The Ironman Asia-Pacific Championships are held in Melbourne in March. This is the only Ironman in Australia where you can have ‘big city’ experience, and run in one direction from Frankston to the bayside suburb of St.Kilda. Known as a fast race with swim and wind conditions varying each year, and not an easy run with undulating hills - and not great for spectators having to follow their competitors all the way to the finish line.
SARAH AND DANIEL HOWITT
WTC Members 5 & 19 years
Raced: Ironman Distance
Age Group: 30-34 (both)
Why triathlon? We absolutely love the sport. It is a way of life for us.
Triathlon goal for 2015: To finish 2 Ironmans - one down and one to go…. Ironman Canada Here we come!!!
Why this race? Seemed like a good idea a year ago. 1 year ago we welcomed our beautiful daughter into the world and this Ironman seemed like the perfect way for us to get back into Ironman racing. The point to point run intrigued us and riding out on the freeway was something we were both really keen to experience. Plus Melbourne is a great place for our support crew (parents) to visit as well.
SUMMARISE THE COURSE:
Swim: Was actually beautiful (wasn’t expecting it to be like this). Watching previous coverage of this race we weren’t sure what the swim was going to bring but this year it was quite flat, clear and the rolling start ensured a less crowded experience.
Bike: Beautiful smooth road surface but it wasn’t a very picturesque. Cycling on the Eastlink freeway was definitely an experience. Battling into the wind in one direction was character building but then having the wind behind you in the other direction was fantastic. Overall the course is a fast bike course. Great place to do a PB.
Run: Point to point run from Frankston to St Kilda. It was good in some respects as you feel like you are running with a purpose from one place to another however I think it is also quite lonely and very challenging for spectators. I (Sarah) only saw my family twice on the run – at about 2km and then at 41km. That is a lot of time without really seeing anyone. It is mentally tough not seeing family members regularly. Not knowing when you are going to see people you know can be difficult to get your head around especially when you are going through a rough patch.
Favourite part of the race: Both of us found the last 45km of the bike great (nice big tail wind). Also Last 1km of the run – there is no greater feeling than running down the M-dot carpet in the finishing chute of an Ironman.
How did your race pan out? All things considered we both had quite good races. We had a very different Ironman prep this time around. Trying to both train, work and look after our new daughter was challenging. We certainly weren’t able to get in as much training as we have for past Ironmans but were able to get most of our key training sessions done with the help of our amazing families i.e. 4am baby sitters.
Sarah: My race started pretty well – my swim was OK but most importantly I enjoyed it and managed to conserve lots of energy by swimming within myself. I was really pleased with my bike. Heading out on the second lap was really challenging as we were heading into a strong headwind. I just tried to keep calm and be patient and was looking forward to the assistance I was going to get as soon as I made the turn. The last 45km of the bike was fantastic. Having the tailwind was amazing. My run started off really well. I felt great for the first 25km then things started to get difficult. I was super proud of myself for holding things together to finish the race off. I was overall extremely happy with my race.
Daniel: It was a stress free morning arriving at transition before it opened and found myself near the front for the rolling start swim. It was a tough swim start with a long wade before I found feet to sit on for the next 50-odd minutes. I felt good at coming out of the water and had a smooth transition. Out on the bike I felt like I was off course, no one in front of me and no one behind me. I conserved early knowing there’d be a headwind next time out. I enjoyed the bike until getting chicked by a very quick WTC member. The relief of getting a bike seat out from between your legs is countered by the realisation of a 42km run. Felt great on the run and was motivated knowing there were WTC athletes up ahead. Hitting halfway was where things got tough and I begun walking aid stations. They seemed to get further and further apart. Set myself a goal of not walking from 36km and while its wasn’t fast, I was still catching plenty which gave me motivation. The final km took an eternity but once rounding the bend into the chute I couldn’t feel anything. Not ashamed to say there were tears, it had be a long challenging preparation but I was so stoked to get to the line in under 10hrs. It was the goal at the start of the day and I’d made it with a few minutes to spare!
Lowlight from the day: Not seeing my family throughout the run. (Sarah)
What I learnt: Patience is key in Ironman. Have a race plan and try to stick to it. (Sarah)
How did you get there from Sydney? Flew down from Sydney on the Thursday before the race.
How long to get there? Pretty easy journey. Took a couple of hours. Actually flew into Avalon Airport – which was really easy (no lines etc when we arrived). Hired a car and then drove to St Kilda.
Where did you stay and what was it like? We stayed at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Great location – walking distance to Ironman expo etc and close to all the cafes in St Kilda.
Would you return or what other accommodation options would you recommend? Yes I think we would return.
Favourite place to eat? Abbey Road and Rococo
Other things to do in this location (apart from the race)? What!!! There are other things to do other than race??? Seriously… exploring the Coffee culture in Melbourne is great. Shopping, Shopping, Shopping. I didn’t really get a chance to do much of this but would definitely do more of this next time!
Highlight of the race and the event overall? Highlight of the race was finally seeing our daughter when we started the run. And seeing her and our families post race!
Would you return? Yes
"Running down the shoot was an amazing feeling and getting to see my family, girlfriend and friends on the way through the shoot was something I won’t be forgetting
BY DAVE KENNETT
Being fairly new to Triathlon, after only trading the rugby jersey for lycra 2 years ago, Ironman Australia (IMOZ) was to be my second Ironman after completing Ironman New Zealand only nine weeks prior.
Immediately after Ironman NZ, I was looking forward to going toe-to-toe with the Port Macquarie course after having done a couple of 70.3’s there. However my body might wasn’t so enthusiastic. For the first couple of weeks after the race my legs were cactus and my body was tired.
I gave myself three light weeks just training for enjoyment and keeping things easy and then got cracking back into ‘full-structured training’ following the same six-week program as I completed prior to NZ.
I managed 9.57 at IMNZ so I was interested to see how my body would respond in a fairly short time and back up for IMOZ. I was hoping I could go a tad quicker.
