Things that make you go…hmmm
The return of the Gold Coast Triathlon, after a short hiatus from COVID and a brief change in location (before returning to it’s original one), was welcomed by many. Particularly the Bennetts! Read on to find out what you missed out on and why you should sign up next season.
How the day played out
On Sunday, the Tarninator and I made a return to one of our favourite events, the Luke Harrop Memorial tri at the Gold Coast. We have both done this race many times before; but not recently – like many events the spicy cough put it on hold for a couple of years and then last year it was held at Robina instead of the traditional Southport location. We don’t much like doing even the Robina QTS tri at Robina, let alone Luke Harrop, so we gave it a miss last year.
Anyway, it was back on last Sunday at Southport and this really is a cracking location to have a race at. If you have done the Gold Coast Marathon you will know the precinct well. The swim is usually pretty calm in the broadwater there and the bike and run are both pretty much flat, and out and back laps. Simples. Fast. Fun.
Despite the maximum distance being ‘only’ a sprint, this event usually attracts big numbers and fierce competition. The last time I did it there were 26 guys in my age category. Other sprint races usually only get around 10-15.
Neither of us were expecting much by way of impressive athletic performances from ourselves. I had been unwell for almost 2 weeks (hence the lacklustre Moo performance) and then I was in Cairns for work the week before, so there wasn’t much training. Tarn didn’t train much either – I assume because she was busy missing me. Naww. We signed up for this race months ago though, so we both thought why not just do it and have a bit of fun.
We arrived and secured a parking spot on the bike course just in the nick of time before they closed the road. Got out of the car and experienced something I haven’t felt for at least 6 months, and definitely not last week in Cairns – cold! It was decidedly chilly. Glad we brought our trusty SBTC hoodies (if you haven’t got one, get one. They are awesome). Registered and racked, all good.
I had done some prior research (stalking) on the start list and was surprised to note that only one of the usual suspects that I had been racing against all season was on it. There were about 17 unfamiliar names – and one very familiar one whom I knew would win. However as I left transition after racking I spotted what Coach Dunc likes to call a “frenemy” – i.e. a nice bloke, but one that I need to pulverise into fine dust particles when we race. So to speak. For reference, I will call him ‘ND’. He must have done a late entry as his name wasn’t on the list before. I was a bit bummed about that because we had been close all year, very close. Sometimes I beat him, mostly he beat me… by a few seconds. I really didn’t want him to be there if I was going to take it easy and have some fun. Time for plan B.
Go time for me was 6:57 am – which I like. The earlier the better. Less waiting around and usually it means the weather conditions are better than later in the day. Tarn started about 25 minutes later – and she had *all* of the usual suspects in her age cat, unfortunately.
The swim was relatively uneventful. The first 20 metres or so we swam directly into the sun which made the first can a little hard to see and there was a bit of a pile up of bodies to turn 90 degrees and head south. The main 500 metres or so of the swim felt “fast” to me. I used the quotes around “fast” because its all relative isn’t it? Fast for me is about 5-10 seconds per 100m quicker than I usually swim (which I am too embarrassed to reveal here) but would still be as slow as a pregnant medicated asthmatic walrus compared to some of the better swimmers in our club (especially my wife). But I digress. The point is, it felt like the current favoured us for most of the swim and it did – according to the times on Strava etc. That was all good and dandy until the last 200 – when we did a u-turn around 2 cans and headed back to the exit, which was of course against the current..
Consequently, I was blowing pretty hard when I finally exited the water. Where was I in terms of position in my age category you ask? No idea. To be honest, I never know what happens in the swim. Once during a race at Kingscliff, Tarn started after me and swam past me. I had no idea. Swimming is stupid. I think of it as just the inconveniently wet and uncomfortable bit before the other two fun bits. I think I was on someone’s toes at some point? I dunno. Plus it was a very big wave start – ages 45-54 and the Clydesdales.
A while back at Raby Bay, I forgot to take my swim skin off after the swim, which made for a very uncomfortable bike leg as it is very tight around the thighs. At Caloundra a few weeks later I went one better and left the swim skin on in the bike AND the run. That was fun. Not wishing to repeat this silliness during an Olympic Distance event, I left an unambiguous note for myself on my bike in transition at Moo and that worked, but I am pleased to say I didn’t need it for this race, I remembered to take the damn thing off! Yay. If nothing else went right with this race, at least I had that. Old man problems.
