Competing in the world’s biggest triathlon is exactly what you’d expect it to be like EXPENSIVE bikes, shaved legs, and loud hubs. I was racing on the Sunday morning, however Noosa Triathlon festival had 13 different events starting from the Wednesday with a run, swim, run (1.5km, 750m, 1.5km).
Somehow someone managed to convince me to sign up to this race as well the night before, I was expecting a calm ocean swim at 5am and a flat road run. As I arrived down at the beach in the morning I there was a strong northly wind which for Noosa brings in the swell. As I got my runners out the my bag I asked where transition was to be told it was a beach run on soft sand. Back in the bag they went!!
As I warmed up in the water, a mild 22 degrees, I was already exhausted from the current. After a quick warm up and light jog, I lined up on the start line hat already on and goggles in my hand with the sun high. I felt very under prepared for this.
As the gun went off we sprint along the sand to the turn point 750m down the beach. As we reach the turnaround cone everyone ran away for the shortest line, for me only to realise they were running to the hard sand along the shore. Finishing the run around 10th I was feeling pretty comfortable. I put my goggles on and ran into the ocean, dived straight in and swallowed a full mouth full of salty water to then be hit by another wave. I finally got up and start my dolphin dives though the brake. I started swimming and instantly got onto the back of someone’s feet. Being kicked around and hit with arms was nothing new to me due to training with the twins and Andrew R. Making it to the first boy wasn’t bad with the current pulling me along however, turning around and swimming into the current felt like I was back at Bradburn on a Sunday night. Swimming into the beach I managed to catch a wave and body surf into the beach which gave me a few seconds to rest, by this point I really needed it.
Coming out the water it was back onto the soft sand for the 1.5km run. Running on soft sand really works the calf and gives you a strange running style. My right calf was starting to tighten as I got the turn point however knowing I had the students chasing me down kept me going and I wouldn’t let them beat me. I finally finished the race somewhere near top ten.
I was hobbling around on a calf about to tear, however that didn’t stop me from jumping into the water to cool down and have a splash around in the surf before it was back to school.
On the Saturday (2.11.19) Noosa turned into triathlon heaven. I had already registered on Friday night and got my race pack, goodie bag (by far the best goodie bags from any triathlon yet!) and the famous Noosa tri towel. My Saturday consisted of dropping my bike in transition, watching the elite athletes 5km road race along the high street and in the evening watching the elite Criterium races though the town all while my flat mates got ready to go out. It really set in how big Noosa triathlon was seeing professional cycling teams and triathletes such as Henry Schuman walking around the town. That night I tried to have an early night but was kept up by the cheering of beer pong going on in the kitchen.
Sunday was race day, waking up at 4:30 with my two weeks training under my belt I felt more than under prepared. I left the house at 5 and walked down to set up transition, not realizing there was a 45min que to get in. As I arrived to my bike, smack bang in the middle of transition I hear over the commentary a 10min warning before transition was due to close. Following that the commentator give me a shout out as I had met her a couple times over the last few days and she managed to get me into the race. That gave me a boost in motivation as I knew I had one supporter there, since Mum and Dad were asleep on the other side of the world. A few teachers from work had given me small tips, the best one by far was to have a spare bottle of water beside my bike to throw on my self after the swim to get the salt off my face… this definately came in handy! After leaving transition I walked down to the beach praying for flat calm water, however instead I saw people out surfing along on the point. The current was so strong the race organizers had decided to cut the swim short by 500m. This meant instead of turning around at the boy and swimming back into the current we would get out at the boy and run 500m along the beach. However I was more nervous about my calf being so tight from the run swim run that the beach run would bring my race to an end. I managed to find some of the students to warm up with and pretend I have some friends here. They had all raced it before and were trying to scare me about the heat and the winds on the bike, but I was more trying to stay away since we didn’t start till 8:13 to be exact. I went and did my usual warm up and pit stop.