The weeks leading into IMOZ went pretty well. My mind was willing but unfortunately I had a few little niggles that meant I had to modify my training a little bit, particularly my running sessions and volume. An Achilles niggle that lasted 4-5 weeks meant that I became very well acquainted with the grass at Curly Park. Just as the Achilles started to come good, I then developed some knee pain which I self-diagnosed as Patella Tendonitis. With only 3 weeks to go, after each run my knee would seize up and become very painful so I started getting a bit worried of how it would respond to a 42km flogging. About 10 days out from race day I decided not to run any more as my knee was getting worse and spent my extra time hoping, stretching, rolling and massaging my quads and peroneals, in the hope that my very tight quads might be affecting my patella tracking.
I travelled up to Port on the Thursday night with my old man. Friday, I had a swim in the river with a mate, nailed a few coffees, registered and checked out the expo a little bit and then tried to relax for the day. On Saturday morning I had quick ride and then returned to give the buffet at Rydes a good touch up. I dropped off my bike and all my gear off at transition at about lunch time and then put my feet up for the rest of the day, trying to be relaxed as possible about the big day ahead. The weather man’s prediction of 40-50km/hr+ westerlies and his comment that the “ironman competitors at Port Macquarie this weekend will really have to earn it” didn’t exactly help my relaxed mantra but I managed to get a fairly good sleep the night before the race, something I normally don’t do to well. I woke up at 3.30am to have my last solid food before the race, tried to get a little bit more shut eye and then I was on my way down to transition at about 5am.
This year at Port we were pioneering the rolling swim start in Australia. I got myself in the sub-60 minute group and lined up with the other competitors as ACDC blared out from the speakers. My plan for the swim was to relax early, after not having the opportunity to warm up, and try and stay on people’s feet throughout the swim. I felt pretty good throughout the swim, unlike the swim in NZ, and after stacking it down the stairs at the weir crossing I made to T2 in a time of 52.25, a couple of minutes faster than I’d hoped.
Into T2, the volunteers helped pull of my wetty off and put the arm warmers on and I was out and onto the road in a few minutes.
My plan for the bike was to take it easy on the first lap, particularly on the hills going out of town and ‘ride like someone who will run well’. I feel like I managed to stick to that plan fairly well and vibrated my way down to the turnaround in fairly good time.
On the way back into town the wind really started to get up so I tried to hold myself back a little bit for 2nd lap. My bike tyre started feeling a bit weird about 30km away from town and I realised a had a slow leak puncture, meaning I could feel the rim hitting the ground if I went over any of the many bumps that the Port Macquarie roads are renowned for. I made it into town and to a Shimano mechanic tent and a combination of the sealant I’d put in my tyres before the race and the air that the mechanics track pump provided, helped to get me on my way , only losing a few minutes in the process.
On the 2nd lap, my thoughts were on my bike wheel which helped distract me from the rattling the roads were dishing out. The wind had become very strong by now, bringing the pace right down in certain parts of the course. As the wind strengthened, I made a conscious effort to just ride completely on feel and not to look at my watch so I didn’t get disappointed by seeing my pace drop as the wind picked up. Heading back into town I was looking forward to getting off the bike and getting stuck into the marathon. Overall I managed a time of 5.23.57 on the bike which I was fairly pleased with considering the course and the conditions.
I knew the race would really begin towards during the second half of the run and I was interested/nervous about how my body would respond after NZ and with the recent niggles I’d had. I had thrown a few Voltarens in the back pocket of my top, just in case anything went pear-shaped.
Port is a 4 lap run course, so I planned to run conservatively in the first 2 laps and then hold it together as best I could for the ‘business end’ of the run. Out of T2, I felt fairly good and tried to hold myself back and ticked through the first 15-20km’s in an average pace of about 4.50k pace.
The wind was even playing havoc on the run course, making particular sections, such as along the break wall and out along the water, very difficult and making it hard to keep a rhythm. It really was a great day to fly a kite.
The crowd support in and around town gave you a real boost on each lap and the volunteers were outstanding, doing their best to keep us all hydrated and fuelled throughout the run.
At about the 29km mark, pretty much the same point on the run in NZ, I realised I had one foot firmly placed in the hurt locker and things were about to get very tough. From my experiences in NZ I knew this point in the race would come but I was hoping it would be a little closer to home this time around. My splits really started to slow at this point, particularly in the wind exposed sections. Before I knew it, I was well and truly locked in the hurt locker and it was a mental game for the last 12km’s. On my way back into town and to the finish line I managed to pick up the pace a little as well as surprise a few other competitors with the weird grunting noise I was unintentionally making as a struggled along to the finishing shute.
After such a tough day, running down the shoot was an amazing feeling and getting to see my family, girlfriend and friends on the way through the shoot was something I won’t be forgetting any time soon.
After struggling through the back end of the run I came in with a run split of 3.25.48, a couple of minutes faster than what I ran in NZ and an overall time of 9.47 and a 5th in my age group.
Having a few beers and watching the other competitors come in throughout the night was very inspiring and I’m looking forward to racing IMOZ next year and hopefully for many years ahead.
Thank you to the volunteers and congratulations to all the other WTC competitors, some amazing results by all. Another big thank you to Pete McClean and Rog De Paula Assis for sharing their knowledge and experience with me, your advice really helped me in both IM’s.
Thanks everyone, happy training.
My advice to anyone contemplating doing
BY TIM O’HALLLORAN
Having had a long term goal to complete an Ironman, the time came last year when I felt the time was right. Having 3 young children to raise (with the help of my super supportive wife!) and a busy business to run I knew that I needed to step back slightly in both departments and concentrate strongly on getting fit for the IM and my goal became 2014 PIM. With the kids a bit older and business OK 2014 was going to be my year!!
I joined up with the good folk of Warringah TC for an introduction into Triathlon and entered every Club Race I could for the 2013 year. To get in shape for the PIM 14 I made a bit of a plan and lined up the Canberra 70.3 which I completed in December and then Huskisson 2/14. After Huskisson I then had about 9 clear weeks to really sharpen up on and I threw myself into this with gusto.
I took advantage of the WTC structured swim sessions at Narrabeen and also a number of running classes with Andy. Andy has the distinct honor of after 37 years of side breathing to get me breathing both side on the swim – a huge breakthrough!! Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!
I certainly had some challenges during the training, mainly not enough hours in the day as well as 2 bike crashes – one slip on a wet road, the other being knocked off my bike by a kangaroo at Duffys Forest. Both accidents took me out of around 2.5 weeks in total which affected the rhythm of my training and I lost some crucial big build weeks around 6 weeks out from race day.
