The 2017 season has begun and I’ve left Australian to continue chasing the sun. First up I made my way over to Yokohama, destination two (for me) of the 2017 WTS season. During my last few weeks in Australia I had been going solo with training which I always find pretty enjoyable. Over the years I have spent plenty of hours training solo during my time at home in Tassie, and have really grown to like putting in work with just myself as motivation. The reason I was training solo this time though, was because I had made the move to train with Joel Filliol and his squad which has been a great change. I am really enjoying training and excited for the year ahead of racing and training in many new destinations. My new current location is Banyoles, ESP. I was here briefly a few years ago competing but it is a really nice place to settle for a while and begin some solid training.
The race in Yokohama wasn’t what I was hoping for, I think thanks to the weather gods it wasn’t the race a lot of people had hoped for.. I haven’t spent a winter at home in almost 5 years now so apparently my body doesn’t quite handle low temperatures like you would think it would after growing up in Tasmania. The race simply was not a reflection of where I was at physically at the time which is annoying, but it is done now and we are moving forward to what’s next!
Next up was The Dunkirk French GP where I started again with my team Valance. It was a very quick weekend in and out of France, it was also a very quick race. Dunkerque never disappoints to deliver a super fast, action packed race. With almost 100 on the start list, and a couple of hundred meters to the first turn buoy, things get ugly. I finished up 6th after chasing hard all day which I’m reasonably happy with for the day.
Whilst making my way to Dunkerque I had a night spent in Barcelona where I made sure my hotel was located across the street from Foto K, a camera store. With a new purchase and new motivation to create, I just wish there was more hours in the day.. If you want to see my life outside of triathlon, have a look at my other account, @eternal_chase, on Instagram.
Also check out Multisport online magazine for all the info on Super league. Thanks to the team for supporting what was probably my favourite event ever.
Now I am in to a long training block here in Banyoles and onto Les Angles before I’ll be lining up to race again. Time to get back to work!
It was a super busy week, with both plenty of racing and also other commitments working with the staff to make the launch go as well as possible. All of the athletes were happy to give up some time for the media, as with an even playing field it can benefit all parties to increase the reach of this event and it's athletes out to as many viewers as possible and get the public more interested in triathlon again.
For those that aren’t aware information on the event can be found on the Super League website but the event consisted of three days of racing, with three different formats over the same 300m, 6km, 2km course.
Day one was the Triple Mix, three races ten minutes apart totalled together to determine the days winner. Swim-bike-run-10min-run-bike-swim-10min-bike-swim-run. I had a vague idea of how the body would feel switching up the orders like that but Wow! This was the hardest day of racing I think I have ever done. I won the first stage, chased a time bonus in the second (which I got despite commentary) and then hit the wall on the third to finish up the day in a pretty disappointing 9th place. I knew I had the speed to be great over these distances so sitting down the field after day one was tough to swallow, so I was out to prove myself on day two.
A bike TT in the morning followed by a swim-run-swim-bike-run in the arvo giving any time deficit from the morning as a head start. I have read quite often over the years that people assume just because I am a runner, I can’t ride a bike and I’m not willing to push the pace during the bike leg so today seemed like a perfect opportunity to show that I am much more of an all rounder than many people would know. I set myself up perfectly for the day by finishing 2nd in the morning, 2 seconds behind TT winner Cameron Dye to give me a nice head start for the afternoon session. I was able to stay towards the front of the field and even conserve a bit of energy thanks to starting around 10 seconds ahead of the major contenders. I jumped on an opportunistic breakaway with Ryan Bailie with 2 laps to go on the bike which gave us a nice buffer on the last run leg. Just like on day one Richard Murray had the legs to run and he put on a show taking the lead and surging away with no one able to respond in time. He took the stage and I finished the day in second. A much more pleasing result than the day before which moved me up to 5th overall. Making my way right back into the race with one day to go.
