Originally the race was set to take place on Saturday, though on Friday afternoon the race organisers were left with no choice but to cancel the event as weather warnings rang out over most of New Zealand. And Taupo braced itself for some cyclonic conditions, with winds predicted to gust up to 140km/h!
I rode on Friday morning when the winds were around 60km/h and almost got blown off my bike, so I was a little worried things were going to turn bad at that stage.
Everyone was called into a briefing on Friday evening and updated about the situation. We were told to collect our bikes and if the weather was alright on Sunday the race would go ahead as a 70.3 (Half Ironman).
Luckily the weather cleared for a race start on Sunday morning and we were able to get into it.
It was a bit of a cold start with the air temp around 5 degrees and the water temp claimed to be 15. That didn't really worry me and I got off to a good start exiting the water with the lead pack. All the players were around me including Cam Brown, Merino Vohnacker, Terrenzo Bozzone and Tim Reed.
There was only one guy in front of us all and that was Marko Albert, a great swimmer that had opened a 90 second gap.
Once on the bike we headed through a few little hills in the town and onto a reasonably flat course for the next 80km. Being so flat it was hard for anyone in our group to break away from the pack, although a few attempts were made we rolled back into T2 as the same group that headed out with the inclusion of Marko who we had caught at the 50km mark. It was going to be a running race!
I hit the run quite stiff through my lower back and took a couple of km to get into a decent stride but by that time I had lost more than a minute to Tim Reed, another Australian who was absolutely tearing along in the lead then Terrenzo, Cam and Merino all had spaced themselves out on the road in front of me.
As the race went on it seemed like Cam and Merino got stronger. Tim led the race until about 17km before being caught by Merino, and Cam ran into third place. I was caught by Romain Guillume with about 4km to go and had to settle for 5th place.
My trip to New Zealand was certainly an experience. It wasn't an Ironman like I had planned but I am extremely grateful that the race was able to go ahead as a shortened version and we were all able to have a race.
|Hukka Falls in Taupo|
After this I am back home for a few days before heading up to our team camp on the Sunshine Coast later in the month preparing for whatever may be next.
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