Sometimes you get a good result without a good performance and sometimes you perform well but don’t get the result your after.. Well Challenge Wanaka was both for me. I finally put together a complete race that I was happy with and came across the line first.
After a long tough windy day I crossed the line 10 minutes ahead of second place Jamie Whyte then Kieren Doe both from New Zealand. I barely had enough energy to stand and my body was aching all over but I couldn’t have been happier at that point, it was all over and I was the new champion.
After hearing about Wanaka for the past few years I decided this was the year to have a crack. From what I heard it was a tough course. Windy and hilly over rough roads and a fair chance of some cold weather- very similar to the races I went well at in the UK just a few months earlier.
I wasn’t disappointed. My first two days there the wind was almost strong enough to blow me over and it was pretty cold. What I didn’t even think of was the amazing snow capped mountains that surrounded us and provided a perfect backdrop for the race coverage that was beamed right across the world on Saturday. That really was amazing.
I knew that if the wind continued as strong as it was, I wouldn’t be allowed to use my disc and I didnt have a spare wheel. So I organised a backup from the bikeshop that was going to be running a shimano cluster on a Campagnolo groupset. Not the perfect situation, I just hoped it didnt come to that.
As it turned out, the day was alot calmer to begin with and the technical officials decided it was safe enough to race on the disc. I have learnt my lesson for next year! When the gun went on Saturday morning I immediately tried to go with the two swimmers who were expected to easily lead out, I thought I was swimming quite well and if I could go with the leaders I might be able to open a good lead on the rest of the field straight away. That didn’t go to plan and both Kieren and Bryan opened a gap back to me then another gap back to the rest of the field.
I still wasn’t in a bad position. Two and a half minutes down on the leaders and about 40 seconds back to the rest of the field. My plan was to go solo and to my surprise after my first time check at 30km I was shutting the gap rapidly and increasing the distance to the guys behind. I was now 1.30 behind and could see the leaders on straight stretches of road. Pretty soon I was right behind them, Bryan blew a tyre and Kieren was clearly struggling to hang in there.
Kieren and I rode together until about the 150km mark when he must have gone through a bad patch and I came into the second transition with a slight 2min lead on him, another minute back to Jamie whyte then the rest of the field chasing behind there.
The 42km was a tough run with some exposed windy trails and lots of little ups and downs. For me it was just a matter of getting enough energy into my body to hold a constant speed and avoiding cramping. I hit a low spot for a few km around 21-25km but managed to get it back together and have a good run and stay in front of a chasing field.
It was quite satisfying to get it right and be able to race the entire race instead of simply getting through it. Even though I won IM UK last year I didn’t feel I performed as well as I could have, whereas after this race I was totally satisfied with my performance and as a bonus I got the win.
A massive thanks to the Challenge guys for putting on such a great event, my homestay Jonh and Jen from Wednesday until Monday for being so accommodating, everyone from Wanaka who helped in the event and my supporters and sposnors.
Its races like this that make the hard work worth it!
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
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