Ironman Cairns is done and dusted for another year, and conditions were as expected – tropical! There was heat, there was rain, there was sun and the inevitable wind and humidity. But we would expect nothing less. This is one hell-uv-a race and it sorts the athletes out – that’s the point. Ironman is hard. It’s meant to be hard. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it!
Tri-Alliance had 7 Ironman athletes racing, with 2 repeat offenders and 5 taking to the distance for the first time. We’ve loved hearing their battle stories (race recaps) from the day and know the best way is to hear it straight from them:
Simon – Well ticked the IM box. 226km is a long way in the course of one day, also didn’t help when my calf played up at the start of the run. Back in 2013 Ollie and I had a chat which I said never will do an Ironman. Ollie said one day which I said no to. Ollie your a judge of good character one day has happened….Were there roadblocks yes; the weather was one we swapped our Saturday Sundays programs a few times. Finding time is another basically giving up your weekend for months. We lost a friend Michelle in a tragic accident which was hard on those knew her well. These tests make you mentally strong. Ironman is not easy it’s meant to be hard.
Mario – Cairns Ironman 2019 done. What a great day with special people. Choppy swim, strong headwind on bike and raining on run. Perfect. Managed to take 10 minutes off last year coming at 11:32. Daniel completing his second half distance in just over 6 hours. Big thanks to all the crew cheering us on all day, my training buddies that have made the last 6 months less painful, our coaches, the Wood- Rich family for again coming up to support us and to my Darling Karen who spent the day running from vantage point to vantage point in the rain to watch her boys race. Ashley Purcell training and racing without you would not be same, so thank you. Another one? Not sure but a father and son finishers photo would be priceless. Let’s see.
And let’s not forget about our 70.3 athletes or think that ‘half’ the distance equals half the suffering…ah no! It doesn’t work that way. They are out there at the same time, in the same conditions, on the same course and it’s just as hard for them, in different ways.
We had a dynamic dozen taking to the start line of the 70.3 race (and shout out to Janine who was the swimmer for a team), with half of them stepping up to long-course racing for the first time. Now, we’ve seen the smiles and heard the stories (you have to hear the struggle Eddie had to endure!) and are thrilled for them in so many ways, so again – straight from the horses mouth:
Fik – Wow Cairns what a race. Absolutely loved it 1.9k swim, 90K bike and 21K run. Such a beautiful place to have completed my second 70.3. Couldn’t have done without my TA buddies especially Pam Tunas, Simon Gronow, Jo Wood-rich and Andy Wood-Rich. To Ollie Allan and Michelle Bond thank you. To my number 1 supporter who is always watching.
Paul – I survived my first IM 70.3 in what can only be described as a rollercoaster of emotions. After a good swim and start to the bike leg, I was in good spirits and already thinking about my finishing time when Cairns decided to teach me a lesson. Between losing the chain on a hill, getting a flat from broken glass, 60km of strong head winds, overheating and dehydration, I was broken physically and mentally. Struggling to take fluids and nutrition during the run continued to crush my mental state. Despite finishing, I was disappointed in myself not only about my time but my perceived failure in mental strength when things got tough. After a few days of letting this sink in and encouragement from friends and family, I am now able to appreciate what I accomplished. 6 months ago I was overweight and unfit. I struggled with 400m of continuous swimming, a 10km ride seemed like a major task and I could not run 2km without a break. I set a goal to swim 1.2km which I achieved. I decided to try my first sprint distance triathlon in January and first Olympic distance triathlon in March. 10 weeks ago I decided to sign up to Cairn with only 3 short course triathlons under my belt. I dedicated a lot of time, energy and discipline to training and lifestyle choices to get myself to the start line, which was an achievement in itself to be proud of. I would like to thank my family for all their love and support over the past few months and friends who provided encouragement along the way. And a big shout out to all the coaches and teammates at #trialliance . Without them, none of this would have been possible. @ Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Naomi – I got over that finish line! Cairns IM70.3 has been the best, made even more better by an awesome crew from Tri-Alliance, thank you! @ Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Cressida – Such a fun weekend away with these fantastic legends. Thanks to all the amazing TA cairns crew for making it so memorable ( including those missing from this photo)
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RACE RECAP – Andy Wood-Rich:
The dust had settled on my 2018/19 triathlon season and a couple of week’s solid recovery were in the bank, so it was time to drag myself back off the couch and get moving again – that was about the same time that a notification dropped into my Facebook social feed. Rapid Ascent were seeking “Gold Runners” to join the 2019 Trail Running Series. With a quick scan of the race dates and venues I realised I could get to four of the five events on offer and when I mentioned it to The Wife she didn’t immediately say “No”… so I was in!
