View Steve Hanley's photos and report of his day out participating as a team of 2 with Millie Brent in 2015, at his blog.
Race Report – 2015 Sri Chinmoy Triple Triathlon
The Sri Chinmoy triple triathlon first captivated my imagination in 2009 when my now wife Amy and I first entered it as a team with our friend Scott. It showed me trails and views I never knew existed in Canberra despite having lived here for 4 years at that point. The atmosphere, the people, the course, everything about this ultimate challenge was amazing and left me wanting to do it again.
Coming into 2015 I had now done the event 3 times as a team, and in 2011 had my first attempt at the race solo. I had the race I had dreamed of and with the support of Ian, Dave and Marty not only finished the race but was the first solo in a time of 11:56:23. Since that race I had been itching for the opportunity to do it again – in 2013 I was living in Darwin and could not make it down, and in 2014 the race was cancelled due to the risk of bushfires.
Life had also changed heaps since 2011, I was a dad now and my time to train was really limited. So coming into this years race I had a real mix of excitement at the opportunity to compete again, but lots of questions as to how the race would go. I really wanted to prove to myself that the result I had in 2011 wasn’t a one off and that I could maybe go quicker 4 years on despite my compressed training time.
Training wise I had really good consistency, just the volume was lower than what I would consider ideal. I focused on getting lots of hill work in as there aren’t too many flat sections. Due to time and having a good base already in swimming I didn’t get in the pool that much in the lead up (max twice a week), but aimed to do heaps of body weight upper body strength work. My longest run in the build up was 32 km. About 3 months before the race I did a fundraiser everesting Mt Ainslie on my bike, I think I tapered for the coming 3 months following 200 km and 8890 m climbing!
Coming to the week before the race I focused on being as prepared as possible – planning out with my support team my entire race. Every detail, how many calories when, from what source, different plans for hydration dependant on the weather, gear options and points to meet me and boost my morale. Nutrition is such a critical part of endurance sport, and my plan centred around using predominantly liquid nutrition – from Infinit Nutrition Australia which simplified things massively. Together with the team at Infinit I had come up with my electrolyte drink of choice which is high in carbs, and electrolytes, as I am a big guy and sweat heavily. In addition to this I made some vegan raw food bars which would allow me to chew something during the 12 hour race!
Race morning as always was super early, up at 4 to get a good breakfast of oats, soy milk, apple, banana and chia seeds and do a last minute check of everything. Driving out to the start with my support team of Amy my wife, Daina my sister in law and friend John I was the usual mix of nerves and excitement. I love that feeling – it means you really care about what you are about to do. It was meant to be- the perfect day weather wise – mid twenties and not much wind. I took plenty of care before the start to use sudocreme to prevent any chaffing making the day really uncomfortable, a bottle of infinit and a shot of beetroot to make sure I was as fuelled up as possible.
Then it was time to race! It was rather fresh in the water with the other solo competitors at the start, including friend and training buddy Wes Fraser who was doing it solo for his first time. Once we began, I got into a good rhythm in the first swim, and was ahead out of the water into the first transition. The first transition was a little chaotic! I sat in the deck chair whilst Amy and John ripped my wetsuit off and put my gloves, socks and shoes on.
I took off on the bike, just trying to keep things under wraps and not get excited too early. It was fresh on the first ride, but I wore a wind vest along with arm warmers, which was perfect. I really enjoy the first ride, the section around Aranda, Black Mountain and Bruce, still, peaceful and great views as the sun rises and the air is still crisp. I came into the next transition feeling good, and excited for the first run. This transition was super smooth, and in no time was off up Mount Majura. It was so cool the buzz in transition as all the teams were waiting for their riders to come in, the sun was warm and the encouragement was a massive boost.
I knew at some point on this run I would be overtaken by the first team runners, and was hoping this would be towards the top of Mt Majura, a bit later than last time I raced. But as I was about halfway up Craig Benson came screaming past. I tried to just focus on my race, and not get down because I thought I was going slower than last time (I wasn’t racing with a watch, just going off feel). The section through the single track in Majura Pines is always such a highlight. The soft light through the trees and smell of pine needles a really nice juxtaposition with the more rugged Australian bush which most the course highlights.
