Completed my 4th Half Ironman yesterday being the Challenge Melbourne 70.3.
I completed the course in 4:44.33. (17th/91) 25-29 Males.
Definitely a tough race for several reasons;
1. The temperature was in the mid 30’s (95 for my American readers)
2. Had no/minimal taper pre race
3. Some hiccups during the race (Time Penalty – Drafting) will get to that!!!!!
Will go through race with a fine tooth comb and talk about different parts of the race and my opinion of them.
Race morning was warm and so was the water temperature. With a 6.15am start time and without too much wind the swim was very flat.
It definitely seemed like the course itself little disjointed, the main buoy’s of the swim seemed to be on different lines to market buoys which meant a lot of participants did a longer swim leg (with some reporting 2.4-2.4km swims according to their GPS). I heard afterwards that the furthermost buoy had lost its anchor and drifted further away as the race went on.
The wetsuit removal struggle!
From a personal perspective. Larger wave starts (350) and warmer temperatures made me less comfortable with zones as well as my exertion. Part of the enjoyable part of the swim being first I don’t typically get too hot. I definitely felt hot and quite spent towards the end of the swim. According to my Garmin my swim leg was 2100m and completed it in 34:40 pre transition. This placed me 30/91 out of the swim. Considering I consider this my weakest leg I’ll take that.
The ride was a 3 lap, undulating course consisting of 15km out and back. Typically this stretch of road can be quite windy, this wasn’t the case on race day. So it was a quite fast ride course, There were some tougher sections where you needed to get out of the saddle but a large proportion you were able to stay seated and aero.
One thing that was very noticeable after my second lap was the formation of larger packs (10-15 people) at some stages it resembled a group ride out there.
It was during this second lap and in the middle of a group of cyclists that I was singled out for a time penalty. Whilst I won’t complain about the time penalty (because I was drafting, heck i’d argue that not a single person out there riding Sunday was able to go through that cycle course riding completely legal!!!) in my opinion it was slightly harsh to single out a particular rider in a group of 10 or more. Considering the group was constantly switching positions and trying to get away from each other. I thought a more reasonable course of action might have been to give a warning to the entire group to separate within a time frame and had we not, enforce a penalty on everyone.
But it was what it was! Mentally it made the race more difficult, slowing down to stop, stopping, then resuming and letting go of the anger of getting penalised. But better to happen now than in IM Melbourne. So total ride time was 2:27.11, placing me 44th in 25 – 29. My estimated time without the time penalty would have placed me in the top 20, happy with this. New bike setup felt mint also.
By the time the run started. It was getting hot I would imagine early 30’s. Hydration and body temperature control was going to be key in getting it done and not imploding. Talking to my coach during the week he advised to try and maintain a consistent pace throughout the run, so I attempted to do that throughout.
I will say that the aid stations for the most part were exceptionally run, regular intervals, stocked with ice, water and gels. The one thing that disappointed me was once I started using cola they only had 1 station on course with it, otherwise couldn’t say a bad word about the course. It is hilly 3 x 7km lap course, with several steep inclines and 1 in particular leg testing decline.
My total run time was 1:35.22, with my lap splits being: 30:58, 32:11, 31.10. Had a little lull there in the middle!
That time placed me 16th/91 in 25-29yr males. While this time is a long way off my best, I was happy considering the temperature and felt strong throughout.
Notes from the day:
1. It was great to sleep in my own bed pre race for the first time.
2. Challenge merchandise is better than Ironman merchandise, towel will actually wrap around a normal sized adult and the beer mug is a nice touch also.
3. The recovery tent was pretty sweet also, ice baths, ice cream, lollies, fruits and icy poles. They also offered a free beer. Although it wasn’t accepted!
4. My only negatives for Challenge was – don’t run of coke on the run course, and get the swim distances correct!
5. I used a clif gel/ honey sandwich nutrition strategy which worked well. I also dropped the Hammer Perpeteum for the Hammer Endurolytes Fizz which I found great also, no cramps/GI upset.
6. Considering my swim and cycle times I was enthused that I ended up coming through the field on the run. Felt strong finishing (Last km was 4:10 per/km pace)
Any questions about the race, let me know in the comment section below!