I travelled up to PIM with my support crew of wife and 3 kids in tow and a bunch of nerves, my main concern – have I done enough training/am I prepared for this???? Probably not a unique thought to IM competitors and not a thing I could do about it at that point so no point stressing to much so we just immersed ourselves in the event, the beaches and counted down to the event. One of my daughters did the IronKids and loved it, the other two not old enough, next year!
After an almost sleepless night I was picked up on race morning by my 2 friends/main training buddies also doing the event - both seasoned campaigners and was comforted to hear my friend Ben say that he too had an almost sleepless night on the eve of his 16th IM....I was in good company!!!
We completed our final preparations at bike transition and walked around to the swim start. I bade farewell and good luck to the boys and joined the 60-67mins (my race goal was 60 minutes) roll start group. Before I knew it I was walking down the ramp and swimming......relief – I was finally racing!! I just concentrated on nice even strokes and finding some space which was easy enough given the self seed rolling start. I just settled into an easy rhythm and before long we were at the first crossing - up and out of the water - I snuck a quick look at my Garmin – 1.28/100M – ripper!! – I was slightly ahead of my goal time and feeling good. Back in and keep going.....soon enough we were at the turnaround point and on the way home.... I was feeling great and looking around taking it all in, the spectators and the environment loving every minute – 2nd weir crossing and holding my time nicely. Under the bridge and another few hundred metres later we turned for the final leg home, I could see the transition marquee and spectators starting to loom up in front of me......I could hear the commentators and the crowd, final turn at the buoy and a short burst to the exit ramp, up I go.....check the Garmin 58.25min.....better than expected!! fantastic - first leg down and Im happy - feeling great!
I run through transition and collect my gear, helped out of the suit into my bike kit by a kind volunteeer and in the flash of eye Im pedaling away. Coming through town I see my family for the first time, the sight of them cheering with a big Go Daddy brings a little tear to the eye, I give them a big wave and a yell then continue on....then the reality sinks in, I had never ridden 180kms before, my longest training ride was 140ks on nice smooth Sydney roads, this was going to be a big test. I was also fearing the winds......we had done a quick ride the previous day in very strong winds and the same conditions were predicted today.....just hope I can get the bulk of the ride in before they hit.... I concentrated on getting comfortable, working into the race and as importantly - making sure Im enjoying myself – the scenery and the amazing atmosphere the spectators create. Out and back towards Port I was happy with my progress sitting well hovering around the 33ks/hour mark which was my target. Coming into town I was greeted with the sight of the hill that is Matthew Flinders Drive – wow I thought – that’s going to hurt – especially on the second lap with 175ks under the legs!!!..... drop the gears out of the saddle and a furious pedal up – great crowd support!! then continue on into town. It was around here that I started to feel the wind for the first time.... At Flynns beach I saw my family again out the front of our accommodation cheering me on and that gave me a big boost! Back into town at the halfway I was feeling great and looking forward to a strong second lap. Out of town the winds really made their presence felt and the whole way down to the turnaround was a battle. I was watching my average speed drop down below 30ks for the outbound leg and I was working hard at this point to maintain it.....damn!! My only consolation was hoping the wind held its direction for the return. Saying a little thank you to the wind gods - the way home was fast but around 10ks out of town my neck and shoulder started to cramp/spasm and I was hoping this would resolve itself before the run. It was with some relief that I made my way into town towards transition!! I still felt pretty good although I knew I had burned a lot of energy in that wind – my mind then turned to the run....I had run 1 marathon before this in isolation – and that was tough – hows it going to be with close to 7 hours racing behind me.....this was going to be interesting !!! Reasonably happy with my time of 5.53min (30.4K Avg) considering the wind and hard roads. I steeled myself for the feeling of jumping off the bike after close to 6 hours...
Off the bike and into the run – almost done (I really was kidding myself there!!) 2 down 1 to go - wow – that neck/shoulder issue made life very unpleasant straight away! I saw my family on the side and stopped to give them a quick cuddle then back into it! I tried to get into a rhythm but struggled – and that bloody wind!!! I thought I had seen the last of it on the ride but there it was again, seemingly in my face or to my side knocking me around, making life harder than it needed to be....around the 15k mark looking at my Garmin I could see my target time slowly slipping away......this was getting hard!! I settled into a routine of walking through aid stations eating and drinking then shuffling off to the next one. At about the 28k mark I tried to down a gel, then bang, back up it came – and seemingly everything else I had consumed that day!!! I calculated I had about 90 minutes left to run so would still need fuel so pushed along to the next aid station to get some water in....again up it came. At this point I became concerned – I was still a long way from home, mechanically I felt fine, legs were OK and my neck issues seemed to have resolved itself (sort of) but I was unable to hold down a bit of water......would I pass out later due to dehydration?? What should I do?? It was shortly after this I saw my mate Ben passing the other direction and told him my tale of woe....a quick pep talk from him – ‘mate you signed up for this, this is Ironman, if it was easy everyone would do it – you’ve got one lap to go so get into it!’.....fair enough, can’t argue with that! Harden up son!!
The K’s continued to roll on, still no luck holding anything down....I started to feel progressively weaker and shaky but before long I was making the final turn for home, coming across the bridge I could see the laser lights from the finish area lighting up the sky – about 3ks from home nothing was going to stop me now. I knew my family were waiting in the finish shoot for me and this thought kept me going. Collect the final wrist band, for the first time that day I allowed to think to myself – Im about to be an Ironman!!!
Before long I could see the finish area – I was going to make it – I had done it!!! I scanned the shoot for my family – there they were all 4 of them going wild near the finish line – a big group hug from them all – what a moment! This was what it was all about!! – my beautiful wife had pulled 3 young kids around for close on 12 hours in a cold and windy day – what a champion effort!! I left them and crossed the finish line – 11.45 – for some reason I didn’t hear the ‘Tim O’Halloran you are an Ironman’ as I seemed to finish in a bunch but I didn’t care – I made it!! All those early morning starts/long lonely runs after work had been worth it in that very moment. What a great experience and one Ill never forget!
It was apparent pretty quickly I was suffering dehydration so I was taken through to the medical tent for an IV – what an amazing setup and a wonderful bunch of people. Before long I had absorbed 5 litres and feeling fresh as daisy, felt like I could have gone around again!!! I really must have been delusional!! My wife picked me up and I saw my exhausted family, I don’t know who had a tougher day??