With the Eliminator remaining Murray was in the lead with a perfect score of 40, but 2nd-5th was separated by just a few points. Super league was far from over and with a wild rain storm hitting the island things were getting a bit tense. After making it safely through the first and second stages it was down to the final race with just 10 athletes to start. I had another great swim and exited the water 2nd in the wake of Richard Varga, a position I would certainly like to get used to! After making our way around the bike course for the last time somewhat uneventfully it was down to the final run. With plenty on the line including a share of $200000 there was no holding back and watching the footage there was no time to think about a poker face! Murray dropped off the pace just over 500m out to leave Mola and myself. In my head, at no point was I getting beaten today and that’s exactly how it played out.
I loved the short fast racing and from what I have seen it was a crowd pleaser as well. It’s like nothing I’ve ever done and I am looking forward to seeing how Super League takes off and being a part of what’s to come.
2017 is well and truly underway by now and plenty has been happening in my world. I have been back based in Wollongong and into some solid work as the new season is closing in and we prepare for a big year.
My first event of 2017 was once again the Australia Day Aquathon in Wollongong where I battled it out with training partner Ryan Bailie before going on to win for the 4th year in a row. I think the local Newspaper titled it, the battle of the calves or cramps or something similar. It was the first time we had dusted off the race flats and stepped into some speed and the legs weren’t all that thrilled about it to say the least. It was once again a well organized event and once the legs settled down a good day celebrating Australia. My family was in town for a couple of days so it was nice to see them and show off the cool little apartment my girlfriend and I will call home for the next few months.
If you haven’t heard already.. there is something new coming to the world of triathlon this year. Called the Super League, bringing the best athletes from all around the world to compete over race formats we haven’t seen for years. Stage one is held in one of my favourite Australian destinations, Hamilton Island, and I can 100% guarantee that this course will be brutal. To make it worse, we have to race back to back to back over three days with the overall winner taking home plenty of bragging rights and a slice of history as the first ever Super League event winner.
“Super League Triathlon is here to bring mainstream attention to triathlon and usher the sport into the big leagues of sport entertainment,” Super League Triathlon co-founder Chris McCormack said.
Televised live, finally triathlon has the opportunity to really show the world what this sport is all about. I’m looking forward to kicking off my racing season at this event next month.
To find out all you need to know about the super league click here.
Recently in February I found myself in Canberra. As a non-natural swimmer, I am constantly thinking about what I'm doing in the water and after spending some time working with biomechanist Marc Elipot at the AIS we have a bunch of new things to work on. I am Currently back in Canberra at the AIS with the rest of the squad, trialling this environment and most importantly allowing me to reconnect with what I worked on last month with Marc and take yet another step with my swim efficiency.
Jake Birtwhistle Finished Second In The Noosa Triathlon Last Weekend After An Impressive Win At Nepean The Week Before. Trizone Caught Up With Jake To Unpack His Noosa Performance.
“I went into Noosa knowing I could possibly win. I had a similar plan to Nepean, but more of a focus on the swim,” says Jake, sounding tired after a huge year of racing. “I’m never really happy unless I win but after looking at it as a whole, I’m really happy with what I did at Noosa.” And so he should be, coming from the tail-end of the swim pack to take second place at the finish line.
JAKE BIRTWHISTLE’S TRAINING PREPARATION FOR NOOSA
After the huge Nepean triathlon, Jake knew he had to maintain his conditioning in the week separating the two events. With no extreme changes needing to be made, he opted to return home to Tasmania and spend time with his family. “I knew [that] if I headed home it wouldn’t affect my training at all, I just kept it as similar to normal as possible. I just really wanted to go home,” says Jake happily.
“THIS YEAR I KNEW THE DEMANDS OF NOOSA. NOT JUST THE RACE BUT THE MEDIA AND SPONSOR COMMITMENTS TOO. I GOT ALL MY COMMITMENTS DONE, THEN SETTLED IN BEFORE THE EVENT. I DID IT BETTER THIS YEAR.”
For Jake, the week in-between the iconic Aussie events comprised of three and four-minute time trial efforts and short sessions. He then set off for Noosa, with just one day before the race to work on applying some small tweaks. It’s not just the race at Noosa that can tire out the athletes though; for the pros, the commitments are extensive.