Heading into the main climb of Mt Ainslie I was feeling slightly more fatigued than I was hoping but this was nicely balanced by the boost I got from the team runners coming past at regular intervals. Up top my team were there cheering me on which was really cool, and I happily got into the descent knowing the hard work was over for a while. I was really happy with my shoe choice for this race – a set of Altra Instinct’s, super comfortable with heaps of cushioning for the descents and bike path sections of the course.
Coming into the next transition I was pretty warm and looking forward to getting into the lake for a cool off and change of pace. I decided against a wetsuit, as the hassle of getting into a wet one for this leg definitely outweighed the efficiency gains I would get from it. The first 1 km of the swim was pure bliss, really good rhythm, really nice cool down. But the cool down unfortunately continued and I got really cold by the end of it. This combined with having consumed 0 calories in the 55 minute swim meant I was stumbling out of the water and onto my bike. Will definitely eat something in the middle of this swim next time, and investigate maybe a speed suit or something to keep just a bit warmer.
The next ride I got back into a good groove after the first 5 km on bike path. It was really cool, going across the arboretum and out through Coppins crossing I was trying to stay with Cristy Henderson as she came past. I was a bit quicker on the flats (aero bars on a mountain bike work on this course!) but she put plenty into me on the climbs. The problem was, because I had been cold and hungry getting out from the swim I then didn’t stick to my plan on this leg, and consumed double the calories I had planned to.
Getting off the bike and starting to run up Taylor I was not in the happiest place, I felt like I was going to throw up, was heavy and tired in the heat. I took my only walk of the race up the super steep fire road, walking backwards for a bit, sideways for a bit, just trying to take the load off different muscles. It was feeling like a really long day when I reached the top of Mt Taylor. Fortunately I realised that I had overeaten so just had water on this leg, and by the time I got to Tuggeranong pool for the final swim my stomach had come good. I knew I would have lost a heap of time on that run and that second place was uncomfortably close.
It was a pool swim due to the closure of Lake Tuggeranong due to algae. Jumping in was such a relief to be off my feet, however the pool was boiling hot! It was good actually having the pool swim though because it allowed me to see Warren who was in second place, which was a good jolt.
This combined with my stomach being back to normal meant I hit the final bike leg with the most energy I had all day. The 2 no dose (first caffeine of the day) also helped that. I felt great, and stuck with a couple of team riders that came past me heading up to Wanniasa Trig and loved the flowing fire road of Isaac’s ridge in the mid afternoon heat. The tunnel to finish the ride is never fun when you are 6’5” and its really disorienting when you are fatigued from having raced for over 10 hours already.
I burst out of the tunnel and was ready to hit the last run hard(ish). Another smooth transition with not much time sitting down and then I was off up Red Hill, the last climbing of the day. Coming down and onto the bike path in Curtin I felt much better than 2011, I think because my stomach had forced me to hold back more than I otherwise would have on the second run. It really was a stunning spring afternoon, and coming past Lady Denman Dr my crew let me know for the first time that I was on track to do about 11:30:00. The final 5 km I pushed, going along my favourite section of the lake bike path and with massive relief and ecstasy arrived at the finish line in 11:26:02 a full 30 minutes quicker than my last attempt.
A huge thanks to my support team for their logistical juggling, to all the volunteers and the Sri Chinmoy Marathon team in organising such an amazing event, to Infinit nutrition for making an awesome custom product that takes the guess work out, and to Onyabike Canberra for Bike support.
To race this event surrounded by such wonderful friends and endurance athletes is such a privilege. While the race didn’t go perfectly, I couldn’t have been happier at the end of it. I learnt lots, I experienced lots, and just had great fun which lets be honest is the reason we do this stuff. I can’t wait for the next opportunity to race this, and I hope that I am able to learn, experience and enjoy just as much.
For other race reports or information on my training and racing please visit www.rowanbeggsfrench.com
Triple-Tri Race Report
The Sri Chinmoy Triple-Triathlon is a portrait of life: a journey; an adventure; a story; a commitment; a passion; a quest. It is pursued alone and in concert with friends and colleagues. It demands discipline, faith, love, even devotion. It offers exquisite joy and abysmal despair; engages our body, vital energy, emotional, mental and spiritual powers in their full array. It doesn’t teach us about life – it is life.