Transition, Speed and Chasing Rabbits
Into tranny for a relatively quick T1 and out on to the bike course. As mentioned earlier, the bike leg is basically three laps of a flat section of road that is closed for the event and it is pretty fast and furious. The last time we did Luke Harrop (2019 I think) it was changed to a duathlon at the last minute because of “water quality” issues and a rolling start for everyone. This led to a *lot* of traffic being on the bike course at the same time and it was virtually impossible not to draft, so I think the TOs gave us a leave pass that day. Consequently it was probably the fastest 20k Tarn and I have ever done on a bike, albeit involuntary drafting on a TT bike is.. um.. interesting…
Side note and fun fact: The LH duathlon remains Tarn’s fastest ever sprint tri time – just let that sink in – the swimmer – who hates running – did her best time ever in a run-bike-run format… hmm.
I had not seen ND in the swim at all, and I know he is usually a better swimmer than me (heck, isn’t everyone?) so I was looking for his very distinctive bike on course so I could try and catch him. He has a very bright coloured, loud bike. Pfffft… who does that? 😉 But I didn’t see him until I started the second lap, when he came past me and gave me a cheer. This was nice, but I was a bit confused – did I beat him in the swim for once? Hmm… I also noticed that he was wearing cycling shoes with cleats. He normally races with his runners on in the bike leg (presumably to save a bit of time in T2). Hmm.
Regardless, ND gave me a rabbit to chase. Our bike times have been pretty much exactly the same all season so I knew I could stay with him, and I did, and then I passed him at the start of the final lap and didn’t see him again. This gave me some hope because the one leg I know I am slightly faster than him is the run. Happy days.
Fast Fatness, Regrets and Podiums
Into T2 and on with the Nikes. How did I feel in the run? In a word, fat. I ate too much when I was in Cairns and with every step I regretted every bad decision I had made. Overall, I still managed a reasonable time, albeit not a scintillating one. I felt like I had done much better than expected (probably because of the ND factor if I am honest) and maybe, just maybe scraped in a 4th or 5th? Hmm..
At the finish line, I spotted ND. He was out of his tri suit and in ‘normal’ clothes. Surely he hadn’t beaten me by so much that he had time to go and get changed?!? No, we had a chat and he explained that he had competed in the teams event – with his wife doing the run. Phew. And that explains the cleats too.
I checked the results on my phone and imagine my surprise (and delight) when I saw I had come 2nd! Really did not expect that. Okay – most of the fast guys stayed in bed (or did teams) but I don’t care, I’m taking it! Final time was just over 1 hour 13 minutes. Not the best I’ve done, but going in the right direction.
Karl Hayes came first and was nearly two and a half minutes quicker. He has beaten the pants off me by much more than that in the past, so I’m happy with that. Then again, maybe he was just taking it easy, knowing he had it in the bag… hmm..
It was quite exciting waiting for Tarn to finish. For once, the timing wizard’s results were up-to-the-second accurate and I constantly refreshed it as I watched the girls in her age cat finish. Taryn Lester was first by a country mile, no surprise there, she’s a gun. There was daylight between her and second – Sarah Richmond, again no surprise, also a fierce competitor and then a looooong wait to see who would nab third. Could Tarn scrape yet another podium for this year? As it turns out she missed it by a lowly 9 seconds to grab a respectable fourth.
This was, of course, my fault. If I had just positioned myself about 200 metres further up the run course instead of on the finish line, and told her she was in 4th place no doubt she would have prepped Tarn Airways flight 816 for take off and smoked her competition in the last 50 metres like she usually does. Sorry babe!
All in all a fantastic morning. Great to have this event back in its traditional location and we could not have asked for better weather. Slightly cooler and bugger all breeze. Great stuff.
Sadly, we were the only bankers there, though we did catch up with former clubbies Paul Burnham and Jamie Cascajeres, both of whom did very well (the latter got 2nd in his very competitive age cat, with a relatively “slow” [for him] 1 hour 4 minutes!)
Tarn and I highly endorse this race. Put it on your to do list peeps. You won’t regret it.
If Steve’s tantalising account of the race has motivated you to compete in this event, you are in luck!
Tickets for 2024 are already on sale (as of 18th May 2023) and the first 100 entries receive 30% off! What else could you possibly need?
Get your tickets here: https://www.theeventcrew.com.au/event/gold-coast-triathlon
To keep up with the race, you can follow the FB page here: https://www.facebook.com/GoldCoastTriathlon/