Port Mac IM is a superbly run, incredible event and I will certainly be back. The Tri community is such an inspiring, motivating bunch of people – I want my family exposed to it as much as possible.
My advice to anyone contemplating doing an IM - just do it! And if you have family – take them on the journey with you (as much as you can) and involve them in it. All of my kids now want to be an Ironman!! What a healthy and great example to set for them. It is extremely rewarding and a great experience! One Im keen to continue on. First thing I did when I got back to work on Tuesday was look for another race – Im now booked in for Melbourne next year and keen to improve my time. (Plus figure out the nutrition aspect!!!!!)
Thanks for listening to my story, everyone has their own IM story and people take part for a whole bunch of different reasons. What I found out for me is IM is a great metaphor for life in general –fake it and you’ll be found out - persistence, consistency and sheer determination will get you there in the end.
Finally – massive thanks to the Warringah TC for getting me started and although I don’t train a lot with the Club as I live in St Ives and logistically its difficult. Im proud to be a member and also a HUGE thanks to the awesome Volunteers on Race day – they really made my day!
"Best moment of the day, crossing the finishing line
Kurt and Julie Hunziker had a few challenges before arriving at the start line of Ironman Australia in Port Macquarie last month. For Julie, it was never thinking she would enter an Ironman but she did, and now she needed to fit in her training while still working and managing a household with three kids. For her husband Kurt, it was recovering from an accident after hitting a kangaroo while training. But they finished, crossing the line hand-in-hand with Julie winning her age group - and now their off to Kona! Here are their race day stories:
BY Julie Hunziker
Friday 2nd May 2014 – Athlete Welcome Dinner. “Please stand up if this is your first Ironman”. Yep that’s me, 1 of over 645 athletes doing their first Ironman. I feel a lot more at ease now I know how many of us are tackling this great race for the first time.
I never thought I would enter an Ironman. Like a lot of other triathletes I have spoken too, I felt I didn’t have the confidence or ability to 1.Participate in a mass swim start and 2. compete the swim distance required. For a number of reasons, I put those thoughts aside and entered the Port Macquarie Ironman.
I’m a strong runner, so my main objective for training where to maintain my run fitness and focus primarily on my swimming and cycling endurance and skills. I’m relatively new to triathlon and so bike skills, especially on a TT bike where a must.
My alarm sounded at 4am and I rose to eat my breakfast and prepare myself for the day ahead. I love to visualise and I had been doing this for a number of weeks beforehand – visualising the perfect race. I continued this on the morning of my race to ensure I remained positive and didn’t let the nerves of the swim start, never mind the rest of the race get to me.
My primary goal was to finish. I really had no idea what I was in for, I had a pretty good lead up to Port Macquarie – did the training, no major illnesses or injuries and so I knew that if I raced according to my plan, I would have a great day out.
Massive thumbs up to the Rolling Swim Start. Basically, you seed yourself in one of five start groups based on time. Then you gradually make your way through the coral to the front of the line at which point about 10 people start at the one time. Athlete’s timing chips activate once you cross the start line. While athletes seemed uncertain as to exactly how the rolling swim start was to take place, in the end I believe it relieved a lot of anxiety and stress. I heard nothing but positive feedback and I also heard of a lot of swim PBs. The weir crossing was unique and I liked it as it gave me the opportunity to break the swim up into segments.
I had a great swim, stuck to plan – swim comfortably, remain relaxed and breathe!
Yikes, it was windy and if you know the Port Macquarie 70.3 or Ironman bike courses you know that they are hilly. Thankfully us Warringah Tri Club members have West Head and Akuna Bay to thank for being strong hill climbers.
While I was hoping for a faster bike spilt, I think so did 95% of the other athletes. The wind was a major player. Again I stuck to my plan which was to stick to certain heart rate averages which were to increase every 45km or so.
The Lesson to learn from the bike – practice on my race wheels in the wind. While I only rode on 60mm front and back wheel, I was still significantly blown around, especially on lap 2 making it difficult for me to stay in an aero position.
By far my strongest leg. 4 lap course with one hill each lap. My plan was to break the run up into 4 segments, one for each lap. I maintained the same pace from start to finish which was amazing. I would have like to negative spilt but I was enjoying it too much to worry about pushing myself beyond the line so to speak.
I don’t have much to go by other than a few half ironman distances, but I have to say that the volunteers where outstanding. So supportive, so positive, so helpful. Without them, I would not have enjoyed the day as much as I did, nor would I have been able to get my socks on in transition! As for the spectators, WOW. Again, another great bunch of people who got me up every single hill. A big thankyou each and every one of you!
Best moment of the day, crossing the finishing line hand-in-hand with my husband. Who would have thought that after over 10 hours, that would be in the relm of possibility –Amazing! Just for the record, he did have to wait 30 seconds for me to catch up before we entered the finishers shoot together!
I thought I would be ready to hang up my bike and running shoes, but I’m more motivated than ever and look forward to competing in KONA after winning my age category! Kids are very excited!
JULIE WAS ALSO FEATURED AS FIRST OFF THE BIKES AGE GROUPER OF THE MONTH - READ THEIR STORY ON HER PERFORMANCE HERE
BY Kurt Hunziker
Ironman mornings start early and this was no exception. My alarm went off at 4 and I quickly rose to eat my cereal, make coffee and go through the final preparation. This was my second Iron distance race and I was excited but relaxed as for me this year the challenge was getting myself fit enough to make it to the start line in time. On Feb 11th I hit a kangaroo on my bike whilst on an early morning training ride to West Head. As a result I ended up in Intensive Care at Mona Vale Hospital with a collapsed lung, fractured pelvis, broken ribs and broken collar bone. At the time it seemed that it was going to be impossible for me to compete in the race.....my wife even contacted the organisers to withdraw my entry.
As a result, I was stoked just to be walking to transition to top up my tyres and load my nutrition on to my bike and felt confident that I was ready for the task at hand. New for me this year was going through the routine with my wife who was competing in her 1st full distance race. She is a real competitor who is super dedicated and focussed and I was excited to see how well she was going to do.