The 18th Sri Chinmoy Triple-Triathlon was staged in and around Canberra on Sunday the 15th of November 2015. Effectively, this was a postponement of the 2014 event, which had been cancelled by the ACT Government the day before it was due to be held, due to the high possibility of a Total Fire Ban forcing the closure of Canberra Nature Park to all events. That day it had been 39 degrees with strong scorching winds – today was 22 degrees with a light breeze and soothing cloud cover. For those who waited patiently a full year and more for this race, the day itself was sumptuous reward.
The day was just asking for records, and our athletes didn’t disappoint.
Due to the amended courses used for the 1st and 3rd swims, the times set for these courses have not been recognised as official records. However, the overall course records are recognised, as the 1st and 3rd mountain bike legs were both longer this year, due to the changes in the swim legs.
Among the solo athletes, the record for the Male Over 50s now belongs to the astonishingly cheerful Geoff Breese from Wagga Wagga, who is smiling broadly in every photo taken of him over the entire course. Geoff returned 13:06:53 for his first attempt at the distance, and only raced solo because he couldn’t persuade enough friends to join him to make up a team!
Rose McGready, Amanda Nott and Elizabeth Bennett teamed up as the “Nifty Fifties” and proved themselves nifty indeed, taking out the T3 All-Female All Over 50 record with an outstanding 13:06:54.
A decade ahead, “The Tearaways” proved the darlings of the Awards Ceremony by setting a high mark for the T9 All-Female All Over 60 with 13:47:58 – comprising Lindy Dunn, Kay Pendlebury, Carol Baird, Brenda Day, Rae Palmer, Cathy Montalto, Ann Ingwersen and Liz Thompson. These ladies set about the course with unbounded enthusiasm, indomitable determination and engaging grace – always a winning combination!
At the pointy end of the field, “Under the Radar” raced very much above the radar the whole day, almost becoming the first ever Mixed Team to take line honours, only missing that distinction by 51 seconds to the all-star “Onya / PTC” outfit (of whom more later). In any case, “Under the Radar” – under the tutelage of Triple-Tri aficionado Peter Klein – established a slick new time for T9 Mixed of 8:28:17, a fine effort for the ensemble of Emma Gillingham, Matt McAuliffe, Craig Benson, David Medlock, Jasen Higuchi, Isabella Marinelli, Jason Klein and Martin Dent.
Although Rad Leovic had previously fielded Open Teams all over 50 and even all over 70, this was the first time a team of All Over 60 had participated – “Rad’s Rattlers” duly set a new course record for this category of 14:15:47. Mighty congratulations to John Kennedy, Geoff Barker, Peter Clarke, Geoff Llewellyn, Hugh Crawley, Mick Saunders, David Baussmann, Chris Lang and Jim White, whose average age is 69!
Special mention and accolades for Emma Gillingham (19:17 in Swim 1) and Isabella Marinelli (15:18 in Swim 3) – both of whom would have had course records had the traditional courses for these legs been in use …
THE FINEST LEG
The stand-out single leg performance of the day was a master-class in speed and form presented by the phenomenal Martin Dent, whose 44:45 for the final 13km run leg over Red Hill, eclipsed the old best time over this leg by a full 4 minutes and 15 seconds! Had the leg been another 2 km, his team might just have pulled off the ultimate prize …
Rowan Beggs-French has won this event previously in 2011, when he was training heavily and supposedly in his prime. Now a father with less time on his hands, he nevertheless led from the literal word “Go!” and never looked back, powering home over the last triathlon to win in an outstanding 11:26:02, eclipsing his previous winning time by half an hour. Rowan is a true champion in every respect, showering his appreciation and gratitude on all his fellow competitors, officials and helpers and positively radiating at the finish line.
Every solo finisher deserves acclaim, for to even dream of completing this truly gruelling event is a significant life accomplishment. Warren Evans took 2nd in 12:07:49; Cameron Darragh not far behind and completing the podium placings with 12:13:15. Multiple-time team entrant, Tim Shillington finished his first solo attempt in fine style to come in under the 13 hour mark in 12:58:42. Wes Fraser cruised home in 13:16:05; and Paul Jeffery gutsed it out to finish bravely in the dark in 16:04:01.
Sharing the Male Over 50s with winner Geoff Breese, were return entrant Marty McGready, who obliterated painful memories of a technical DQ at this race a few years back, in the best way possible, scaling his personal Mt Everest of the Triple-Tri in a complete, controlled and compelling performance of 13:27:32. Ross Beatty came back from the disappointment of last year’s cancelled event, when he was trained, primed and ready to fire, to finish gloriously and with a smile, in 14:00:13.
