2016 Alice Springs Masters Games Race Report: Duathlon

Duathlon. A sport consisting of a run/bike/run. Wikipedia doesn’t provide much insight but I suspect that it emerged years after Triathlon was invented in 1974 in San Diego, CA, USA to open a new sport to those terrified of swimming. Regardless, it is a sport and as a triathlete, one would either love it, hate it, or maybe be somewhere in the middle. For me, I’m in the middle.

Duathlon culture doesn’t really exist in Alice Springs. The last duathlon I competed in and that existed was the Hatt Road Duathlon in August 2015. I created this race that was really quite successful with growth of 155% between 2014 and 2015 from 20 to 31 entrants. It was also quite an intense race with the long course being 10k run/40k ride/5k run. (This was in reverse of the old World Cup distance to allow local athletes to prepare for the 2014 Masters Games).

In 2014 I volunteered with Fiona to help out (and because i’m in the middle on liking duathlon). We were both based on course at the turn arounds. While there I saw the Darwin Triathlon Club member Justin Tranter win Gold in M30-34 and take the overall win. Would I have been able to beat him? What would I have done?

Fast forward 2 years and 4 ½ Ironmans later (Port Mac, Busso, Cairns, Kona, Geelong 70.3), I planned early on to compete.

We arrived back in Alice Springs the day before the event, 4 days after the Ironman World Championship. We went to accreditation, hit the food store, made some other errands, and put the bike together. I rode the 30km airport loop in about 50minutes at Zone 2-Zone 4 and 235NP Watts; the legs were certainly feeling fatigued from Kona. I could have run off the bike but opted to take my first running steps since Alii Drive, the next morning at the Desert Park, site of the 2016 ASMG Duathlon.

Race Day

4:45am wake up. 2 pieces of white toast and a zero-calorie Monster Energy Drink and banana. IMWC Tri shorts on and Busso Tri top. IMWC Finisher jacket over that! We drove to the start, 5minutes away and set up transition. It was cold compared to where we were for the last two weeks! I saw lots of my friends who were so excited for Fiona and I, giving each of us major kudos for what we did in Kona. I also met Steve, my fellow Darwin Triathlon Club member, from Darwin. He and Jarrod Cahir would be my main competition; unfortunately, Jarrod was volunteering so it was left to Steve, the unknown. Later I realized he’s only 25 so it would be 6 more years before I could race him!

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Pictures above on the first loop with Mark Russell who will be joining Fiona (wifey) behind me at Ironman New Zealand 2017.

6:05am: Jamie Lines, Mark Russell, and Steve Goat all took off at the start. My plan was to hang on as long as possible. (It’s only 2k/20k/4k so I knew that I’d really need to work hard the entire time to insure the win). I increased cadence to keep it as light as possible and was right there running 6minute mile pace for 800 meters and Steve said to me “Aren’t you coming from Marathon training?” The windy and diversified terrain through the Desert Park was new to me. I hadn’t been there since 2011 and never raced there. HR was through the roof with the pace and lack of warm up but I stayed focused breathing anaerobically. I arrived at my bike in 5th position. With Fiona right on my heels. (I heard the breathing but refused to look around). But Max Yffer was also there and really impressed me on the day with his performance. In fact, Max Yffer coming only 4 minutes behind me was the 3rd fastest overall and the 2nd fastest local triathlete. What’s impressive is that he is in the 50-54 a/g. Great job Max!

Shoes already on the bike, Rudy Aero Helmet on, and go. I quickly passed Mark, then Jamie by Larapinta, and then Steve at the Mt Gillen carpark. But even while putting out 343 watts for the first 5mminutes (FTP was 357 this past season), the legs already in a world of pain I was going to race as hard as I could. Up the rise and then down the backside I knew I’d make serious time with my Argon 18 TT. I was riding around 45kph but lack of any wind didn’t let me push higher than my max speed of 50KPH. At the turn around I had amounted a 70 second lead so expected upwards of a 2minute cushion by the 2nd run. I ended up holding 307NP at 86%IF. Interestingly enough, this power ties the fastest race effort I’ve ever held in any race in Alice Springs for a duathlon or triathlon and ties the Get Physical Triathlon from February 2016 where I was on a team doing a solo TT effort. With the hills today, variability VI was slightly higher and speed lower but still managed 24mph or 39KPH.

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Back into T2, helmet off, and go. I screwed up my Garmin but was just running my ass off. I didn’t really take in much of the scenery except seeing the sun hit the red rocks of the MacDonnell Ranges and seeing 2 Dingoes chillin out and watch me run by during the first lap.

I continued on passing some of the 60+yr olds who were back in from their shorter bike course and their one run lap and used the other athletes in front of me as a string to just pull me forward.

I crossed the line in 51:43 knowing that I had worked hard the entire race. Looking at the results of 2010, 2012, 2014, and now 2016, I put up the fastest time in 8 years recorded since at least 2008 with a time that was 5:40 faster than Justin’s time from 2014. I’m proud of that effort especially considering it was 4 days after the friggen Ironman World Championship!

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Fiona soon followed to also take the overall Female win and we cheered in some of our athletes before leaving early to head to work.

Thanks goes out to Deanne Ward and Jason Dawson who were the Race Directors and would have put in a ton of their time over the last year to make the event successful. So thanks for doing it as I have been interested in what I could do on this course for the last 2 years! There were many other volunteers as well, so thanks for making the event memorable as my last ASMG before we leave next year.

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