You could say that with only 11 weeks for recovery the race for me was to the start line not from it.....but I still had the task at hand. The swim is my weakest leg and deciding on a start group was surprisingly difficult. With past injuries I really didn't want to be swum over but I also wanted to come out close enough to good riders to ensure I didn't get complacent on the ride. I chose to go to the front of the 60-67 minute cage. The rolling start worked perfect with my wife heading off 5 seconds ahead of me. I found enough room to be comfortable and still found similar paced athletes to draft off. I stayed relaxed although I had some difficulty spotting the cans amongst the sailboats and splash of the hundreds of swimmers ahead. The conditions and water temperature were perfect although it felt slightly colder once you crossed the weir. The weir crossing was well organised and allows for you to easily break up the swim in to components. I felt good the whole way around the swim course and was stoked to come out of the water in 62 minutes, well ahead of my goal but I didn't feel as though I over did it.
I generally try to keep transition simple, only filling my bags with things I need so I have no decisions to make when passing through. The forecasted temperature was 10 degrees with a chance showers and winds gusting to 40kmh. For this reason I planned to wear sleeves and gloves for the bike leg. Whilst I had trained in this set of kit before, one thing that I neglected to practice before hand was putting on my sleeves and gloves while wet. This is surprisingly difficult and as time ticked away I decided to abandon them. I grabbed my sunnies before getting up to run from the tent. At that point I came to my wisdom and remembered it was going to be chilly so I grabbed my sleeves and gloves and ran out of the tent. I knew the bike rack next to me was vacant so I stood to the side and once again took on the mission of getting sleeves and gloves on. The run to my bike was enough to get me dry enough that the impossible was now possible and I was quickly off on my bike.
I knew the bike course having done the 70.3 in 2012 and ridden it on a couple of other occasions. I really didn't want too overdue it on the hills heading out of town so I took it easy and settled in to my rhythm. By the top of the first hill I could feel it coming on.......I had to pee. At the first aid station I briefly considered stopping but I really didn't want to give away the time. Unfortunately I had neither the desire or ability to relieve myself from the saddle……perhaps an improvement opportunity for the future. As a result, all I can remember from the ride is 5 hours of thinking how badly I needed to pee. I am sure I lost a fair bit of time contemplating stoping at every opportunity and assessing my ability to pee on the move. I still managed to keep to my nutrition and hydration plan and finish in 5:40. Yes there was wind but it really wasn’t that bad. At least not as bad as the pain in my bladder!
T2 took 3 minutes and 32 seconds. Over three minutes of that time was spent in the Portaloo.
I was a renewed man with a spring in my step as I ran from the change tent. I checked my pace at the first km mark and as usual was heading off at an unsustainable pace for me (4:20/km). The hill immediately corrected my pace and as I came around and on to the break-wall I really felt the wind. It was annoying and disheartening as the reality of 40 more kms of running began to sink in. I knew what I was in for and tried to stay positive by convincing myself how much better the wind was then the heat and humidity that often exists on race days in Aus.
I like the four lap course. It makes it easy to break the run up in to small achievements such as summiting ‘the hill’, making the turnaround at settlement point and collecting lap bands each lap. On this day I also had the pleasure of seeing my wife each lap. With three kids we typically take races in turns and seldom share the course so having her hot on my heals was definitely motivational. I was so stoked to see her in full stride each time. On lap two and three I was a bit worried that she might not be able to hang on to the end but my worries for her were quickly wiped out by concern for my own wellbeing on lap 4 as I started to wonder if I was going to faint and collapse. I managed to keep my legs turning over as I passed through this ‘low’ point even managing to keep to pace. Once I got to settlement point I took advantage of the red bull on offer (a rarity in racing) which gave me the ‘wings’ I needed to get me to the end. I also got my final chance to see that my wife was only a couple minutes back and closing in. Her run is amassing and she executed her raced plan perfectly.
I got to the finish shute knowing that my wife was not far behind. Finishing an Ironman is pretty special and I figured that this was likely my only opportunity to cross with her so I turned to wait. Those 30 seconds felt like an eternity as people wondered what the hell I was doing but soon enough she came around the corner and we got our finisher picture crossing arm in arm in 10:19 total time and a 3:27marathon
For me a PB and for her an age group win and trip to Kona! A perfect end to a perfect day.
Jared Medhurst is fairly new to the sport of triathlon but his achievements to date are proof that setting goals, sticking to a plan and training consistently will pay off in the end. Below our Q&A is his Ironman Port Mac race report which was his first Ironman distance race and cracker at that! Now it's back to training for a string of races all in preparation for his first Kona experience:
Name: Jared Medhurst
Lives: Just moved to North Narrabeen
Your supporters:I have to say my Mum is my biggest supporter. She flew over from NZ to watch me race my first Ironman at Port and she has already booked to come watch me race in Hawaii later in the year.
How long WTC member: Since 2012
Why triathlon? I had played soccer since I was 6 years old and had to stop due to a back injury so all I could do was swim to stay fit. I managed to get my back fixed, was back running and I was talking to Sarah Fletcher at the Manly Sea Eagles pool. Sarah mention she did triathlons and this must have planted a seed because not long after that conversation I had decided I wanted to do an Ironman.
Goals for the rest of this season and into 2014/2015: To really improve my swim, get stronger, faster and try to stay injury free.
How do you juggle training & work/life? I am single with no kids so there is not much to juggle, it is just work and training at the moment. I am up and training by 4 most mornings and start training around 5-6 in the evenings. Getting enough recovery sleep is the biggest issue, if I have time I try to get a lunchtime power nap in at work. I take my hat off to all those people that do triathlon who have wives and kids, I don’t know how you do it!
Most memorable tri experience to date: Has to be my first Ironman at Port Macquarie this year. The atmosphere of the whole event was incredible from the race briefing to crossing the finish line it was just an amazing feeling and experience.
Long term tri ambitions: To do as many Ironman as Geoff Thorsen!
Other hobbies outside of triathlon: Surfing when I have the time.
Favourite triathlon race course/location: Port Macquarie, Both Husky Olympic and Long Course and Auckland 70.3 my home town race.
Hero/oes (sport or otherwise) My Parents, they passed on their athletic genes and strong work ethic to me which I am very grateful for. Also my coach Mitch Dean, everything he gets me to do seems to work.
