Monday, December 17, 2018

The Grand Finale

The Grand Finale

2018 has been a McMassive year for me in the sport of triathlon. With all being said and done I've competed in and completed 10 events in total, 8 Ironman Distance and 2 half distance. It's safe to say that I absolutely love racing and when the opportunity came up to race at the Home of Motor Sport, The Daytona International Speedway, I couldn't resist in finishing off my awesome year in Daytona beach. What exited me most was dealing with the logistics of racing and Ironman on the West Coast of Australia and travelling literally halfway around the world to the East Coast of America to race again in a 6 day period. Busselton and Daytona literally couldn't be further away from each other, both ways around the world are the exact same travel time!! Through into that the fact i had to make a very important Pit stop to collect a Diamond ring on the way and the week was absolutely full gas from the moment the gun went off in Busselton to moment i crossed the finish line 6 days later in Daytona. Was the absolutely perfect way to finally burn the last bit of runner left on my continental tires and empty the physical and mental tank for 2018.

There are no secrets that i love America, and i love Motorsport. Despite the circumnavigation of half the globe and everything we crammed in between i was bright eyed and bushy tailed when we touched down in Daytona in the early hours of Friday morning. I snagged a few hours sleep but as soon as the sun was up i was off to the race track, I couldn't wait to get behind the walls of a Motorsport venue I've been glued to the TV watching over the past 3 decades! Pinarello decided to sponsor the event to celebrate the mantle we've earned over the past 2 years of the fastest bike in the sport being able to cut some laps on the fastest race track in the world. On top of that the Guys from Epic Cycles in Claremont Florida had a massive expo setup to give the Bolide some VIP treatment and display for everyone to came take a look at it. Fallon and i often joke now that people ask first where is Olive and secondly where is the bike,Then they ask how we are!! It's actually become rather comical how much attention that particular bike gets, and the dog of course, it's really cool.

Friday rolled on with the usual briefings and intros for the weekend with it being clearly evident the influence NASCAR had had on the organising of this challenge family event. Everything was so organised and as a pro athlete they really made sure we knew how important it was for us to interact and be as accessible as possible with the fans, just like there drivers are on a entirely different level of popularity obviously but you get the drill. They wanted this to be very American, a big show!! To ensure this they had invited a great group of pros to ensure that's exactly what they would get. The womens field was stacked with champions across all disciplines from ITU to Ironman Distance making it impossible to pick a clear favourite. The men's field was set be equally as exciting with Andrew Starkyowiz gunning to exact some revenge on me for what transpired in Kona and Dylan McNiece & Peter Heemeryck both sat tied one place behind me in the Challenge Family World Bonus rankings which basically meant whoever finished ahead of each other would be 4th instead of 5th and take home $12000 instead of $5000. Basically put i had a big target on my back. Through in local Ironman legends Andy Potts and Matt Russel and a whole rath of ITU guys and the men was set to be an epic battle from start to finish, exactly what you want the seasons Grand Finale.

Saturday morning i was up again ready to rumble, it was race day 1! I'd suggested to the organisers that us pros spread out in teams for the sprint relay to add a bit more of that interaction the NASCAR guys had spoken off. I was paired with Lesa France who's grandfather built the track and family now are not only the owners of multiple venues around the country but the driving force behind the sport. It was amazing to meet Lesa under such circumstances as I always say as i always say sport is the greatest leveller and to see her passion we consider very small on the grand scheme of global sports was really exciting. Along with her assistant Wendy we had an absolutely fantastic morning and the 850m swim head to head with Dylan where i finally learnt how to swim on someone's hip!! It's like your surfing, amazing revelation for me, was a great way to blow out the cobwebs for Sunday's main event, I actually felt fantastic.

Sunday morning finally rolled around. I was up and feeling great, excited to leave whatever energy i had left on the race track, literally. When we arrived at the track there was an announcement about bad weather on its way. The organisers decided to have all the age groupers go off as planned at 7am to complete a modified course and the Pro's would race once the storm had passed later in the day to ensure we could do the planned half Ironman distance. We were called into the "Green Room" for a meeting which was a special room setup for the Pro's complete with treadmills, exercise bikes, food, drinks ect to basically ensure we where comfortable all weekend. This room alone was something I'd never experienced at a previous race and yet another indicator of how serious NASCAR where to help innovate our sport.

