Philippines Ironman 70.3 Champion
I defended my title in Camarines Sur on August 14, in pouring rain and cooler conditions than the previous two years. It was still beautifully warm in the morning, and not raining until we neared the half way point in the bike.
Jaimielle, my wife as of December last year, was on her first overseas triathlon trip and got treated to the full incredulous hospitality of the Filipinos. We arrived at the race venue on Monday which is a man made watersports complex with cable wakeboarding, inflatable obstacle courses, and very simple but enjoyable accommodation of huts with athletes as your neighbours. We built our bikes and went for a ride along nicely improved roads and through rice paddy’s, villages, and waving at the many locals who are aware of the upcoming race and who enjoy the spectacle.
Tuesday morning I rode, Jaimie ran, then we got ready for our Helicopter flight! We were flown across amazing landscape, and along the most beautiful coastline I’ve ever seen up to Caramoan Islands were we had 2 nights in a beach front hut looking out to more islands. We saw a few locations for the tv show Survivor, the Caramoan Islands being where several countries have filmed their Survivor. After abseiling (rappelling) down a cliff, stand up paddling around islands, snorkelling, and island hoping, we headed back to race venue on Thursday for a ride, swim, and 15minute jog.
I hadn’t been running well since my foot injury (stress fractured metatarsal) in early May at Ironman Australia. I had several weeks without running and was still struggling to find form leading into this race. I was swimming and riding well, but I’d been feeling a bit flat for 12 days leading into this race so I took it very easy in my taper. I was hoping a week without running would let my legs relaxed and I’d hopefully find form in the race.
My main rivals were Jesse Thomas who had the fastest run splits at nearly every race he’d done since turning pro this year, and Cameron Brown, who needs no introduction. I took the swim out hard and broke away immediately, but then settled down and didn’t feel too flash. I held a lead out of the water of about 30 seconds over Amanda Stevens (the lead female) and was clear of the other pros by about 1 minute. I felt flat on the bike, and was on and off until half way, I wasn’t able to hold a sustained effort. I turned at 45km – an out and back course- and guessed I had about 3:30 on Jesse, and then daylight to the others who weren’t feeling great, had flats, or were even sick coming into the event. But I was worried about Jesse, and either boosted by seeing the gap, or something unknown, I started to feel good and held a solid pace all the way back to T2.
The run is one small loop of 1.5km, then one big loop for the rest, so it is impossible to know the gaps to people in front or behind after that first small loop. I was happy to see I had 6:20 lead over Jesse, but was aware that if I ran poorly, he need only run 20seconds quicker per km to catch me. I went out steady, got scared and ran better 5-10km, then relaxed, then became paranoid, and looking behind often as it started to hurt. With 1.5km left to run, Jaimie was heading out for her run and looking good. We had time for a quick kiss and hug, then I relaxed, and knew I had won for sure.
Jaimie ran well, although not pushing herself as hard as she could have, and not even thinking of where she might be placed in her age group, she ended up winning her age group! The first time Jaimie had ever used aero bars was in the race, and it was just her second 70.3.
A quick clean of our gear, paper in the shoes to help them dry, wash the bikes, then lunch, pack bikes, and some cable WAKEBOARDING! Jaimie had a great go at it, I went around a couple of times, and Jesse won the athlete wakeboarding comp with some massive jumps.
It is such an amazing atmosphere at this race, and I’m so happy I have been here for all three races, and very proud to have won twice. I have more fans in the Philippines (at least more who make themselves known) than anywhere else in the world, and I really appreciate all the support and wishes from everyone there. It is the best organised event for the athletes and supporters. The welcome/carbo and awards nights are amazing, with a local dance group performing, waiter service, and such a great bunch of athletes and organisers is the best.