Favourite motto: “I always felt that my greatest asset was not my physical ability, it was my mental ability.”
Tips/Inspiring comments for other triathletes: Consistency is the key to getting the results you want and not having any limitations on what you can achieve, hard work pays off in the end no matter what level you are at.
Jared's Ironman Oz Race Report - off to Kona!
18 months ago I made a decision to do an ironman. I decided that if I was to do an ironman I would need to do some Olympic distance races and some half ironman races before I would be ready.
Fast forward to race week and I had completed 8 short course triathlons, 2 half ironman races, husky long course and countless hours of training. I felt ready to tackle the beast!
I arrived in port on the Tuesday before the race with plenty of time to ride the notoriously bumpy bike course, inspect the weir crossing location in the swim and to jog and drive the run course. Doing all of this helped me put together my race plan for the day.
My coach Mitch Dean arrived on Saturday and we spoke about the plan for the day. The swim was to be solid and controlled but to pushed when needed to stay in the pack. I decided that 5hrs on the bike was very achievable if conditions were ok, so I would head out and complete the first lap in 2.5hrs and reassess it after that. For the run we spoke about trying to aim for a 3.15 marathon which seem achievable by heading out around the 4.15 pace and taking it from there. My power meter had been playing up so I decided to race to my heart rate as well and try not to let it get above 160bpm as much as I could especially through the hills on the bike leg.
This was all just a plan and I questioned it over and over in my head many times. I was diving into unknown territory of distance and pacing and had no idea how my body would hold up to the challenge! I would find out soon enough though.
Swim - this was a new swim start for ironman australia and for me. They had introduced the rolling start which is where you self seed based on your estimated swim time for the 3.8k. You then start with a few people at a time and your time doesn't start until you cross the timing mat.
I really felt this would help my swim time as there would be plenty of fast swimmers around so finding some feet to draft of would be much easier and plenty of energy would be saved!
I seeded myself in the sub 60mins hoping for swim somewhere around the 52min mark.
The start was a lot slower than any other race I had been in and I soon found myself in the wash of a large group moving a good pace. I was going to check my watch at the first weir crossing but completely forgot to do this. At the second weir crossing I was happy to come out behind Ben Bell who I knew would post a good swim time so I decided to stay with him to the finish.
I exited the water with a time of 51.39min just under the target of 52min great start!
Bike - heading out on the first lap conditions were reasonable and the winds hadn't picked up yet. I had decided to use a disc for the first time so I was happy it wasn't blowing too hard yet. At the first turnaround at Camden Head I was well ahead of schedule averaging over 37kph. Heading back into town winds were even more favourable and I managed to maintain this speed with the legs still feeling ok! I hit the infamous Matthew Flinders hill for the first time, I got into the small chainring early and made my way over the hill. It was lined with spectators which seemed to take the sting out of it and as I hit the top I saw JARED ROCKS in yellow chalk on the road which took away more of the pain and put a big smile on my face!!
Heading through town to head out for the second lap and I heard plenty of support in few spots which really lifted my spirits.
The second lap out and the angry port winds had come out in force! I had started to pass a few people and decided to put in some effort into the head wind knowing my legs would get a reprieve on the way back into town. This decision really paid off as I pick up a few more people at the turnaround and on the way back into town!
My second trip up Matthew Flinders was epic my family (mum and my two brothers) had made their way to the hill and had joined my mate Greg, Mitch and his girlfriend Sandi. Everyone of them ran beside me up the hill shouting encouragement as I passed Jason Shortis at the top, I had goose bumps all the way up!! What a feeling!
The wind took a bit out of my average speed but not enough to derail my target time. I took my last trip through town hearing the cheers again knowing I just had to hold it together on my run.
I came in a bike split of 4.55.56, I had hoped for 5hrs but expected it to be more so I was really happy with that.
Run - I hit the run knowing this is where things can go horribly wrong! I checked my watch and was running at 4min k's and knew I needed to slow down I got it down to 4.12 and felt good so decided to hold this and I would see how I felt after the first lap.
I tried to work out where I was in my age group at the turnaround but still wasn't sure, no sign of my support crew either? Plenty of other support on the course though from the warringah club!
I was still feeling really comfortable on the second lap and had maintained my average pace of 4.12 so I decided to carry on with it. My support crew showed up half way through the second lap and gave me the news that I was sitting in 4th place in my age but Scotty Hobson was losing time fast. I was still feeling ok and Mitch instructed me to just keep it steady and not to get excited!
The hill on crescent st was really taking it out of everyone and I was lucky enough to have some great support here from the Warringah club which really helped me keep pushing over it!
I am not sure what happen on my third lap but by the time I got to me support crew I was told I was in 2nd place now! I didn't even see Scotty Hobson or Luke Martin when I passed them!! I thought they were kidding me at first!! So many thoughts came flooding into my head but I had to push them aside and concentrate on maintaining my pace for another lap and a half.
My legs really started to fatigue on the last lap and I started to lose time, I was hoping I had put enough into the guys behind me so I could hold my position. My average pace dropped slowly as I realised there was a possibility of a sub 9hr time!! I tried to keep it as steady as I could as I ran with Trent Chapman for the rest of the race.
Grabbing my last wrist band I headed for the finish line. I had nothing really left to give as I made my way into the finish shute. I looked around and soaked up the feeling - I have just finished my first ironman - crossed the line and stopped the clock. 8.55.01 with a 3.02.49 marathon.
I couldn't not believe it, what a day! Everything had gone to plan my nutrition, no mechanical issues and had run over 10mins quicker than I had planned.
All the hard work had paid off, Mitch had really prepared me for this race and it showed throughout the day. To have him there and my family made it even more special a day I will never forget!
I have heard negative things about this race from the rough and tough bike course to the bad swim and the boring run. I have to disagree with all of this and I maybe bias and have nothing to compare it to but Ironman Australia will hold a special place with me forever, and I will be back to race it again.
"It was not my usual happy go lucky day but I finished, collected my plaque as a legend and can now feel satisfied that the job is done"
BY JEFF MCNAUGHTON
My 10th Australia Ironman
This race was for me all about finishing to get my 10th Australian Ironman under my belt and that Legend status. This was my 11th start so had 1 DNF under my belt through mechanical failure in 2009.