A notable absence this year were the Solo Females – we look forward to ladies lining the shore of Lake Ginninderra in 2016 …
THE TEAMS OF 3
Competition in the Teams of 3 was slightly overshadowed this year by the ding-dong battle in the T9s at the front of the field, yet some truly top-class performances were returned by “HMAS Friendship” (Murray Robertson, Edmund Hall and Tom Brazier), winning the T3 Open in 9:08:51 from “Stuff the Puffs” (John Fleming, Dave Osmond and Matthew Crane) in 9:18:10. Salutations to the amazing Dave Osmond, who has now completed every single one of the 54 bike legs staged in the history of this race!
“Floored Logic” (Grant Prowse, Mathew Nott and Peter Haggar) took out the T3 Open All Over 50 in 11:40:55; while “Nifty Fifty” T3 All-Female All Over 50’s record is mentioned above.
“Tropical Tango” (Cid Mateo, Cristy Henderson and Steve Fitchett) were solid winners of the T3 Mixed in 10:21:04 from “Meat and 2 Veg” (Chaitanya Oehmigar, Michael Lyas and Daniel Oehm) in 10:43:28.
THE TEAMS OF 4-9
Although racing in different categories, the race between “Onya / PTC” (Callum McClusky, Brad Morton, Robbie Skillman, Nuru Somi, Bob Mathieson, Adam Ridgley and Griffin Layton-Scheld) and “Under the Radar” (listed above) proved edge-of-the-seat stuff throughout the day. It was a sight to behold their two runners flying up Mt Taylor as though they were running on flat ground, shoulder to shoulder. At the end of the 3rd swim in the pool at Tuggeranong, only 2 seconds separated them. ”Onya / PTC” took the glory of line honours – along with victory in the prestigious T9 Open category – in 8:27:26.
Second in this category saw a transcendent effort from one of our favourite teams, Goulburn outfit “Giant 440 Woody’s #4Pete” – racing this year for the first time since long-time team stalwart Peter Oberg passed away. Their finishing time of 9:47:33 would surely have made Pete mighty proud of his team …
The “Old Hacks” (Alex Gosman, Graeme Allbon, Simon Claringbold, Mike McGurgan, Peter James, Terry Dixon and Peter Klein) took away the T9 Open All Over 50 prize with 10:04:00; while “Rad’s Rattlers” are listed above among the course records section for this efforts in the T9 Open All Over 60.
“PTC Ladies” (sisters Eilliee, Suzie and Grace Hoitink, accompanied by Jennifer Davis, Angela Ballerini, Kym Ireland and Natalie Wood) were convincing winners of the T9 All-Female division with a fine 10:43:07. The now-famous “Tearaways” are mentioned above for their stellar return in the T9 All-Female All Over 60, and “Under the Radar” are also credited above for their win – and course record – in the T9 Mixed division.
A photo album from around the course is now published. The 2016 Sri Chinmoy Triple-Triathlon is scheduled to be staged in and around Canberra on Sunday the 20th of November.
"Las Triple Triathlon"
So our brave and gallant team of three boys had a cracking day of racing at the Sri Chinmoy Triple Tri in Canberra.
What the hell is the Triple Tri? It is a 9-leg beast of a race that demands the utmost respect!
It is three off-road triathlons back to back, in various distance (think about it as a big relay). It makes a loop around Canberra, hitting every lake, every mountain and nearly every bike path. We start in the pond-like Lake Ginnindera and end up at Yarrumlumla at the Sailing Club. It adds up to around 6km of swimming, 100km of mountain bike riding and 45km of running.
It is a beautiful, brutal race.
You can have 9 people doing it, with one taking each leg, or you can do it solo or anywhere in between. We decided to do it as a team of three. A triathlon relay. Team HMAS Friendship.
The line-up was as follows:
Tommy Brazier: The gun runner, Tom has honed his skills doing 100km races and was worried that this one would be too short. We gave him the first two runs to destroy himself, so he could relax and let poor old Murray do the last one.
Ed Hall: Big E was an unknown quantity because he had made the smart decision to ditch mountain biking for the world of road cycling, but we had faith that he would get the job done. He would do all the bike legs, a very solid day out.