RACE DAY PREPARATION
His first alarm went off at 3:30am, followed by five more alerts over the next twenty minutes to ensure he wouldn’t miss the race by mistake. After starting the day with some muesli and yoghurt, he quickly headed to the transition to get organised – taping two gels to his bike, though he guessed he’d only need one. He prepared his one water bottle, filling it with rehydration fuel and then left the transition – confident his gear was ready for the race.
Next, Jake went down to the beach for his warm-up. “The more swimming I can do the better, so I try to get in as much as I can,” he told Trizone.
NOOSA TRIATHLON’S STAGES
“Beach starts work well for me, because I’m a bit taller than the others and get an extra stride in before the water,” explains Jake. “I was lucky I got into a good position from the start, so I was able to get some clear water.”
Jake found himself near the lead before the first buoy. He was conscious of being strong during the swim leg, as he knew how powerful Ryan Fisher would be during the run leg. Despite powering through the water, Jake found himself near the back of the pack by T1.
As the bike leg commenced, Jake had made up plenty of time at the transition and was surging towards the lead pack on the bike. “I wanted to ride hard and even if I couldn’t catch Amberger and Wilson, I just wanted to lessen the space between us,” he remembers.
As Jake flew through T2, he heard people on the course yelling out time gaps. “They said we were about 1:30 coming into T2,” he recalls. “I was pretty confident I’d be able to catch the two leaders but I knew it wouldn’t be easy.”
Starting relatively conservatively, Jake consciously picked up his pace towards the middle of the run as he knew this was the time he needed to add speed. “I was hoping I’d have some left for the end, but I did slow down a bit at the finish,” he says modestly, almost forgetting he placed second on the event podium when the dust had settled.
When asked about the incredible race performance of champion Dan Wilson – who will be leaving the ITU circuit at the end of the year – Jake was full of praise. “I never expected Dan to run like he did, especially after such a strong swim and bike,” he adds. “He was just a better athlete on the day.”
Grateful for a break for the next few weeks, Jake will be basking in the glory of his Nepean win and his second-place finish at Noosa
Originally posted on Trizone - Triathlon News
I had been looking forward to heading back to Hamburg since racing there last year, I remembered the event was amazing, a fantastic course and crowd support unlike any other event on the circuit that I have done. I didn’t have the best race then, so was looking forward to heading back and having another crack now with another year worth of experience under my belt.
Hamburg 2016, will definitely be a race weekend I imagine I will remember for a very long time. I had been working with my Psych leading into the weekend and had the plan of tackling the race differently to what I had ever done in the past. This new approach seemed to work out for the better. I had one of my best swims in a WTS race, exiting the water in the top 20 to slot right into the front group, rode well and ran strong to eventually finish up on the second step of the podium in what was a drama filled finish. I ran most of the 5k on the front of a group of about 5 fighting it out for third place before surging away with 800m to go. I managed to open up a gap and hold off a fast finishing Fernando Alarza, who I certainly did not see coming. I eased up a few strides from the line and Alarza passed me within centimeters of crossing the line which certainly gave me a bit of a scare as you can clearly see by the race footage. There were a few tense moments before getting confirmation that I had crossed the line in third, and then shortly after be promoted to second after the disqualification of Richard Murray to see me on the podium next to Spanish pair, Alarza and Mola. My first ever World Triathlon Series podium, and one I’ll remember for a long time for more than one reason. “run through the finish line next time!”
Day two, was all about the mixed relay world championships. Team Australia was made up of the top two male and female finishers in the individual event; Emma Jackson, Charlotte Mcshane, Ryan Bailie and myself. I have only done a couple of relays of this format before, with each person doing a 300m swim, 6km cycle and a 1.6km run, and this was my first outside of junior events. I watched from the sidelines last year and remembered that even on the rainy day the atmosphere was great so I was excited to be a part of the action this time around. I was off second with some time to make up on the leaders. I finished up with the second fastest time split of the day, one second behind USA’s MVP Ben Kanute. Emma and Ryan brought us home and with an epic sprint finish from Bailie, team Aus became the runner up World Champions in the mixed relay for a second year in a row.