During the meeting they outlined the details of the storm due to hit in a few hours and when it would pass to allow us to race safely. The speedway has a direct line to the national weather centre and it was remarkable how to the minute they where of predicting the weather to hit and pass. After a lengthy discussion of the different race and route possibilities we all agreed on a modified distance to take place entirely inside the stadium based of a 1600m swim. In other words that worked out to be a 60km ride (15 laps of the speedway, how AWESOME!!!) and a 14km run zigging and zagging around the infield of the track. The start time was set for 1pm so we all ad 5hrs to kill. Some went back to the hotel, some just hung out, while passed out on the floor in between a couple of treadmills, the jet lag had finally caught up with me! Finally 12:30 rolled around and just as predicted the rain stopped dead and the sunshine appeared, it was go time!!! All the athletes like one big happy family now after spending all morning together happily headed to transition to set up bikes and make the final preparations. Then bang on 1pm the gun finally went off for the final race of the season!

When it came to swimming I definitely saved the best till last and blasted off the line. Ive never felt better at the start of a swim and soon it was only the two super swimmers in Andy Potts and Dylan McNeice ahead of me. As we exited the water after 800m to then jump back in for a 2nd lap i was only 15seconds behind those guys, I couldn't believe it. The second lap Peter passed me but i clung to his feet and exited the water only 45 seconds down on Andy and Dylan, this was a massive improvement for me and i was absolutely wrapped. Now for the really fun part!

Going along to watch Jimmie Johnson at so many races I've always dreamed of riding on the speedway and i was finally getting my chance. I launched myself onto the bolide and set off in pursuit of Andy and Dylan and the lead of the race! About halfway through the first lap i knew i was in trouble as I just didn't have the punch I've enjoyed all year which left me with a simple decision, go hell for leather with what you've got and see if your remarkably hang on. Through the start finish straight people where giving me splits to Andy, was so cool having so many people so close to you so often, just and incredible experience. 3 laps in and i was in the lead and while it knew my pace was dropping every lap i just kept hammering away with every bit of horsepower i could muster.

Around 7 laps in i really started to struggle to compound my issues could also feel the looming Starky baring down on me like a ton of bricks. He was moving like a freight train and sure enough a few laps later he passed high up on the wall which was pretty cool to see actually and try as i might to stay in touch he kept riding away from me. I simply didn't have the goods to stick with him and was absolutely powerless to do anything about it. I'd experienced this 12 months before in Ironman Western Australia where that was the one race too far and i blew up halfway through the bike and latterly climbed off and sat on the road side. That was a horrible experience where i felt very foolish infront of my family and the fans so in this case i had the chance to wittier those wrongs and hang tuff as best I could and try to give the spectators the show they couldn't wait to see. Somehow i kept Starky insight until a few laps to go but then he just disappeared for good and pumped 2minutes into me in the last 2 laps, he was flying and on a mission! When i finally reached transition still in 2nd, I hadn't given up hope of one last blistering run for the title for 2018, I'm certainly ever the optimist.

Once my feet hit the ground it was very apparent there would be no fairytale ending to my 2018 season. My running legs picked up where my cycling legs had left off, flat out running out of sight on a dark night. 1 by 1 they ripped passed me until when I finally waddled over the final finish line for the year in 10th place. When it came to the exciting pre race hype between Starky and I battling the bike leg and could I hold Peter off to hold onto 4th in the world bonus I was well and truly the days biggest loser on all fronts. Peter not only finished ahead of me but he did it emphatically winning the race and obviously in the process ensuring himself a bigger Christmas bonus than I would receive, he was far and away the better athlete than not only me but everyone on this historic day for NASCAR and Triathlon and great inaugural champion of this great race.

With the curtains finally down on what was far and away the most fulfilling year I've ever had in all my years of sport I was looking forward to holiday. The race couldn't off been in a better location to get stuck right into the festive season with Fallon and I heading straight for Disney world and the first line at Magic Mountain and my favourite the Magic Teacups that I spun so hard in a bid to knock Fallon off her feet. While I didn't quit succeed at Disney World in doing so, later that evening once reunited with olive in her home town of Deep Creek Lake Maryland, I delivered her that Diamond ring I mentioned earlier. It fitted, she seems to really like it and I can't wait for whatever adventures lie ahead for us. It's been on amazing few years together where year on year has just kept getting better and better and naturally simply cannot wait to see what 2019 brings.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays everyone and I look forward to hopefully seeing some of you if not all of you somewhere on some continent sometime soon.


P.s. As always my race data is all on strava, one victory I did have was the fastest lap recorded on a bicycle around the famous speedway!!

Sent from my iPad

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Hi Ho Hi Ho, Back to Busso I Go

Hi Ho Hi Ho, Back to Busso I Go

12 Months ago I Travelled to Busselton for Ironman Western Australia full of confidence and a lack of respect for the sport of Ironman. Fortunately i got exactly what i deserved, a big dose of reality and severe embarrassment in front of my home crowd and most significantly my family. That day i not only DNF'd but I didn't even finish the bike leg, i was so out of shape and thought i could still blow everyone away that i literally blew myself up after 100km and could even complete the bike course. It was a long long flight home to Tasmania with my tail well and truly between my legs but what i vowed to myself was no matter what happens in 2018 ill be back to Busselton to redeem myself. 12 Months on and i can proudly say i feel I've done just that this past weekend.