And of course, there was me. I had hesitantly volunteered to do all of the swimming legs, as well as the last run! My cycling crash three weeks before had left me with a less then ideal preparation but I thought I could gut through the swims without letting anyone down.
We spent the night before the race gorging on pesto pasta and sweet potato, talking smack and working out logistics for the big day on Sunday.
We knew that there was another team of 3 who would give us some serious competition throughout the day. They were seasoned veterans of the race and were very strong athletes. I was more worried about them then Tom and Ed, because I knew their swimmer was better then me. We would soon see by how much.
I was staying away from the boys in the house of Tom's mum, who had kindly given me a bed. The day began at 5am, as I prepared for the first 1.5km swim that would start us off.
So it was that I found myself in the scummy Lake Ginnindera at 6am, watching duck poo drifting past me and trying not to think ahead to the 3.5km swim that awaited me later in the day.
I did my usual, excitable sprint at the start and found myself leading the field, not the smartest beginning to a 9hour plus day of racing.
I dropped into a pack of 4 swimmers and while I slowly slid off the back of them, I was within 40 seconds of the leader, giving Ed a good crack at our rivals.
When not competing or eating, the day is taken up by driving to the next checkpoint to hand over for the next leg. So Tom and I made our way up to Antill St, below Mt Majura, where Tom would begin his first and longest run at just under 20km.
Ed came screaming into the transition, just behind our rivals, having taken a wrong turn on the course (it happens).
Tom then proceeded to annihilate the entire field on the Ainslie/Majura run and posted the fastest split of the day (a hugely impressive effort considering that the majority of racers were only doing one leg, or one run).
This gave me a couple of minutes lead over our competition for the start of the 3.5km monster swim in Lake Burley G.
We started behind King's Bridge and swam down the middle of the lake, under Comm Bridge and into Acton Ferry Terminal.
It is a long, hard slog of a swim. As soon as your arm enters the water you lose sight of it in the murky, dirty depths. Visibility was at a range of about 5 to 10cm.
Luckily we had a little bit of a tailwind, so I cruised down the lake. When I occasionally flipped over to do some backstroke I could see the orange cap of our competition, slowly but surely gaining on me (he would take 2 and a half minutes off me in this swim). I could also see my kayaking escort, who I would say hello to every time I did backstroke. He said nothing back. It was a long swim.
With about 400m to go I was over-run by my rival but, tactical genius that I am, I cut across and sat on his feet for as long as I could.
So halfway through the race we were neck and neck and we knew it would be very tight. (there were two teams of 9 in front of us, with some pro-triathletes and Martin Dent, enough said).
Big E gave us a little lead for his second ride and then Tom, being the backbone of the team, proceeded to put another 3 minutes into them, running up and over Mt Taylor into Tuggeranong.
I was looking forward to finishing my swimming with the last leg looming but that was short lived because it was now in a 25m pool (due to the water quality of Lake Tuggers). It would be a lot of tumble turns with a run in the middle as you had to get out and run to the end of the pool to start again (3 x 400m loops of the pool, ducking in and out of each lane).
Luckily, I am nearly 2m tall, so because I could push off the wall each time so I only swam about 15m a lap. Perfect.
The pool temp was about 30degrees, so I was feeling pretty drained at the end, but we had our 2 and a half minute lead still intact and only 2 legs to go.
And so this is where things got tactical. I was feeling fresh (relatively fresh, after 6km of swimming) so I would do the final, 13km run over Red Hill. Tom had smashed himself knowing he only had to do 2 runs, so we put our plan into action.
So it would come down to the final leg. Did I feel better after 6km of swimming than their runner who had done nearly 30km of tough trails?
Ed came in with that crucial 2 and a half minute gap and I took off, up and over Red Hill!
I felt amazing, and my splits started at 5:00 per km as I climbed over Red Hill and got down to around 3:40 in the first couple of flat km's, but that's when the day caught up to me and I started to fall to pieces.
I began to cramp in both arms. Arms! WTF, who cramps in their arms when they are running. And my toes.
I had to rein it back a little, otherwise I would have been in real trouble. This wasn't helped when our rival teams swimmer and cyclist started waiting for both of us at certain points along the course and providing splits and updates.
Finally, after 9 hours and 8 minutes of racing (something like that), we finished.
The tactic had worked, as I put over 6 minutes into their poor, tired runner.
We won our division, and come third overall. Beating teams with up to 9 members in them.