The day started out great with an easy start to the swim and a PB thrown in at 58 min 30 sec. Big smiles coming out of the water. This rolling swim start is a winner as far as I am concerned being able to swim in your own space and not be fighting other numnuts (trying to be polite here) was fantastic.
Onto the bike and the wind started but the first lap completed in 2 hr 55 on target still, all going great. Lap 2 and the wind is getting bigger and down Flynn’s beach hill got hit by a side wind going at about 60kph and shifted the bike 3 ft sideways. That is a very moving experience. Once I sorted out the mess I made in my pants I continued on and it was a lap of concentration. Must thank my supports here for some of their posters of encouragement as ; “May the Course be With You”; “It is not so __effing hard really”; You make a great Ironingman with a picture of an ironing board”. The wind was certainly blowing us about and there was no relaxing on this lap. Got to about the 155 km mark and the puncture god hit so I had to do a quick change and back on the bike in 5 mins front wheel all good. 10 kms later the back wheel punctured and now out of spares so needed to wait for the backup guys. About 20 mins later all fixed and back on the bike for a 6 hr 30min finish. A lot slower than I hoped so the PB for the day was out the window and it was all about finishing but this is what Ironman is all about, recovering from problems as they will always happen.
So now it was a process of Left foot, Right foot and repeat some 15000 time and it would be all done. The good news here was that this process was a success no Left foot, Left foot efforts so all good on my feet. Outside of being quiet cold the run was really just a process of keeping going. The amazing thing all around me was the number of people walking. I had not noticed this in previous races so it must have been a tough day out there.
For me this was probably the hardest Ironman I have done but I think that was because I put extra pressure on myself to finish. It was not my usual happy go lucky day but I finished, collected my plaque as a legend and can now feel satisfied that the job is done.
Onto 2015 and running with my own number.
"It is was without doubt the greatest day of my life!"
BY PHIL WHITEHEAD
Competing In Ironman Port Macquarie was Amazing. From a individual view point it is was without doubt the greatest day of my life.
Being relatively new to triathlon being convinced to have a go at a sprint event in Husky about 18mths ago. I instantly loved the sport and the adrenaline of crossing the finishing line. Looking for a bigger buzz ,my logic was the longer the race the bigger the buzz. I wasn't disappointed.
Having never completed a event of this size ever before the trepidation and excitement were like nothing previously experienced. The swim format was less hectic as other ironman starts that I've seen from YouTube being a self regulated start. I found the process suited my nerves and certainly created less anxiety with fewer bumps with less competitors in the water at once. Getting out of the water at the weir allowed to empty my googles. From the swim and onto the bike I was stoked to have one leg down. Amazingly I felt strong all day on the bike and albeit with a nasty bit of wind was loving it. After many lonesome hours doing laps of west head I think it was the first time I truly enjoyed having a tri bike over a roadie. I tried to eat and drink as much as possible and held a little in reserve knowing I was entering uncharted water running a long way after riding a bike 180km for only the third time and never had to run.
The run was the real highlight of the whole day each lap being ticked off was a sign I was getting that little bit closer to the finish. It is amazing jut how quick the sun can go down during the event. Was really satisfied to run the whole way, only slowed to grab a water or Gatorade.
The high of competing in port was amplified by having my wife and children plus extend family and friends there to watch. Great the the run course was a 4 lap course allowing to have plenty of high fives and yahoos from all. Wearing a warringah tri singlet on the run (and warringah cycle top) gave a massive boost from the cheers from spectators and other team members alike with shouts of "come on Warringah" being only new to the club all the support makes you feel bullet proof.
The sense of pride and achievement hit at several times throughout the day, yet culminated in the finishers shoot where seeing my 7 year old son, very very supportive wife and 63 year old father all crying with pride and hearing for the first time
"Phil whitehead you are a Ironman"
A small bonus was beating my expected time by 1hr30min.(Actual time was 12hr 32min)But a week later in still on a massive high and only now have the issue of figuring out where will my second ironman be.
Being a newish member to both Warringah and triathlon's in general as president of the club you and all members should be congratulated on such a professional and welcoming club it is, something not easy with such a large membership. After having a little break for the next week or two I hopefully will continue to meet more of the club on rides etc over the next few months
"All smiles and positive words that are so important when your body starts to ache and your legs stiffens made my day."
BY DANIEL NILSSON
I was fortunate enough to be able to sleep in the day of the race because I was staying in the hotel just opposite the start – at least that was what I was trying to tell myself when the clock went off at 0450. Half an hour later with oatmeal breakfast in the belly I did the final check of the bike to make sure that it hadn’t lost any pressure in the tires overnight. It all looked fine and I went back to the hotel for another 20 minutes sleep.
All of a sudden I found myself walking under the arch and the race was on. I knew this was going to be a fun day but also a tough day. I felt good during the swim and I think the rolling start made the start bearable, I didn’t even get kicked once – maybe I was swimming to slow - well the mind starts to think as soon as there is an opportunity.
Picking bag number 141 from the bike bag wall felt good, swimming done – now let’s go biking! Prior the race Sofia and I had worked out how I should eat and in what order. I tried to eat one Breaker every 45-60 minutes and also had half a banana at every aid station. I refilled my Gatorade every other station and filled the water on every station. I felt good coming to the famous hill where I dropped to the small chain ring and climbed it as fast as my body could. I also noticed that I overtook quite a few riders during the hills which also gave me a bit of extra energy. Going out on lap two was harder than the first (of course) but mentally I still felt ok. I forgot my salt pills in my bike gear bag but luckily I had salted peanuts in my food bag so I was snacking along as much as my stomach could bear it. The rest of the ride was uneventful and coming back into the village felt good. I had tried to eat and refuel as much as possible in order to have a good start on the run.
Run gear bag number 141 found but tangled with another bag – annoying – note to self – make sure this does not happen next time and always check the gear bags on the morning! Legs felt good and my body was literally flying – maybe not very fast but still flying! Again I had decided to leave my watch at the transition since I wanted to be able to enjoy the atmosphere instead of always looking on my Garmin. I never looked at any clock during the race and for me that felt good! Receiving the black band (first out of four bands) felt good but still mentally challenging since that meant I would have to do that hill another 3 times. Luckily I saw Sofia and a lot of Warringah fans along the way and you all kept me going. On lap number two I was thinking of all volunteers helping out and making sure as many as possible would become Ironmen that day. For some reason I always get sentimental when I get tired but without all volunteers I would not have been able to make it. All smiles and all positive words that are so important when your body starts to ache and your legs stiffens made my day.
