea Flat, I was zooming and over taking a heap of guys, not sure why? I was actually cruising it. Then the little climb and another zoom all the way down the road to the red iron bridge. The big descent before the bridge was the next scary place. The wind whip around as you were going down. I decided to play it safe put the brakes on.
Then it was a head wind grind back into Wanaka, before that little detour around the back.
I span the legs out on the final descent, before beginning scared again when I turned into the road along the lake front and found myself being buffeted sideways. Finally I was off the bike.
Felt like another slow transition… putting socks on (almost forgetting to put one sock on) then tying shoelaces…
2:08:06 Age Group Place:16 Gender Place:39
Legs were feeling OK, not super duper but OKish. I set up a good pace on first couple of k’s but found on the track I wasn’t meeting my pace targets. I knew that there were points on this run I’d be slow and other points I’d make up time. But after about 4K’s I decided to ignore the Garmin. I had worn it for 2 reasons, 1 to have the data to look at afterwards. 2 so I’d know my pace on the run. But I just felt happier if I didn’t look at it. Plus the wind in parts was like running into a brick wall, it was just tough.
The run was harder than I remembered, especially the last few k’s of the outlet track, when it goes into single track and has a lot of pinchy hills. I wasn’t going to be walking those hills! Anyway I was glad to come out of there and onto Gunn Rd. (why was I glad, I got to walk! ) Yes there was 3 points on the course I planned to walk. Gunn Rd was the first, I was the only one walking it! I was tut tutting the guy in front of me running and getting no further up then I was. Where is the sense in that. Some people were running it faster than I was walking, but how were they feeling at the top. I was feeling fine and was quite happy to be off on my way running once I hit the top.
Then it was the long slow descent of Aubrey rd, I had planned to make this a fast part but not sure how well I managed. Then it was a walk up Totare, then around Lismore park. They had changed the course this year, so rather than doing the little out and back you go all the way around Lismore and back down to where the people going out first join the trail. I am sure it is longer and harder with the new course. I was glad to be on that final straight and home.
5:41:59 Age Group Place: 6 Gender Place: 11
In comparison to Ashburton my swim and bike were both slower. I was expecting my bike to be aprox 10min slower, and it was. I was expecting the hills would slow me down. As much as I disliked the wind, it probably benefited me more as it would have had more effect on those weaker on the bike. The swim, no one was setting records out there in the chop…
My run was 1 minute faster than Ashburton, so happy with that, even though I was hoping for 2hrs. Especially if I compare it to others. Karyn had done a 1:44 run at Ashburton and did a 1:55 at Wanaka. Now she obviously had a different day to me, and different aspects would have affected that time, but as a comparison it makes me feel good. (FYI she still had a great day 4th in her age group)
I had only tapered 2days before so my legs were tired, but they took it fine and with stood the pressures well.
To the full challenge athletes my deepest respect. I was glad I wasn’t out there, but in some ways I wish I had been, so I could say I took part in one of the toughest Iron distance races ever. Us Half athletes had it easy, the wind was no way near as bad as it was for the full. The stretch from Cromwell to Tarras sounds heinous. Felix who runs the Challenge Brand said, he had never been following the top male pro in a car before, where the speed went under 20Km/h and kept dropping. He said it was the hardest Challenge Race ever undertaken.
Especially Congrats to: Graham for getting on the Podium, Brendan from swim squad for winning his age group. But also for those age groupers who were out there well into dark, awesome effort 🙂
Now I get a recovery week, and then the final stretch to Taupo begins. Bring it on!