The Build Up in Tassie

I thought long and hard how to do Ironman WA right for the past 12 months and the 1st priority was if your going to do it do it properly. Last year i tried to keep things ticking over post kona and what that basically amounted to was i slowly but surely de trained post kona and became less and less fit to the point that it was out of shape come race day which subsequently led to me blowing up on the bike for the first time in my IM career. This year i took a completely different approach and took my off season immediately after Kona to refresh my body and mind and didn't do any exercise for 3 weeks. The result was when i returned to Tasmania in early November i was chomping at the bit to get going again, perfect. This basically left me 1 week to get moving again and 2 weeks of solid training to get myself back into some sort of condition knock out one last IM for 2018.

That first week was a real battle which it should be if you've had a proper rest. In fact on the Wednesday my very famous Running Edge Training gang dropped me during our track session. We do 30min + 3 laps and after 20minutes i could not only no longer do my turn on the front but I couldn't even hold the wheel of the boys. Anyways i expected this as the local lads are tuff as nails and there is no room for passengers in our group, was exactly where i wanted my condition to be and exactly the kick starter i needed. Things got better as the week went on and by the Sunday i was able to survive the whole Professional Criterium at the Launceston cycle classic without being dropped which was 55 minutes plus 3 laps, an hour of power basically and this told me the body was now ready for 2 weeks of solid training for Busselton. The next 2 weeks went perfectly to plan, the boys hammered my most mornings on the bike and i even survived the track session both weeks! I added in my intensive and long runs and the key swim sets we used building up to kona. If you want to know more about what i did in those sessions its all on my Strava as usual.

The middle weekend was another awesome Tasmanian event, the Point to Pinnacle touted as the Toughest Half Marathon in the entire world!! I'd done it twice as a rower in 1hr 52minutes both times. I vowed if it couldn't beat that time then I'd quit triathlon immediately and go back to rowing as that would've just been embarrassing. Fortunately for me and the work I've done on my run i had a 17 minute PB stopping the clock in 1hr 35min which i was absolutely wrapped about and gave me huge confidence ahead of Busselton which was a whole 2 weeks away. The final days went to plan and that gave me a week to freshen up a little for the big day. We decided to make the feared track session the final test on the Wednesday morning before the IM and I passed with flying colours. Fallon and i loaded up the Ute for the 15 minute drive down to the airport, life is so simple in Tassie!! And off to Western Australia we flew with my Mum in tow. I couldn't wait for race day.

Special mention to the Running Edge Training Tribe:
Kimbo Gillard (2:15 marathoner)
Mickey "The Fox' Dalton (2:16 marathoner) Team Captain
Hayden Armstrong (Strongest cyclist I've ever ridden with)
Matt "Cat' Geappen (if you think your suffering look in his direction)
Wellsy (similar to cat)
Lewy (Super Fish swim prep finisherrrr)
Al Mearns (never missing a training session and never doing a turn!!)
Drew Ginn (google him)
Rhys "Shlonga" Long (has a lot under the hood in every respect)
Aaron Dunn (Pro cyclist who gets paid to be an electrician)
Brad Stevens (Crowd control, opens and closes the gate for us at track sessions)
Pete Barrett (similar to Al)
Justin "Mad Dog" Morris (he's actually very tame)
Gilly (once a week wonder at the track)
Matty Rundle (the only one who actually takes sport seriously in this group)
Andrew "smarty smart" (because every team needs a JP) Leigh "Waxy" Walker (team marriage & relationship therapist)

The Race

Despite the 3am wake up on race morning i was bright eye'd and bushy tailed. The favourable time change from Tasmania being 3hrs in front of Western Australia meant I'd basically be getting up at 2:30 am Busselton time for the past 3 weeks. I chomped down my 2 crumpets with butter, peanut butter and honey, a cup of coffee and off the start we went. Got my bike all prepared in transition and as you'd expect for my 8th Ironman of the year I've got that routine pretty dialed and had plenty of time to relax with fallon and Mum and Dad before the start. The new qualifying system for Kona meant that I'd need to finish in the top 2 to get that finalised in Busselton and consequently insuring i finished no lower than 2nd was my entire focus for the race. I was confident that a solid race would gain me that position but always felt if i had a perfect race i could challenge Terenzo Bozzone for the title. I shimmied into my wetsuit and it was finally time to get this party started and get some redemption.

