April 21, 2011
Very pleased to report I secured 3rd place at the ITU European Duathlon Championships in Limerick, Ireland last weekend.
My confidence leading into the race built steadily and in the days prior to the race I felt really strong. On the Wednesday after Gernika, my training partner James Attard and I did a 20 minute fartlek session that showed things were on the up and up. I also felt my body was still not 100% over the gastric issues at Gernika and with that in mind, my performance there was very solid.
On arriving in Ireland, Lianne, Seb and I moved to our hotel away from the other athletes and settled into a taper. My last few runs were crisp, which re-inforced I was going to hit the race in fantastic condition. All that was left to do was avoid wasting nervous energy (the best thing I have found is to avoid being around other athletes!) and save emotional and psychological resources for race day.
As soon as the gun sounded, my confidence from the week followed into the contest. Over the first 10km I was relaxed and strong as the lead group whittled down to 10 athletes, covering the course in 30.34. The main casualties were last year’s gold and silver medalists, Sergey Yakovlev (RUS) and Ettiene Dimuneisch (FRA). Onto the bike and a flat and mildly technical course awaited. The group contained three (3) U23 and seven (7) Elite athletes and worked very efficiently to put further time into the chasing groups. With a swift tempo of high 42k/hr no attacks stuck and it was all together into the final transition.
My transition was solid and I accelerated quickly from 4th out of transition onto the back of the leader Victor Del Coral (ESP). At around 1k, Nicolas Benoit (FRA) came through quicker again and while Victor was able to lift to the higher tempo, I was unable to follow the increase. At the 2k mark, two Portugese athletes surged past and with two other competitors right up my backside, the complexion of the race was changing. After 500m of genuinely forced effort, I was able to find some flow and held fifth place between 2.5 and 4km, with the two Portugese at a 20-25m gap. Victor and Nicolas meanwhile had engaged in their own battle and extended the gap to an unattainable distance. At 4k, I saw the finish line on the other side of the river and had a moment of clarity- this race could end in two ways- I could accept 5th place, or I could try for something better. My optimism flowed into action and I surged strongly, managing to pass the 4th placed athlete with around 500m to run and then after a brief moment to gather some reserve, I set my sights on the Lino Barruncho in 3rd, 10-15m up the road. With one last effort, I was able to gather a sprint and surged past him with 100m to go to take 3rd. The feeling of satisfaction and achievement at the finish was the most significant I have experienced in sport.
After the race, Lianne, Sebastian and I headed west to relax for three days in the beautiful western coast and mountains of Ireland. It was a great way to reflect and process the race and more importantly get plenty of time relaxing with Lianne and Sebastian away from training and competing.
We are now back in Gernika for easter and then will have one more race at the Amorebieta Duathlon before heading back to Perth early May for the Busselton Half Ironman.
Thanks very much to my family, training partners, sponsors, patron’s and team for all their support and encouragement. It would not be possible to achieve this result without your assistance.
April 10, 2011
All in all, very happy to report that I got my first podium in the Gernika International Duathlon here yesterday PLUS our Urdaibai team won the Team Classification in the biggest race in the region!
The lead up to this race looked perfect 3 weeks ago and at that point I felt very excited visualising the race. Unfortunately, gastro hit for 10 days and when I finally got some decent training started it was only 1 week till race day. Not having a real guage of my fitness, as both form and health were still progressing daily, made goal setting difficult. In the end, I set myself the task of following the leader’s pace as long as possible and if I was able to follow only attacking on the final run. This plan was, in my opinion, the best chance of optimising the outcome today and also building form and confidence for next week’s European Championships.
After the gun sounded, the tempo was immediately set by Sergey Yakovlev (European Duathlon Champion- 13.48 track 5km last year) and although feeling solid, I started to drift slightly off the back at around 3.5km as 2010 world number 1, Victor del Coral worked around me onto the back of the group. The mind was willing me to stay relaxed and within a few seconds, as in that range a good transition would see me with the lead group on the bike. Despite surging into 3rd place in the final metres of the run, I could not catch Victor and Sergey in the transition, or first km’s of the bike and at 5k I was resigned to waiting for the chase group and hoping they would bring things back together. After being caught, the 24km bike was dramatic but largely unco-operative. In the final transition, our group was 20 seconds down on the two leaders and I exited the transition well and soon was up into third. After 750m though, my house mate James Attard gave it a big crack and surged past with a full head of steam. At that point, all I could think was I had never got on the podium here and this opportunity may not come again. With much effort, I latched onto James’s increased tempo and 500m later launched a decisive counter attack which got me a gap on James and allowed me to close slightly on Victor, as Sergey cruised ahead towards the win. In the finish, Sergey maintained a 19 sec margin and I closed on Victor but did not get close enough to launch an attack on his second place. Result- Third place and the final step on the podium.
I must make special note of the support from the race organisation, the Urdaibai team, friends in Gernika, my sponsors and patrons and of course for me personally, Lianne & Sebastian. This is our third year living in Gernika and 4th time racing at this event, it is amazing how strong our connection is to the people and community here in the Basque country. There have been so many benefits to our time here that are far beyond the scope of competition and sport.
Next week, we fly up to Limerick, Ireland for the European Championships which should be a very stern test. My gut feeling is this season the standard of runner’s has lifted in Duathlon and as the World Championships is on a very similar course to Limerick, the race should give a good guage of what I will need to do in the lead up to the World Championships. I am excited at the challenge and look forward to reporting in next week on the result.
April 8, 2011
Thanks for logging in…..unfortunately got knocked about very hard for 10 days with gastro soon after last race which meant I missed two consecutive weekends of racing here on the Basque circuit.
This week, thankfully, my health and form have been picking up each day and looking forward to a hit out at the Gernika International Duathlon this weekend. My aim is to go as hard as possible and to use it as a build towards next week’s European Championships in Ireland. The high level of competition will make it a great atmosphere as always and the local support means I owe everyone here the best result possible for the support they give my family and I.
This week, we also welcomed James “Jimmy” Attard into town and it is always great to have him around both for his company and training partnership.
Finally, a video which showcases last year’s television coverage of the Basque Championships which featured former Paris Nice runner up and 8th GC at Giro D’Italia, Patxi Villa is linked. It gives a good showcase of the sort of races here in the Basque Country
Thanks for checking in,