It really is a fantastic race. It is lonely too, because we were out in front the whole day, we rarely saw any other teams because the field gets strung out by hours.
Triple Triathlon Race Report 2015 - by Warren Evans
The training build up to this race was similar to my build up in 2014, which went nicely to plan until thwarted by the 2014 race cancellation due to closure of the national parks because of hot temperatures and windy weather. This event is special. It’s an off-road triple triathlon, that’s point- to-point, taking athletes through the multitude of lakes and trails of Canberra.
This 2015 event saw perfect conditions, warming up to mid-20s with some cloud covering in the middle section of the day. I felt this year I was going to be able to race, as compared to my 2012 effort which was a survival to the line with a lack of proper training in the preceding months due to heavy workloads and injury.
Swim 1 – 1.5k
5:30am start for us 8 foolhardy solo athletes, with a small crowd of family and friends to wish us off into the murky lake Ginninderra in the breaking light. I struggled to see the buoys in the distance for this first swim, and ended up trying to follow feet instead, until I realised some had no idea where they were going either – and there weren’t many feet to follow!
First transition – my wife, Sarah Anne was ready with everything i needed for the first mountain bike leg, plus gilet and arm warmers as temp was still in single figures at this point in the day. I jumped onto the bike, and remembered how one has to be super attentive to look out for white arrows sprayed on the road / cycle path / trails to go the right way. I overtook a few people in front on the fireroads, determined to hold onto that comfortable / uncomfortable effort level. I missed one of the painted arrows and lost about a minute heading in the wrong direction in the forest. This wouldn’t be the last time! ‘Push bike hill’ lived up to its name – 10mins up super steep rocky trail that was difficult to walk up in cycle shoes. The trail climbed Black Mountain upto the base of Telstra tower, then we headed back down. Sarah Anne popped up on the trail on the way down and shouted that I was 5mins behind the lead solo in second place – wow, what a great surprise! Towards the end of the bike, I was passed by some gun bikers from the teams doing the event, and tried to jump onto their wheels for a draft but wasn’t able to hang on for long enough without going into the red zone. Sarah Anne met me at the transition zone with runners and running backpack holding water and gels.
Time to start the first and longest the run of the day. Out of T2 and straight up the first climb and then up to the highest point on the course, Mt Ainslie. Sarah Anne appeared at the top here, cheering me on as I touched the trig point and then headed across to Mt Taylor via some swoopy berm-filled downhill mountain bike trails – wish we could’ve ridden these instead of run them! Halfway through this run I looked at my watch and saw 3hrs36mins, and thought ah, if this was Xterra I’ll be finishing very shortly, but here I haven’t even finished the first triathlon! Felt fairly strong coming down Anzac Parade, past the multiple military memorials and then alongside Burley Griffin lake towards the leg I was dreading the most...
Swim 2 – 3.5k
The water was warmer than in previous years, but brown and visibility so poor you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. The first km I really struggled. The collar on my wetsuit rubbed, I felt super-restricted around my shoulders, and it was as though I’d forgotten how to swim – pulling through super early, lifting my head, etc, etc. Eventually I settled into a rhythm. I tried to keep a decent cadence, but it ended up being fairly low tick rate. My shoulders really ached, and I wasn’t able to relax them – perhaps the ride / run had made them tense/my wetsuit wasn’t pulled up enough over my sweat drenched skin in transition? Either way it felt like slow going. You swim the length of the lake and cross to the other side, under the large concrete bridge, there’s a water stop on a jetty around half way, so I took a quick stop for a drink of water, then continued doggedly, under the second big bridge and back to the other side of the lake. Then cramp in the right leg struck, so it locked out and dragged rather as I continued to pull myself forward as much as I could. Again, seeing where to go was abit of a challenge as the buoys are rather small, so had to breast stroke at every one to get my bearings and work out where to head next. Eventually found myself on the beach the other side – it felt slower than it was, and definitely was a mental challenge. Time gap to first place is stretching out now to 12mins.