A big weekend, and now with a long time before my next race, it’s time for a little holiday. I’m heading to the Basque Coast in search of some beautiful beaches for a mid season break with current training partner and mate Zac Sue.
For those people out there that aren’t already aware, the Australian triathlon team for the Rio Olympics was announced earlier this week, and sadly, I didn’t make the cut. Firstly I would like to publicly congratulate those who did, Aaron Royle, Ryan Bailie and Ryan Fisher, also Congrats to Emma Moffatt, Ashleigh Gentle and Erin Densham on making the women’s team.
I have to admit I am disappointed to not have capitalised in the automatic selection events in Rio last year and on the Gold Coast last month leaving the third position on the team up to selector’s discretion. I had just one more opportunity to show what I was capable of, at the Yokohama WTS event. In 2015, I placed 9th at Yokohama, it was just my second World Triathlon Series event and still one of the most satisfying races I have had. Ever since I was young, I have wanted to be a successful Olympian, but it wasn’t until this race that I realistically thought I might get that opportunity in just over a years time, sooner than I first thought possible. My Olympic dream has been well and truly alive for a long time, but my chase for the 2016 games was a relatively short one.
I am really happy with my race in Yokohama this year, I finished just off the podium in 4th, my third top ten performance and a career best result. I left Japan believing I had done the best I could, I was happy but also anxious to get the phone call just three days later to hear the verdict.
It was pretty tough hearing the news that I had missed the last spot for Rio. I knew that it was a 50/50 chance and congrats to Ryan Fisher on getting the nod. I’m sure he, alongside my training partners Aaron Royle and Ryan Bailie, will do Australia proud in Rio. I know it won’t be easy watching the boys going off to the Olympics but my day will come, and I’ll be supporting the three of them this time around both as a fan, and a friend.
I could not have done much more under the circumstances. I have worked hard and learnt so much about sport and myself in my short time of racing at this level, and in the 12 months I have got some results that I am really proud of.
It has been a pretty tough week and I would like to thank everyone back home for their support and messages, it’s been fantastic and my coach Jamie Turner and the whole squad, they have all been very supportive.
Although Rio is now off the agenda there is still plenty to look forward to, competing the rest of the 2016 World Series events and my first Elite World Championships final in Cozumel in September. I have finished on the podium as a junior, won the under 23 world title last year and to have a chance of racing as an Elite at 21 is something I would be proud of.
I am in great shape at the moment which I proved by winning race one of the French Grand Prix on the weekend and I plan to continue this for my upcoming events. Next up Leeds WTS.
With Rio selection up for grabs for the Aussies the home WTS race on the Gold Coast was set to be a big one. After spending the month leading into the event in New Zealand for a very solid training block things were starting to come together, in the last two weeks of our training camp and I was finally feeling ready to race and to execute a performance come race day.
I was away to a decent start in the swim, but after not long ‘old mate’ who was sitting on my right hip decided he’d take a slight left turn and swim over the top of me and put me into a spot of bother with a bunch of others swimming over me.. It all happens so fast but all of a sudden I was not in a position that I wanted to be in at all. I made up a bit of ground during the back end of the swim but not enough, and I found myself onto the bike a while back and in a group of unmotivated riders. It’s pretty frustrating to have a large group, but have only 3 people willing to offer some occasional help on the front and then those that are happy to sit on for 7 laps and then attack like there is some reward for being the first from the second group. Frustrating. A couple others and myself made the most of our opportunities on the last 2 laps as the front group began to slow down and reduced the gap from 1:00min+ to around 25 seconds by T2.
25 seconds over 10k isn’t that much to catch on a lot of these athletes and I began lap one catching one by one and was running well. On lap 3 of the 4 lap run, the hard ride began to really take its toll. On the final lap I gave one last push and gave it everything I had left and managed to run my way into a top 10 position, finishing 9th.
