Yesterday, I did my last Half Ironman race of 2009. There’s only one race left, and that’s the big one — the Ironman Western Australia. With only three weeks until the big race, I thought it was good to do a final shorter distance race at the 2009 Shepparton Half Ironman in Victoria. This race will always be one that I try to squeeze into my schedule because it is the place where I did my first Half Ironman years ago. I won this race in 2007, but I was unable to go back to defend my title in 2008 due to my preparation/recovery in the lead up to Busselton last year.
It was a busy weekend for triathlon around the world, with the 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, Florida, on Saturday, then the Campbell’s 2009 Shepparton Half Ironman, and the Compressport Long Course Championship in Forster, NSW. I’m glad that I chose the race in Victoria because several of the guys racing here will also be in Busselton, so it will be a good gauge to see how my training is going.
After racing in Port Macquarie two weeks ago, I knew that Jemani Francis would be one of the early ones out of the swim, but I wasn’t sure how the rest of the guys’ training has been going. As it turned out, there was a group of four that exited ahead of me, but I was only down by about 20 seconds. I came out of the water with Matty White, and I saw Jimmy Johnsen in the group ahead of me. Jimmy is an incredible cyclist, and a very respectable runner, so I knew that I was in with a chance if I could stay with those boys.
I was able to make up the slight deficit, to keep Jimmy in my sights, but he was riding like a madman. The course is dead flat, but when I looked down and saw we were maintaining a 50-km-an-hour pace. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sustain that speed for the entire race, so I chose to let him ride away in hopes that I’d have fresher legs on the run.
Jimmy had company with Michael Cupitt, and they were just out there to hammer it on the course. I felt we were riding pretty good, and I was riding with Matty White and my mate Nathan Stewart, but we also had swallowed up Jemani, as well as having Ollie Whistler and Richard Thompson for the duration of the ride.
When I arrived at T2, I was surprised to find out that Jimmy and Michael’s lead was 4:59 at the start of my run. I have raced against Jimmy many times, and I can typically outrun him, but giving up five minutes is too much over a half marathon course. My goal was to carve away as much time as possible, so I set out with a cracking pace. After all, this race was meant to be a hit out for Busselton, so I needed to test my body to see what it was capable of.
By the time I completed the first 7-km loop, I was only 5 seconds behind Michael, but I was told that Jimmy was still 3:15 ahead. The course is quite open, so you can look across the lake to see who is chasing you down. I felt my second lap went okay; however, I was told after 14 km that Jimmy’s split was still 2:59. So with only 7 km left, I knew that Jimmy and I were running at close to the same speed. I picked up my pace to see how well I could finish, and I ended up placing second to Jimmy, and only 43 seconds back.
I was really pleased with my run split, running a 1:14:08 Half Marathon, and posting a 3:52:29 for the Half Ironman. This is my third Half Ironman that I have done in the last six weeks, and each time I have been able to post the fastest run time, and my margin has been 4 to 4 1/2 minutes to the second fastest run of the day at each race.
2009 Shepparton Half Ironman Results: Top 5 Finish Times
- Jimmy Johnsen 3:51:46
- Tim Berkel 3:52:30
- Richard Thompson 3:56:18
- Matty White 3:57:08
- Paul Attard 3:58:37
Complete results for the 2009 Shepparton Half Ironman can be found here.
So now I have two weeks of hard training, before tapering for the Ironman Western Australia in Busselton on December 5. This race will be covered on Ironmanlive, so I hope you all have the time to log on and see how I progress on the day.