Wow-wee! What an unbelievable experience! Thank you all for your messages of support – I could feel it from you all back home whilst I was out on course, it really meant a lot to me.
Hawaii was by far the most efficient, well organised and high profile race I have ever competed in, but by far the toughest. Many pundits said it was the windiest race conditions for over a decade which made the ride leg a very tricky assignment: 180km’s in steaming hot and barren lava fields with side winds trying to blow you off your bike at every opportunity. The infamous ‘Mumuku’ winds were certainly giving us their very best!!
My race plan was to swim the 3.8km at a nice even relaxed tempo and come out of the water feeling strong, it’s important that the swim leg doesn’t tax you too much as you have such a long day ahead. This is exactly what I did, and the swim was a joy with such warm water and underwater scenery (fish/coral etc) and I completed it in 1hr 9mins. Probably a 9 minutes slower than I had hoped but it was a non-wetsuit swim and there was some chop and strong currents to contend with.
The plan on the bike was to ride around about 6 hours at a good steady pace to leave plenty of petrol in the tank for what was going to be a challenging run later in the day. With incredibly strong side winds for most of the bike the challenge turned out to be more about actually hanging onto the handlebars than worrying about time!! Coming down the hill from the half way turn at Hawi was terrifying as cyclists were getting blown all over the road (some came off), it became more about survival than worrying about cadence or speed. Despite all that I finished the bike in a credible 6hrs 23mins, but most importantly felt really strong onto the run leg. Nutrition and heat management on the bike is critical, as if you don’t get this right then you are walking the marathon due to dehydration and cramping, which is no fun for the competitor or family and friends waiting for you at various points on the run leg!
I was able to get around the 42km run leg in a tick over 4 hours which was pretty much aligned with my goals. I didn’t experience any discomfort and just chipped away at it, trying to get to each drink stop spaced a mile apart to refuel and refocus. There was some lonely times when we had to run back into the lava fields over the closing 15 km’s, but with the lure of the massive crowds at the finish line and my family there waiting for me, I was able to run all the way without walking once.
Coming down Ali’I Drive to the finish line was incredible – something I cannot put into words. It gives me goose bumps just writing about it now. The culmination of so many years of hard work and focus, its fair to say I was quite emotional over the last few hundred metres when I realised the job was done.
I would like to thank the NAB for all the support they have given me in achieving this, in particular Marcus, and my own team.
If you would like to learn more about my day in Kona or triathlon in general, please let me know and I will organise a time to talk it through over a coffee. I would strongly recommend the Big Island to anyone as a holiday destination, with its picture perfect beaches and guaranteed good weather.