I only decided relatively late to head over to the west and compete in Busso 70.3. My form earlier in the year was promising and it seemed logical to keep the momentum rolling and continue to race late in the season. I finished 14th last year in a race that featured many big players in the Australian long course scene. This year also contained many big names but contained about half of the total number of pros racing. With this in mind I had set my goals high and combined with the current form, I was confident leading into the race.
I thoroughly enjoyed the trip over to Busselton last year as I had never been to the region and was able to explore some of the local areas. This year however it was a ‘quick’ trip over and back exclusively for the race. The event organisers put on a first class event and cater very well to the pros that attend. The weather gods were looking over us the entire weekend with ideal conditions on both the Saturday and Sunday.
Sunday morning greeted us with cool, calm and clear conditions. Staying within a very short walk to transition and race start allowed for a very relaxed race morning and plenty of time to get in the right head space. The water was a cool 18C, which meant wetsuit, and the water was crystal clear with the bottom always in sight throughout the swim. My swim starts have been what I would call a weakness in my previous races and unfortunately this continued once the gun fired at Busselton. Within 200-300 metres two distinct packs had formed, with 6 athletes in each. Despite going hell for leather at the start I was unable to make the first pack which meant I slotted comfortably into the second pack. This would remain unchanged for the entire swim, with our group exiting about 2 mins down on first 6 athletes. A quick side note – later in the day we were informed that a shark had been sighted and tracked within close range of the swim area and eventually came too close for comfort with organisers having to cancel the swim leg for all team competitors. I am glad we were not informed of this before the race, although that may have made for some faster swimming!
Out of T1, our swim pack formed a rolling line of bikes as we headed out on the flat and fast roads around Busselton. Having recently got on board with Parcour Wheels I was excited to take the Chrono/Disc combo for their first hard race hit out. I can genuinely say that this Parcour wheelset is as fast as wheelsets that cost three times a much, but what really struck me was how amazingly comfortable the wheels were to ride. The majority of the ride is on smooth roads, however when the roads became coarse bitumen the wheels soaked up the bumps with ease which allowed the body to remain perfectly comfortable and more importability the legs to keep the power down consistently. Once our group settled in we ticked over a steady but not hard pace for the first lap of two. I was racing to feel on the bike due to an issue with my power meter pre-race, which is something I have not been accustomed to over the past few years since investing in a power meter. The effort felt strong throughout the entire 90km ride but once you get familiar with riding to numbers I believe you lose the ability to gauge the effort levels precisely, and in hindsight I believe I rode to conservatively for the majority of the ride. That said, I still averaged 42km/h for the bike split so it was not steady sailing!! The second lap was uneventful on the bike with our group of 4 athletes working at a solid pace but still losing some 4 minutes to the front group.
Off the bike I was sitting in 10th place with some work to do on the run to get me up the leader board. The run has been an area of late that I feel has been ticking over very nicely. With a 33mins for a 10km fun run two weeks ago I knew I had some speed in the legs. I immediately settled into 3:30-3:35/km pace with the goal to hold this for as long as possible!! The run consists of 3x7km out and back loops along the foreshore, with plenty of opportunities to see how far athletes are ahead/behind you. I passed 3 athletes early on which bumped me up into 7th place, only one spot out of the money. I’m not going to lie, during the run once I knew that the podium was not achievable I was dead set certain that I had to get into 6th place and take home at the very least some prize money!!
I was still several minutes down on 6th after the first lap and had some work to do. Around the half way mark is where things started to get interesting. The body began to fatigue, which took me by surprise as I felt I was in a great place up until then. Again with the benefit of hindsight, this fatigue was probably due to poor hydration management in the first half of the run. With two laps down I was able to see 6th place was beginning to fade and if I was able to hold my pace I would be able to catch him before the finish. The gap slowly dropped and with around 3km’s to go I made the pass into 6th. The final 3km became survival and I crossed the line in 3:56 and 6th place. And in the money!!
I am very happy with how I fought right to the end of the race and was able to take home 6th in a very high quality field. I know there is room for improvement in several areas and will sit down now and put together a plan to turn those weaknesses into strengths.
Big thanks to those who support me the AthletesFoot, SkinStrong, ABCpure coaching and Parcour Wheels. It is you guys that make the dream more achievable.
More importantly, an even bigger thank you to my family, Aimee and Lucy, for being the best support crew in every day of my life.