"There is something unique about our sport and a willingness to generously sponsor our athletes who give Triathlon a go."
BY Elliott Cunnew
So Challenge Forster is my fourth Long course event, having previously done the Ultimate at Forster in 2012, I knew what the course had in store for me. The big differentiator this time around was the ATSS Heroes factor as a major motivator.
My daughter Amelia suffers with a genetic condition called Tuberous Sclerosis. 1 in 6000 children are born with it. Amelia has epilepsy, developmental delay and TS sufferers have growths which can appear in their brains, kidneys and lungs. Amelia is now 18 and is a very happy young lady. She also has kidney complications from the TS.
ATSS heroes is a group of friends of Jeff Place who also has a child with TS. The goal was to raise $50,000 via sponsorship. I thought that was setting his sights a tad high with only 6 months to do it in. Jeff rallied 25 new recruits to do Foster. Many hadn't done a Triathlon before but they got behind the fundraiser in a big way.
6 am morning, perfect conditions, on the shores of Forster Quays knowing we had collectively raised $45, 000 towards our 50k goal. Wow go Jeff and team. An amazing result, certainly started our day in high spirits.
I got into my wave start @ 6.19 just as the pros started to finish their swim leg. Clayton Fettel was out first and for the girls Liz Blatchford in smoking times.
Pop Quiz: at the briefing (pretty ordinary briefing Challenge sorry, and we were made to travel to an RSL to listen to it) Only negative for me!!
Question : how many ks does Fettel do in his training week on average on the bike???
Answer : 1000 ks !!! The other pros on the panel were doing 250 ks at best.
Swim: The swim was 2 laps around a rectangular course, and was quite shallow in parts. I was really happy with my swim coming out in 29 mins! I thought the Garmin was playing tricks on me , until I glanced a short swim distance of 1.7 k. I'll still take it. I expected a 35 min swim so I'll take that all day long.
T 1 went smoothly , aside from Numpty move number 1, no sunscreen application. I still have the Tri top sun burn marks to prove 90 ks on a bike without screen ain't smart. Im sure that didn't help my run performance, more about that later.
I headed out down King Georges Rd, and set off , trying my absolute damnedest not to draft , as I had been busted at my last Long Course in Husky 2014 and that mentally really put me off my game. I succeeded no draft penalties this time around. Phew.
First 50 k loop all was well , keeping to my 31 k p h goal. Numpty move number 2 , Only 3 gels in my bento box for the ride and even though I had a gel in T1. I lost a gel out of the bento box so was severely depleted of fuel on the bike only being able to put down 2 gels on the bike.
Also not good, waving to family at Blueys turnaround and knocking straw from Profile hydration system, meant only half my drink was drunk so had to rely on second bottle of high 5. Mental note tape straw in next time. I felt ok though as I knew I could stock up at the aid station drinks wise which I did. So I was still happy with how I felt, especially on the second 40 k leg of the ride, as there was less congestion and on the last part of the ride, and I was able to open up. I pulled past my buddy John Kearney and sent the big love out as I went past him.
T2 and Run Leg:
2 hr 53 on the bike had me well on track to get my goal of sub 5 hr 40.
Run started ok, all was tracking fine pace wise until 7k when those 5.20/5.30s shot up to 6.20s. What happened? A piano magically appeared on my shoulders for one !
My form started to suffer from back pain, and although we had great support from the TSC hero supporters with their yellow t-shirts and plenty of high 5s from other supporters I started to suffer. The second 10 k of the run was looming large.
This is a game of the mind. No walking is my rule,
It was one foot in front of the other, in the second part of the run. Running along scenic parts of bush track and then on the headland. The wind was blowing quite hard by then so that did not help my fatigued and depleted state but I dug in and started to suck it up.
The last 1 k over Foster Tuncurry Bridge.
A lady sitting on a bench asks me as I ran past" where youse run from then" I couldn't even speak.
She goes "geez that one can't even open his mouth" she was 100% correct!!
The TSC supporters got me home, the last 5k was a sloth like 40 minutes, the wheels had well and truly come off, with a total time of 5 hour 43 minutes.
Not a train wreck overall time wise, and at least I finished as did all of the TSC heroes, some with great times considering it was their first Triathlon for many of them. One posted a 5.15, go Chris !
I eagerly went to collect my Challenge beer tankard after Sally and the kids had seen me over the line only to be told they had run out of beer!!!
Plenty of learnings from this race and a total rework of my hydration and nutrition strategy for my next 2 long courses in 2015, Thanks Shorty and Pete McLean for the post race nutrition advice.
Whats next ?
Challenge Husky and Busso 70.3 already locked in, it took me 3 days to sign up for 2 more 70.3 s …Its about improving for me and the camaraderie and loving the feeling of keeping fit, and meeting new people. One day a sub 5.30 70.3? Who know's maybe Busso???
So in summary, I would definItely do Challenge Foster again. I trained for the event with multiple different people made some solid new friends as well during that training process and had a really good time with the family over the race weekend .
My tip is to stay outside of Foster as you get nicer accommodation and access to better beaches and restaurants at Blueys.
My other tip is when setting targets for fundraising and combining with Triathlon events, set your sights high. Its a very powerful combo that one !
Jeff amazed us all with the final $$$ raised which we presented to the ATSS president after the race. ATSS can now fund a full time person to man the phones for offering advice to people who get the diagnosis of TS and don't know where to turn. My wife Sally gets a well earn't break from doing it
Well done ATSS heroes and well done Jeff and all the heroes for a sterling effort . Find out more about ATSS HERE