The fight for King of Kingscliff

If I was to call any event my ‘local’ race it would be the Kingscliff Triathlon. Living only 15 minutes from the event creates a very relaxed lead up, without the hassles of flights, accommodation and sleeping in an uncomfortable bed! The weeks running into the race went smoothly and with no longer course racing on the immediate horizon, the training had involved less volume, which allowed more freshness leading into race day.

My plan was quite simple, as it is these days with Olympic distance racing. Go hard from the start, bury myself in the ride and hold it together for the run. With some younger speedsters racing I was aware that I realistically needed to have a substantial gap coming off the bike to hold off their blistering run times. I was confident with my biking form leading in but as with all races you never know if the body is going to cooperate until the gun goes and the blood starts pumping.

The swim is straight forward. One way, down river and usually current assisted in Kingscliff creek. The first 150m to the turn buoy turned out to be more of smash and splash then I expected, with the old noggin getting a few more hits than planned. Once out of the biff I was among 3 other athletes who I thought would be around me. Several other faster swimmers put a gap into us early which meant we were left to minimise the damage. The tide was just off full which made for glorious conditions. Through most of the swim you were able to see the bottom and sighting was never an issue.

Mid way through the swim you wind through the shallower parts of the creek and need to ensure you sight correctly to take the shortest route to the exit. Mistakably I decided to follow the feet in front of me which accidentally meant we took a longer path down the creek and at one stage had to swim under a rope designed to keep on course!! A basic rule of open water swimming is always take responsibility for the direction you are swimming and never trust that the swimmer in front of you is taking the right line. I exited the water about 90 seconds behind the front guys with some work to do on the bike.

From the get go on the bike I was keen to lay it down. The course is 4 flat out and back laps on closed roads. I was with two others athletes exiting T2 but immediately went to the front and pushed hard into the head wind heading out for lap one. I had one goal in mind for the bike and that was to push early and then hold on for as long as possible. At the first turnaround I caught a glimpse of the athletes ahead and could see that had a fairly healthy lead, which only fuelled my drive more. I allowed Lindsay Wall to lead heading back into town for the first lap where we were sitting on speeds around 50km/h due to the strong tail wind. Heading out onto the second lap I again pushed the pace hard in the wind and this time I could see we were making inroads into 2 athletes ahead, one of which I knew I needed to have an advantage of several minutes coming off the bike due to his blistering run leg. The same pattern continued for each lap and my power numbers were exactly where they needed to be and I knew that I had put down a good bike time. Heading into T2 I was about 2 minutes down on the leader and only about 45 seconds ahead of the athlete I knew would post a run split 1-2 minutes faster than me. Nonetheless I was keen to don the running shoes and get into the 10km.

Photo - @koruptvision @austrimag

The run course hits you hard from the start with a short sharp pinch up a road leading out of T2 before heading back down an easier gradient on the others side. From there it is essentially a flat out and back before repeating again for 2 laps total. Having only a small lead on the flying runners I knew I had to push from the start and maintain fast splits to stay ahead. I was shocked at about 2.5km in, when Brandon Copeland came bounding past, having thought I had more time in my pocket! This put me into third place, trailing Brandon and leader off the bike. The legs felt surprisingly good given the hard effort I had put into the bike and was relatively comfortable at 3:30/km pace for the first lap. Heading past transition at the end of the first lap I made the pass on the leader off the bike and moved into second place. With 5km to go, and holding down second place the aim was to maintain the 3:30/km pace which would ensure no athletes behind would have the chance to catch me. Up and over the pinch for the second time and I was in a good place, holding good running form and breathing comfortably. By now it was starting to warm up and the humidity was sitting up in the high 70’s, making the fluid pour out of your skin. I was able to hold down my planned 3:30km and cross the line in second place, a little over a minute behind the leader.

I was pleased with my race and barring the zig-zag swim couldn’t have asked for my day to go any different. The numbers were great and the body genuinely felt strong. Had the swim detour been avoided the outcome may have been different but I only have myself to blame. From here I will sit down and plan the next few months with some more longer course racing on the cards.

A big thanks to my supporters, The Athletes Foot (Pacific Fair and Tweed City), SkinStrong, Border Bikes and as always my family and friends who’s cheers got me around on the weekend.

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Copyright (c) Daniel Stein 2014