After eating the most amount of Vegemite in my entire life (I normally hate Vegemite) I proudly finished on 10.53.33. Thank you all for a fantastic day and for all the joy!
"Certainly not my fastest Ironman but by the same token not my slowest."
BY GRAHAM LATTA
I will start by saying that Port Ironman 2014 was a long day. The days before were clear and relatively warm. However, while race day was clear the wind had picked up which made the cycle leg quite tough.
The day started off with the new one lap swim course. At about the 1.5km mark in the swim you had to climb about 10 steps up and over a weir to get you into the top canal, which you repeated on the return leg. The swim also had on trial a rolling start where by you were sent down a shute and straight into the swim. Athletes spread their start over a 15 minute period. I liked the new swim design as it was a lot less congested, which has been an issue over the past years.
My T1 was slow. I take ages to get my wetsuit off over my calfs. Had two guys trying to yank it off me.
Got going on the bike leg and tried to take in a fair few calories. I can’t recall the roads being that rough in past years. It was a bumpy old 180km. While the wind was up on the first lap it got increasingly stronger by lap two. It was a strong cross-wind blowing from the west. As you went past side streets it blew you sideways. I was climbing the hills around Bonnie Hills when a guy 50 metres ahead gone blown straight off his bike.
I am not the most efficient and fastest cyclist, this coupled with the wind and road surface added probably about 20 – 30 minutes to my cycle time.
My T2 time was no faster than my T1.
I usually can tell after about 300 metres as to how my legs feel for the run. They did not feel good. Hoping I would feel better I plodded on. However, by about the 4km mark I knew it was going to be tough. Only 38km to go. Did have a glimmer of hope on lap 2 of the 4 lap run where I started to get a bit more rhythm but this was short lived. Pushed on into the night and kept trying to take in food and drink but after a while nothing seems appetising.
Saw Smithy and Thorso hanging over the rail of an outside bar. They offered me a beer. I simply snarled and swore at them. Kept the Cliff Young shuffle going and eventually made it home. It was would have been even harder without the support of people along the course.
After crossing the line I just wanted to go home, I had had it. Went to medical, got a quick check over, picked up my street gear and went home. Had a shower, laid on the lounge and shoved a pie down my throat. Felt better.
Surprisingly, felt o.k. the next day. Certainly not my fastest Ironman but by the same token not my slowest. Four minutes inside my slowest Ironman. Even my Kona finish last year was faster than this year’s Port.
Saying all that, bring on Port 2015.
"It is an amazing experience and one that is 100x better when you experience it yourself."
BY DAN HOWITT
A Day of Redemption at Port Macq.
Ironman, a race where half the battle is making the start line fit and uninjured. Goal 1 achieved.
Seven years since my previous attempt at this race and how times had changed for me. Having a 4 week old daughter had mad the last month of training challenging, but nonetheless I was fit and healthy and had trained consistently for my 10 week prep. With a time of 14h 39 in 2007 after walking the marathon, 2014 would be a different outcome, hopefully.
We woke at 4:30 on Race morning with clear skies but a solid breeze. Transition is surreal world at Ironman, it is quiet and calm as everyone does last minute checks and prepares for the day ahead. Walking to the swim start it seemed to get colder and I got very emotional. This would be a long day without my two girls.
Not attending briefing had left me confused as to how the swim would work with a rolling start. At 6:30, the Pros were off and it was a short 5 minutes before the age groupers started. Going off in small groups, it was three minutes before I hit the water. This system rewards mid pack swimmers, it prevents fast swimmers getting in packs, so finding feet in the swim was near impossible. The novelty of climbing out over a weir was lost quickly as athletes bunched up. It was like a swim start halfway through the swim.
Leg one done 49:11, Swim was short (not the first time). Into transition and it was cold and wind was gaining strength. I felt great heading out on the bike as we had a cross tail wind heading out of town. Roads weren’t as bad as had been talked about out the back, but still not fantastic. At the far end of the bike, the wind was all over the place as we changed directions numerous times, making it hard to keep my HR consistent.
Heading back into town it was time to take on more fluids. Grabbing a drink bottle in a cross/head wind is not easy, but I was successful 3rd time lucky. First landmark of the bike is when I hit 100k to go. I got there in 2h 20 at 90km it was 2hr42. Heading back out and our tailwind was now a cross headwind and speed was 5km/h lower than previous outward leg. It was time to be patient and keep up the nutrition, it would be a tailwind home. 90-135km seemed to take forever but once on the homeward journey I kept myself entertained by working out my likely bike split.
As seems to be tradition a huge pack always catches me at 160-170k and I was thinking, “Where the ---- has this pack been for the last 5 hrs?” Back through the hills and the pack broke up with most of them going backwards. Feeling strong, I stretched and increased cadence preparing for the run. Bike- 5:47.
No injuries to slow me down and no wife to chase me down, how was I to approach this? Km 1- 4:12, 2- 4:22, 3- 4:18, 4, 4:16…… HR 150-155- Fantastic! Lap 1 43mins and feeling great. All of a sudden I’m looking at 3:15-3:20 run split. In the excitement I was 20 minutes late for a gel and with 17km to go it started to bite. 5:30, 5:40, 6:05 pace is now appearing. Using Dad and Sarah’s tactic of walking only aid stations was what experience told me to do. It was bloody hard. Running from the last table was the last thing I wanted. Then I thought of my daughter and wife. I had been there for the birth. On that day I was telling Sarah it was healthy pain and so was this. 5:35, 5:18, 4:58, pace was heading the right way and with 8km to go, it was time to stop walking. Seeing Dad with 3km to go, we high fived and he told me to “Run home to your girls.” Emotions came from nowhere, this race, this performance was for them. The sacrifices they’d made to get me there were incredible.
The last km was painless, I remember none of it, it is a feeling of ecstasy running down the finish chute. The sense of relief, joy and fatigue hit you hard as you cross the line. Run – 3:29, Finish 10:14:30.
It is an amazing experience and one that is 100x better when you experience it yourself.