My best WTS result was last year in Yokohama where everything went well and I was able to run my way to 9th place. This past weekend on the Gold Coast, not much went my way during the race and I was able to secure the same finishing position as a race where everything went right. I know I have so much better in me right now and I am really looking forward to my next race, Yokohama, to show that.
Since last time I wrote, not all that much has happened, which I’m pretty happy about. I was kept busy, but by doing things that I wanted to do, I almost felt like an average 20 year old for a while there. I was still training as normal but just made the most of my spare time, which meant for some early morning and late night sessions. One day had a 16hour gap from waking up to start my first session and finishing my last, this I wouldn’t recommend doing regularly but for a one off I think it’s not so bad. It was actually quite nice finishing a run at 9.45pm on a warm summer’s night. Launceston is a great place to train with some of my favourite locations in the world to swim ride and run so I always look forward to being there and doing some work. The only bad thing about being at home is that it always goes too quickly.
I had just over two weeks at home between the first Falls camp and the second, which would be the first time the whole squad had been together in a training environment since Leaving Vitoria. Soon enough, it was time to make the trip back up to Falls Creek to join the rest of the Wizards. Unfortunately I had to spend my 21st birthday driving myself up the mountain, so not your typical 21st birthday, although Alexis Lepage did make me a cake – wild.
It is nice to have someone to train with regularly again; sessions always seem easier when you have company, especially when it’s cold and wet outside. The mountainous weather has not been very favourable to us yet so here’s hoping it’ll improve soon!
2016 could potentially be a very big year for me and now it has finally begun, training is starting to feel a bit more serious as the days tick by and I’m looking forward to pushing things and see what I can make of the year ahead.
Arguably my favourite time of year has just rolled over into my least favourite time of year. After competing in some non-drafting races in Australia to finish up racing for the year it was time for a break. I took three weeks off training after the Noosa tri and on day one back training I did a race in Hamilton Island. Not ideal timing for a race but, in Hamilton Island, how could I say no? It’s strange how soon you can lose fitness and the feel of being an athlete. I have now been back training for three weeks and unfortunately it doesn’t come as quick as it goes.
I took some time off after Chicago, a bit more time than I had planned but I was enjoying being home and being able to relax, so a few days soon turned into two weeks and it was time to start preparing for a few more races to see out the year; the Nepean, Noosa and Hamilton Island triathlon. I was taking a pretty “relaxed” approach to training for these races, doing the minimum I could to keep my fitness without blowing up as it was so late in the year. However that plan kind of backfired when I sprained my ankle and wasn’t able to swim or run for a week just before The Nepean Tri. I was given the all clear to race still with some minor ligament damage and surprisingly did alright. I got shown up big time in the swim which was no surprise, being a non-swimmer a week out of the water was going to hurt however I managed to ride myself back into the race and run my way to second place. Noosa was a week later and I had a decent swim here but my legs let me down, I rode and ran my way to third place. I wasn’t overly happy but I was very glad it was time for my break, three weeks of no training spending time at home, and a trip to Hamilton Island.
I'm not sure if the Hamilton Island triathlon was the end of my 2015 season or an early beginning to my 2016 season but I had a blast. It is very tough scenic course in a great location, and happy to come away with the win. From here I was home for about 12hours to pack and head off again.
Like past years I began training in Falls Creek, I have been here for the past few weeks building just keeping everything pretty cruisy for now, but certainly seeing some improvements from where I was week one when I arrived here. I have stepped up from the 15minute daily walk/jogs from week one, I tapped out 35 minutes of walk/jogging this morning so we’re getting there. Clearly still plenty more improvements to be made before I start to feel like my normal self again. Falls Creek is perfect for training early on in the program, a pool up top wouldn’t hurt, but the drive down to Mt Beauty every couple of days isn’t so bad. Especially with some good tunes pumping.
