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HAMILTON ISLAND RACE REPORT

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I am now back to reality and recalling the amazing long weekend I just experienced in the stunning scenery of Hamilton Island. It is hard to sit down and write after being submerged in a paradise. I packed up my bike and headed off to the airport on Thursday and was staying on the island until Tuesday. I have never been to the island and I was excited about what was ahead. The weekend had 2 events with a sprint distance triathlon over one of the most demanding courses in the world on the Saturday, Sunday followed with an ocean swim on Whitehaven beach. Landing on the island was like walking from reality to a postcard, the view from the runway was amazing.

 

The triathlon is a sprint distance non-drafting race with a 750m ocean swim, a three lap, 20km hilly bike course with a hot lap down the airport runway each lap, finished off with a hard hilly 5km run. It is one of the hardest course's I have ever competed on. It was a stagger start with the females and teams getting a 7-minute head start over the males. The option was open as to weather or not you wanted to wear a wetsuit, either with or without is acceptable. I was lined up next to good mate Josh Amberger and on the other side Hawaii Ironman silver medalist Pete Jacobs. Pete decided to wear a wetsuit so I knew I had to push the swim.

 

I lead the swim around the first turning buoy and from there it is a straight-line swim along the beach. I managed to start catching some of the girls from the first wave and I had to thread my way through them while trying not to scare any of the females. I jumped out of the water with Pete and Josh hot on my heels. I felt good so I ran up and grabbed my Cervelo P4, for its last race of the season, as quickly as possible and ran out. I knew I could open a gap on Pete while he was removing his wetsuit, I jumped on the bike with Josh just behind me. Josh and I have spent many years racing and training side by side and I know how tough he is.

 

I lead up the hills and down the other side onto the runway. It was a strange sensation pulling onto the runways as it was so wide and long it looked like it was curved. It was very exposed and windy and it felt like I was going no where. At each end of the runway to make it easier to see they had helicopters as turning markers. Out of the airport was a mean hill which felt like it was almost as long as the runway. With a slight break halfway up, it then climbs again before descending down a technical hill onto the start of the bike lap. We had 3 laps to complete and I was feeling great. I was pushing myself hard to see what I was capable of with the hard training under my belt. Along the runway into the headwind for the second time I was able to build a gap over Josh. I just kept my head down and pushed as hard as I could. I was able to catch all the girls and teams before jumping off the bike.

 

I racked my bike and wanted to run out hard and try and hold on. It was a slight down hill on the way out so the legs felt strong until I hit the first hill. I then felt like I was in a much longer race with the fatigue in the legs. I pushed up the first hill and then used gravity to help me run fast down the other side. I had a lead bike on the course so I just kept trying to over take him up the hills. It was a stunning backdrop the entire race and the run was great with a mixture of road, dirt and boardwalks. The water stations had a competition going on with each other as to who could create the best atmosphere which made things very exciting. After running out to the yacht club turn-around you have to run back to the finish up a very long steep climb before descending a dirt trail onto the soft sand for the finish. It was one of the hardest hills I have ever run up and I considered walking at times. Once I hit the water station at the top with girls in wedding dresses I knew it was all down hill.

 

I was able to relax knowing I had a good gap and enjoyed the run along the beach. I nearly fell over stepping onto the soft sand but it was nice to see the finish arch. I was very happy to grab the win and to race along side Josh and Pete was also a great honor on a very challenging course. It is a race I would recommend for anyone looking for an iconic race location. It was fantastic to finish off the 2011 season with a couple of good races, with a win in the final race for the season being extra special!

 

The ocean swim race on the Sunday was a 2km race along Whitehaven beach. It was a magical setting for a swim and I managed to grab a 5th place behind some amazing swimmers including Ky Hurst. It was a great experience and I am defiantly putting the race into next years race calendar.

 
 
 
 
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