The longest swim of the day is followed by the longest bike of the day. I headed off on the bike paths that crisscross Canberra to start, and then hit the trails. The race takes in ALL of Canberras hills and this leg had the pleasure of the long slog of a granny ring climb up Mt Stromlo. I was conscious of keeping the regular food intake going, as well as the fluids and salt tabs (every transition Sarah Anne would feed me salt tabs as the temps climbed). I managed to jump onto the
wheel of a passing biker from one of the teams and had a fantastic draft for 10mins on flat fire roads. I never got to thank him actually, as he was able to get across a road ahead of me before the traffic came through and we got split up. I headed down into the transition area, which is no more than an area of grass by a bike path, stacked with people, either waiting to tag team or looking for their solo racer. The heat was climbing at this point just in time for the next run.
This run is the shortest, but one of the toughest. Mentally, thing just start to feel hard at this point in the race. You don’t get much time to spin the legs out before you’re climbing straight up to the top of Mt Taylor, touching the trig point briefly, before bombing down the quad-busting steep path the other side. I can’t remember much of the remainder of this run except that I felt much better than I had the previous time when I had to walk backwards up the hill due to shot legs and stomach cramps! This run ends along some thankful shaded and flatter cycle paths all the way to Tuggeranong and the start of the final ‘triathlon’ of the day!
Swim 3 – 1.2k
Lake Tuggeranong was closed to swimming which, quite frankly, was a relief to me as last time this swim took me 37mins, and climbing out the metal ladder at the end with cramping legs was not fun! This time we were in the overheated water of Tuggeranong Leisure Centre for 1200m worth of laps. I was hoping this would be cruise, and a big push off each 25m length would save my aching shoulders. Unfortunately each push off made my right leg cramp so there was little value in doing this! Up and down the lane, under the lane rope for 8 lanes, get out walk to the start and repeat 3 times. The team swimmers were slamming around in the water, for some this is the only leg they do so they give it everything with little regard for anyone else, my yellow soloers cap meant nothing as they splashed and thundered past. My lazy cadence meant I was swiftly passed by someone in a yellow swimcap indicating another solo athlete which was devastating! He eyeballed me as he came past, checking out the competition. I then realised he was in first place and was doing laps in front of me, so wasn’t the 3rd place athlete overtaking me after all – phew!
24km sounds short, but was this bike is very tough, with 2 big climbs, and a chunky 5mins+ of bike pushing due to rock-laden steepness. At this stage I was struggling to get myself into the comfortable / uncomfortable edge, as didn’t have the energy to get myself to that place, despite diligent eating & drinking. I ended up missing a turning so got lost with a couple of other guys to the tune of 7-8mins and using up more energy having to climb back up hills. Frustrating, and started to make me panic a little as I knew 3rd place had started in the pool as I was leaving, even with a 25min time gap I didn’t know if he had more in the tank than me after this long racing. I tried to calm myself and focus on my own effort. When I didn’t trust my tired self not to crash on a not particularly technical downhill, I walked it, giving up more valuable time. The final 100m of this leg is through a tight storm drain tunnel – scooted myself along sitting on the top tube with my helmet scraping on the top of the tunnel, focussing on the light and noise of people at the final transition area at the end. Lovely to come out into daylight and hear the cheers for the person in 2nd place solo category – me!! Sarah Anne was again super-organised and diligent – quick turnaround and out onto the final run.
Up onto the trails and final set of hills to finish us off, then down to the relative flat concrete cycle paths for 6k to the finish. I looked at my watch as hit the cycle path – 11:28 on the clock, 6k to go, possible to go under 12hrs if 5min/k pace is held. I was ticking over at 5:20, and could just hit 5:10, but taking it down to 5min/k and holding it was beyond my energy levels. I was struggling to keep gels steady in my stomach too by this stage. Tried to relax and just keep moving forward. There were a few slopes encountered in the last couple of kms which made me smile, as I remember in 2012 these were the ‘hills’ that I was unable to run up in the darkness despite Sarah Anne, would run out from the finish line to find me, encouraging me on to the end! I managed to push on and cross the line in 12:07, feeling very satisfied with my effort and the result .
I definitely felt I was able to race this event this year, even if swims 2 & 3 were slower than wanted, and the final bike / run was not as racy as I wanted them to be. Massive thank you first and foremost to the lovely Sarah Anne who kept me moving swiftly through all transitions and gave me all the support and encouragement I needed. Thank you to Prachar and the team at Sri Chinmoy for another great event, creating a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and a fantastic spread of food post- race. And thank you to my fellow adversaries out on course, and all of you who sent messages of support, whether via text, email or FB – it really makes a difference. Now, where’s that cake??