I’m heading back home to Launceston on the 18th for Christmas and to see out 2015. I will be lucky enough to spend my 21st birthday traveling back up to Falls for another three weeks, this time will be joined by the entire squad and about 90% of Australia’s long distance runners so the Mountain won’t be so quiet.
Merry Christmas and I’ll give another update soon in the New Year.
2015 has been a pretty crazy year for me and now that my ITU schedule has ended it gives me a chance to look back at it all and realise how big it was and all that has really happened. Early on this season I was able to get some good results on the board taking out Australian and Oceania championships which had me optimistic of getting to have a crack on the big stage, The World Tri Series. I was pretty nervous heading off to these races early on but with no expectations on me it was perfect opportunity to go and learn and get a feel for racing at the highest level. I learnt a lot from this and each race I went to I changed the plan, both mentally and physically. All along though, I knew the main focus for 2015 was the U23 world championships in Chicago. “Now I just have to go win Chicago” I told coach Jamie Turner after finishing second in the juniors in 2014, and it is something he reminded me of throughout the year. That would be the day when all of the lessons learnt through 2015 will need to be put into practice and executed.
I arrived in Chicago well rested and confident I’d be set to go on race day. Confident because training was going really well over the past month and well rested because I had got a grade one tear in my hamstring seven days out. Not ideal, but it was (almost) time to taper anyway. It just meant I had to swim with a pullbouy, band and touch turn, and ride and run easy and short in the last few days with a few little attempts at 70-80% pace. Thankfully with the help of Triathlon Australia staff we got to race day ready to go.
I was ranked number 1 which was pretty cool, this meant I had prime position on the starting pontoon and was ready for my best swim of the year. A one lap swim was a bit different but I knew if I got through the first 750m out and back loop up towards the front, the 750m straight to finish I would be able to jump on the feet and hold on. It’s not often easy to tell but from what I could see I was in a good position still at half way and knew if I could hold that I would be up amongst the leaders. I comfortably was through transition and onto the bike amongst the front group. I was really happy to be positioned where I was, it is a great feeling to jump on the bike and not have the need to chase, a feeling I don’t have often in races. So far I’d ticked all the right boxes and the race was going well.
I was prepared for the demands of the technical bike course, with six 180 degree turns and eight 90 degree turns per lap (8 laps) it was important to stay up towards the front and I did that with more than my share of work on the front just to avoid dropping to the back. By lap one on the bike I had got three separate cramps, one of which was in my hamstring which had me a little bit worried as we got closer to what would then be a 10km footrace.
From the very early stages of the run there was a group of five, Mcdowell, Benson, Castro, Oliveras and myself that set the pace up the front running ahead of the rest of the field. The main struggle from here was to keep myself relaxed and remember that 10km is still a long way. I tried to let others set the pace and just make sure no one got far enough away to be a concern. A four lap run gave me a chance to take note of where others were struggling and what areas I would be best to make my move. I had no intentions of letting the race go down to a sprint finish after making that mistake at junior worlds last year and finishing of second best. After 2 laps I knew where, if everything remained the same, I would make my move. As we rounded the transition and finish area for the final time there was still five of us but not for much longer. The Spanish pair, Castro and Oliveras attacked together and put space between us and the other two who couldn’t close the gap down. I bridged back up steadily and this was the first time I was really put under pressure and soon after they went again, this time much less aggressive and I was able to hold position. This final attack took us to the base of the out and back (very slight) hill where I had planned on making a move and picked up the pace one gear at a time until I began to string them out. One more gear and I was clear with just under 1km to go before the blue carpet and a world championships gold medal! Something that didn’t really sink in for a couple of days, it’s a pretty awesome feeling executing a race plan, and to do this under the pressure of a world championships feels pretty special.
I have now arrived back home after 4+ months overseas and will be taking a bit of time to relax and enjoy everything that this year has given me before getting back into things before a few non drafting races to end 2015.
To my family, coach, triathlon Australia, my sponsors and of course the Wollongong Wizards, thanks for everything you’ve done for me over the years, I wouldn’t be here doing it alone!