Truth be told, I had run the first event of this series a few years ago and remember it being challenging, picturesque and fun – we spend so much time pounding the pavement or Tan track it’s good to change it up occasionally. The guys that went on the Lorne camp recently would have gotten a taste of running trails and could probably attest to this.
Race one of the series was hosted in the bush land of the Plenty Gorge (Fun Fact – I used to catch the bus to high school through the Gorge every day for several years) On offer were three distances, a 5km short loop, an 11km middle distance, and a 17km run that completed the middle distance course then tacked on an additional loop route; I was fronting up for the long course run.
You know your no longer in the city when you spot kangaroos in a suburban playground! And I was still several km from the event village at this point. Upon arrival your greeted with a small reserve surrounded by small marques housing partner sponsors, registration and kit collection, a bag drop zone, photo ops and a coffee van (OMG, a coffee van! By the time I arrived I’d been up for over four, non caffeinated hours!)
Coffee onboard, warm clothes stripped and stowed, bag dropped and warm-up session witnessed it was time to proceed to the start line where I self-seeded myself towards the back of the group, this was going to be my first run since straining my glute a couple of weeks earlier during the Albert Park time trial and my first long run since Ironman Port Macquarie in early May – It was going to hurt and I wanted to ensure I didn’t push it too hard.
The race begins with a little downhill section on a dirt road then rises across some open paddock areas to give the group a chance to sort themselves out before the course narrows to single track sections where passing becomes difficult. Running trails requires constant concentration, you’re having to be mindful of the terrain and where you’re placing your footfalls, whilst also checking ahead for opportunities to pass slower runners (and, if you’re just doing it for fun, aware of who’s behind you and provide opportunities for them to pass you), the other unique part is, this run incorporates four river crossings and only half of them have bridges. Be prepared to get your feet wet!
There is also plenty of up and down covered,this area has been carved out by the Plenty River and smaller water ways so it’s a constant and repeated cycle of descend into a valley then climb back out of it. Sometimes this is achieved with a set of single track switch back, other times the route hits the gradient in a brutal straight line, where the descent to ascent is bisected with a river crossing the water shed from previous runners made for a slippery track. At one point I actually grabbed a competitor’s arm as she fought for stable purchase and helped her over to the grassed trail edge.
When was the last time you were out for a run and needed your hands on the ground to help reach the top of a hill – there were and least two occasions during Sunday’s funrun! A few more where I resorted to using them to push my legs to keep moving. According to Strava, there was one point the gradient is recorded at over 45%!
After covering 16km of technical trails, “rock gardens”, fast, gravelly or rutted descents and heart bursting climbs you near the finish, hear the announcer and music playing and then hit the final kicker hill which is also a timed “race within the race” for the last 300m. If there’s anything left in the tank, now’s the time to drain it.
I’m usually a sub-two hour half marathon runner, this 17km pushed me just a touch over that mark – with over 700m of elevation gain and 17km behind me, legs screaming and heart rate over 170bpm I crossed the finish line smiling, then quickly had a second (well-earned coffee!)
Race 2 of the series will be held in Smiths Gully on the 14th of July and begins with a classic hill climb used for many years by motorsports, jump outside your comfort zone and grab a dose of vitamin G and I’ll see you there!