The 2009 Port Macquarie Half Ironman was my fourth race since my less-than-ideal performance at Roth. In August, I went into the Capricorn Half Ironman in Yeppoon, Queensland, ill-prepared, but I surprised myself with a second-place finish. That was a good confidence booster for not having done any real training for the five weeks prior to the event. I then went up to Port Douglas and won the Long Distance Triathlon up there for my second year in a row.
I came back from that race with some focus and started to put in some good training sessions, which got me another second place finish in the Gold Coast Half Ironman on October 4. I was a little disappointed that I let such a large gap form between myself and Clayton Fettell on the Gold Coast, but he just put together the perfect race, with an awesome swim/bike combination.
I knew I was going up against some good cyclist in the Scody Half Ironman here in Port Macquarie, so I had to be aware of the time gaps. On race morning, I was feeling pretty good, and I was getting a lot of good feedback from the local crowd. I love racing, but racing in Port Macquarie gives me that added buzz.
I was figuring that Cam Watt and Boyd Conrick were going to be the early leaders out of the swim. But I knew with cyclists like Bryan Fuller and Adam Holborow racing, it would be likely that their lead would get taken back in the bike. I just wanted to be in a position to keep pace with those boys. But as it turned out, Boyd didn’t have the swim I expected, and a relative newcomer named Jamani Francis came out of the water with just over a minute lead over my pack. I still felt that I was in a good position, because I had Joshua Rix, Adam, and Bryan Fuller in there with me, as well as the new young gun, Mitch Robbins, and a few other boys.
I had a good transition, and I was hoping that I could keep with that group for the first few kilometres as we rolled through town. We had only gone about a kilometre into the ride, and Adam went off the front as we rolled through the centre of town. Just as we started the slight rise up Clarence street, Brian attacked. I was still struggling to find my legs after the swim, and I wasn’t able to go with him. By the time I reached the top of Clarence Street, I could see Adam and Brian were together a few hundred meters up the road.
I knew that they would be focused on trying to catch Cam and Jamani, and I was hoping that the group that I was riding with was going to work with me in not letting the gap blowout to the race leaders. When we passed the boys on their way back from the first turnaround, I could see that they had opened up a gap of a few minutes. There were a few guys riding with me that weren’t willing to do any work, and maintaining the pace, so I had to drive the group for the majority of the race. However, I was happy to see Mitch Robbins up there in the front with me and having a go. Mitch being a local Port Macquarian, and racing in his first major event in the open category, was pretty cool to witness. We were both getting huge cheers from the crowds as we passed through the course.
I think we did a pretty good job of maintaining the pace, because by the time we made it into the transition area after the bike leg, I was told that Brian and Adam were just under four minutes ahead of us on the run course. I knew that if I was going to have a good day, it would be my run that would make the difference in this race. I quickly went to work of trying to chase down the boys. With the new three lap run course, it was easy to see if I was carving any time into their lead. I saw them for the first time about three quarters of the way through the first lap, and I knew I had already ran some time into that four minute lead. By the time I completed the first lap, I had already run down Adam, and I had Brian about 45 seconds up the road from me.
I was running a little too hard, and I could feel the pace taking its toll on me, but the crowds were spurring me on, so I maintain my pace until I passed Brian to take the lead. As I passed him, I felt that he didn’t have enough left in the tank to respond to my attack, so I surged ahead, and I immediately felt much more comfortable with my run. I was only halfway through the run leg, but I was able to relax a little bit, and focus on my turnover. I had a nice smooth rhythm and it felt great, so I was able to appreciate the crowds. I think I even smiled a few times. On the three lap course, I could see that I was running away from the other boys, but I could see my good mate Mitch making his way through the field. Adam struggled a bit on the run, but once he found his rhythm he was able to hang in there for fifth place. Mitch ran his way into second, so it was incredible for Port Macquarie to have the winner, second place, and Adam rounding out the top five. I ended up posting the fastest run of the day with a 1:15:30, which was four minutes faster than the second fastest run of the day.