The Swim

I've grown very confident in my swim since my performance in kona and being in a wetsuit i was even more confident i could put myself in a very strong position for the race. I knew Terenzo would be two quick so i simply wanted to ensure i got out of the water to who i saw as my two main threats for that 2nd place i needed, Luke McKenzie and James Cunnama. To do this i ensured i got a fast start and had those two behind me. I got myself between terenzo and the boys to ensure they didn't get away with him and ideally he'd be solo so have to work harder than he would've liked in the swim. It worked out perfectly and once i was confident he had an gap too big to close i let james and Luke pass me and i followed them around the swim course. When we exited the water we where only 50 seconds behind Terenzo and things couldn't have gone more perfectly to plan in what was probably my best swim of the season.

The Bike

I had a great transition and was one my bike before Luke and James, again i had them right where i wanted them and was in control of the race for 2nd. Once I Boarded my fancy new Pinarello Bolide TR+ it was time to go to work on racing for 1st! I quickly shut down the gap to Terenzo and was in the lead solo after 15km, I couldn't believe how perfectly things where panning out as I'd expected a 2-3 minute deficit on T out of the water. Getting in the lead so early meant i had more time to extend that lead and I didn't waste a km of road doing that. I'd been crossing my fingers for a fast bike course but despite the flat profile i knew with the West Australian prevailing winds off the ocean and the very heavy slow roads that wouldn't be the case. Instead the course would be relenting with no free kicks and if you wanted to go fast you had to keep the pressure on the pedals at all times. Obviously this makes the legs much more tired for the run but you'd be rewarded with potentially a race winning lead. I obviously decided on the pressure on the pedals approach and as much of it as i could muster of my 2 week preparation. I had some shakes moments in the last 50km where i had to bring out Mars Bar to get me to T2 in a position to be able to run but once that was on board i was ready for whatever the boys where going to through at me. I got of the bike with a 4 minute lead on Terenzo which i was confident wouldn't be enough given his running pedigree but more importantly Luke and the new threat to my 2nd place Matt Burton, where more than 12 minutes behind which was fantastic news to me!

The Run

As I headed out on the run i very clear heard my Mum say "Go Ribsy" which upon hearing that i instantly forgot about the fatigue and hit the turbo button. Hearing her voice made me decide to throw caution to the wind and just go for it. I sprinted through the first 10km in 37min, my 3rd fastest 10k ever and actually pulled away from terenzo slightly. More importantly this put even more pressure on Luke to chase after me hard as otherwise he and Matt where going to run out of Km's to chase me down. When i saw the situation after 10km i decided to keep my foot on the throttle and run as hard as i could for as long as i could. By the 21km mark nothing had changed and i was still holding Terenzo and starting to edge away from Luke and Matt, I'd finally broken them!! Unfortunately the effort of running my second fastest ever half marathon, 1hr 23min, had also taken its toll on me and during the 3rd lap of the 10.5km run course Terenzo shut down the gap quickly.

By the start of the final lap and into 10km to go he passed me and i felt i didn't have much left in the take to I fight him. At that point however we ran past the start finish area and where all the crowd was which gave me a second wind all be it very brief. I re passed Terenzo for the lead and held it for the next km or so, I'd never been involved in a head to head running battle like this before and although it was brief it did give me another little piece of race experience I didn't have in my bag of tricks. As we turned at the top of the course to head north for the final time with the wind at our backs, terenzo put up his Spinaker and set sail while i dropped anchor and powerlessly watched him run away from me with the title. I mustered all the strength i could to keep him within reach should he faulter or a miracle 3rd wind. Alas neither happened and i arrived in the finish Shute in 2nd place in 7hrs 57min, my fastest ever IM and around 1 minute behind Terenzo. This was by far and away my best executed race and the closest I'd ever come to beating an athlete of Terenzo's caliber. Hats off to T, he's been one of the best in the world for nearly 2 decades and after the horrific injuries he sustained in a hit n run bike accident early in the year its just great to see him back to his blistering best, he certainly hasn't missed a beat.

So that was that, i got everything came for, my 2nd place and 2019 kona qualification and redemption in the eyes of the Aussie fans and my family. Mum seems to hold a bit of a secret key as every race she's attended I've had a breakout performance, last year in Cairns where i ran 3:02, this year in Zurich where i finally broke 3hrs running 2:58, and then this weekend in busselton where i basically had the best race I've ever had in my Ironman career. Maby next year she better come to kona!!

That's a wrap for my IM's for 2018, there isn't actually anymore i could enter this year thank god! I will race for the final time this weekend at Challenge Daytona which is half distance so fingers crossed there is still a little left in the tank for that and to enjoy Disney World on Monday!! Ill take another Mini Break now until Christmas before G and I re convene in LA to start it all over again. We both seemed to have a pretty good year so only thing to do is try and do things even better in 2019.


P.s. As always if your interested on the data from my race or my training you can find all that on my Strava under my name, Cameron Wurf.

Sent from my iPad