And here’s today’s race report… the short version:
Competed at Ironman Western Australia today. Only my fourth outing at Ironman distance. Raced against some of my biggest heroes. Won! Totally pumped!
For those of you who want the longer version, here’s my IM Western Australia race report…
Welcome to Busselton
It’s always incredible to get out West – so different to the rest of Oz. It feels like the ‘real Australia’. 1200 competitors were ready to go at the crack of dawn and we all knew it was going to be a hot day on the course. Luke McKenzie and Luke Bell led out of the swim in 48:05. Conditions were perfect and I came out of the water in just over 50 minutes – only just in front of the first woman, New Zealander Gina Ferguson, who completed the swim leg in an impressive 50:30. The swim leg is definitely something I need to keep working on. My aim is to come out of the water with the front group.
Flat and furious
The bike leg at Busselton has been described as ‘pool table flat’ and it’s certainly fast. The two Lukes took off on the bike and I was trailing back in 6th place. I was in the chase group, led by the Argentinian Oscar Galindez and we caught Luke Bell at the 120km mark. As we came into T2, Danish athlete Jimmy Johnsen was leading, but only just. I came in just behind Jimmy with Galindez, Rix and McKenzie – a really tight chase pack. I knew Jason Shortis, a big hero of mine, wasn’t far behind.
I had a fast, fast transition and exited T2 in first, ahead of Jimmy and Luke McKenzie. Leon Griffin was in there too, hot on our heels. It just goes to show that a good transition can really set you up for the run.
Duelling with a legend
I got out onto the run feeling really good. Part of that was the fact that it was the first time that I’ve led a race since I’ve turned pro. At 24 years of age, it’s a pretty awesome feeling to be out in front of an international field and see no one ahead of you! At the same time, I was aware of the quality of the guys who were chasing me and knew it wasn’t going to be an easy run home.
I settled in to a solid pace and felt relaxed and strong. I was just savouring the moment and focusing on running smoothly. I was also keeping an eye on the time. I quickly established a 2:20 lead, but I knew that Jason Shortis was on my tail and he was not going to give up easily. How right I was!
Jason went past me at the 35km mark. He was charging. By that stage it was really starting to sting. I was surprised by how strong he looked. All I could do was pick him up and try and stay in contact. He was putting in these little surges to test me but I kept going with him. I could tell he was hurting though – so was I! Then I thought – I’ve got nothing to lose, so I dug deep, surged and then incredibly, just burned him off. He dropped back almost immediately. Thank goodness he had nothing left in the tank!
My first IM victory
It’s hard to describe how good it felt running towards the finish line. I’m 24 years old, only been a pro this year and now I was heading towards a podium finish. Running down the shoot was an amazing feeling. I’ve watched the footage and I’ve got this big grin all over my face. I could hear them playing “I’m too sexy” as I approached the tape. I leapt over the line and finished in 8:07:06. I even put in a race-best 2:48:51 run. Jason finished 3:51 further back, followed by Luke McKenzie.
So, how does it feel to win your first Ironman? I couldn’t believe that I’d done it. It’s incredible to get my first IM win at the age of 24, especially over the course record holder and IM legend, Jason Shortis. I joked to the media that there was no way I was going to let the ‘old bugger’ beat me, but the guy is a genuine legend and he’s been an inspiration to me and countless other young triathletes for many years.
Thanks to everyone who has supported me and especially to the spectators out on the course. It was a great day and now I’m looking forward to the future and what it holds for me. Right now though… I’m pumped!