So I won a race this past weekend, and it kinda feels like a big deal so I’m going to write about it. I’m
certainly no blogger, and the people that will read this I’m 100% sure already know what happened
and probably even streamed it on triathlonlive.tv. However for the purposes of basking in my glory
one last time before I’m smacked back to reality by the best athletes in the world, AKA my training
partners during our current altitude training camp, I’ll talk about it some more. So here goes..
Leeds World Tri Series is known for being one of the toughest races to do as an ITU racer, a course
that has the perfect mix of hills and technical sections to make sure no matter where you finish, your
body will be screaming for the suffering to end.
The morning of the race I was nice and relaxed spending time in the hotel room and out on the
streets getting the body moving and ready for the afternoon race. There was a grey cloud looming
though, literally. I’m not a fan of racing when it’s cold, the rain doesn’t bother me, unless its
accompanied by cooler temperatures which is exactly what the weather apps were predicting. Skip
forward now to the athletes lounge 30 minutes before the race start and we still had cool and dry
conditions. By this stage I had already committed to racing on 28mm tyres with wet weather
pressure and at the very last minute decided the undershirt under my race suit was a good call.
Once the race got underway everything seemed to click, at this point it didn’t matter how bad I felt
in the warmup, racing instincts took over and pushed through the sensations. I got away to a good
start in the swim, but with 56 athletes all aiming for one turning buoy things can go pear shaped in
an instant. This day it didn’t though. I pushed hard to stay in a good position for as long as I could
knowing if this continued, I would be exiting the water in a great position ready to attack the next
stage; the bike.
Early on groups were established and I was amongst some other strong riders within striking
distance to the front of the race and it wasn’t long until we were amongst the leaders after pushing
hard at the start. This course is designed for a breakaway to stick, once on the city centre circuit as
there are so many turns and flowing corners that you can ride faster in a small group and this was
clearly a race tactic of a lot of guys because there were attacks and moves made on every lap. I did
my best to stay towards the front of the main pack to take the opportunity to get away with a small
group if it arose and to mark any other moves. After many attempts, the front group was all back
together entering T2 to start the run.
By this point I was hurting, I managed to follow the front group of runners for the first 5k passing
athletes one by one as they dropped off the pace. On a couple of occasions I thought I would be one
of the athletes dropping back, until I made the conscious decision to push up and down every hill to
stay in contention for as long as possible. Before I knew it there was just 5 of us left and the attacks
had started, Schoeman was the first to establish a gap. I remember thinking during the 6km mark
that this is usually where I start to really suffer in races, but I was feeling okay still, “so why not have
a go myself? I could win this!” I’d usually back myself to take the win over the last mile with my
finishing speed, but for whatever reason I took the risk of running away with the lead early on and
ran the last lap solo. I guess I had a feeling it would work out alright.
I have run down the finish chute in first place before in a WTS event, in Edmonton. That day it was
clear I wasn’t listening during the race brief though and it turned out I had only done two out of
three run laps... So I would be lying to myself if I said that thought didn’t cross my mind over the last
few hundred meters in Leeds, it definitely did.
Leeds World Tri Series 2019; the day I counted four run laps, and won my first World Series race.
I need to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped me get to this point, coaches, training
partners, sponsors, those who I love and the people who have supported me. Now onto the next
one, the journey continues…