I watched a few races before mine and realized where the start tent was. Instead of running straight into the water and straight lining the swim to the first boy, the races before would run round as far around the beach as possible then run into the water after a 700m run. This meant they would catch the current that helped pull them along to the first buoy. We saw the occasional arrogant person try straight lining out to the first buoy to be pulled by the safety boats as the current had pushed them so far off course they had to start again.
8:00 my wave was called, all I could see was a sea of around 200 people in black caps. This was the 16-29 age heat. They slowly funnelled us out in waves of ten. As I crossed the start line I followed the other participants along the 700m run along the beach to first point where we all ran into the water and dolphin dived thought the swell. After getting out past the break I quickly got onto someone’s feet, only realising it was a student from school who I knew was a better swimmer. Getting to the first boy I felt pretty good, I had a steady breathing rhythm but to Coach Kev it defiantly looked like a mess. As we came closer to the final boy we started to bunch up more, I was hit on the head a few times however stood my ground with a few sharp hard kicks 😉 thank you to the twins for teaching me that. We turned at the final boy and I planned to try to surf a wave in only to be flipped upside down and tumbled around and I was washed up on the beach a bit dizzy.
I ran out the water and I started my run along the beach to transition. Running along the beach I heard a few shouts of “Come on Scotland” “Go Gappy” “is he the gappy from school?”. I finished the swim in 00:15:45. Running into transition it was nice to see my hungover friends had made it out to support me, this gave me a new wave of energy running into the gigantic mess of transition. I thankfully found my bike pretty easy and instantly poured the cold water on my face to get rid of the salt. My transition was pretty seamless I must say, running out of transition though not so much. People in front of me had dropped their bikes so I decided to just run with my bike on my shoulder and go past the mount line. I did my first flying mount in about 7 months and felt like riding a bike again. Around 10km into the bike there is the infamous Garmin hill, this is a 3km climb with no spectators, no drink stations, its just you and the views of endless bush. Reaching the top of the climb there was a few shouts of “go Neil” from students this really helped to motivated me as by now it was around 28 degrees and no cover from the sun. The middle 20km of the bike course is a flat out and back along a straight road, a there was a cyclist that passed me on a bike possibly double if not tripple the price of mine. I made it my mission to stick on his wheel as much as I could. The only time I would drop back was when the sound of a race officials motor bike was coming close.
Coming to the end of the bike course we cycled along the river with spectators ringing bells and cheering everyone making it feel like such a special event. Coming to the dismount line I did a flying mount and had forgotten about that feeling of running on “jelly legs”. I had finished the bike in 1:03:22.
Coming out of transition I did the first km in 4:20 this got me to the first water station where I emptied two cups over my head, drank another two and got a cup of electrolytes. I started to settle into a good pace and for those of you who don’t know I hated running as I’m sure Kev will tell you. As your running locals turned their garden sprinklers on for people to run thought and cool down, or they would stand outside with their hose and drown you with water. This was a life saver until the final km where my feet were squelching along in my shoes. Throughout the run there were several Djs playing all sort of questionable music however it made the run feel much quicker. As I was coming to the final Km the fence with spectators grew bigger the grand stand started and the music got louder all as the pace of other runners started to speed up. At this point another competitor said to me “let’s go Scotland” and we pushed each other all the way to the finish line. As we crossed the finish line be both looked at each other with the smile of why did we race that and both started laughing as we shook hands.
I finished the run in 00:44:15 this gave me a total time of 02:10:13. I had go out planning to go 02:30 so I didn’t quite believe the time I went. After the race I was walking around cramping up everywhere and had the best day out. The rest of the day consisted of cheering on others and sleeping on the beach with the biggest ice cream I could afford.
As a whole Noosa triathlon was more than just a race, with so many events happening all week it had to be one the best weeks since I’ve been out here. I would 100% recommend anyone who has a chance to come race Noosa triathlon to do it and experience madness that goes down here.