32nd Alice Springs Sprint Triathlon

winners circle

Triathlon is a young sport. It started in 1974 in San Diego, California. The IRONMAN came only 4 years later in Honolulu, Hawaii. Several years later, the sport emerged on the red soil in the land down under with some events held as early as 1981 and 1982 but only a small handful stood the test of time. In 1985 the YMCA of Alice Springs held a triathlon. It continued on with the formation of the Alice Springs Triathlon Club in the mid 90’s. It’s one of the most significant events for our club especially considering the town; 1,500KM away from the nearest ocean, barely any open water, daily summer highs into the 40’s and a transient town with many coming and going. But triathlon has continued on and grown as has this event. Sunday saw the 32nd edition of the race, unofficially the 6th longest running triathlon in Australia.

In order to understand my result I went back through my log. I arrived in Alice January 21st, 2011. I had 2 Olympics and 2 half ironmans under my belt in the 7 months of being a triathlete. I learned about the club through the likes of Tony Knot, Sean Loader, and Jesse Mortensen and membered up upon arrival. Within 2 weeks I was doing my first ever Sprint Triathlon and on March 6, 2011 participated in the 27th edition of the Alice Springs Sprint Triathlon. By that time I could hardly be considered a swimmer, only training for those 7 months. I had also only been properly cycling since June of the prior year as well when I bought a road bike to do triathlon. The run was my biggest asset having ran 13 marathons in the 2 ½ years of running with a 3:06 PB.

But, in that first race I wouldn’t make the podium or anywhere near it. I came in 6th place in a time of 1:16:23 losing to Ben Streeter who I believe holds the course record from that year of 1:05:27. That was the last year Ben was in Alice. He was a phenomenal athlete and it’s really hard to say how I would have improved with that athlete here. No one was even close to this guy and he didn’t appear to have any weaknesses. Dean Nankivell was in 2nd with a 1:13:08.

2012, I won it with a 1:09:12 having trained for another year and prepared for a full Ironman, New Zealand which was cut to a 70.3 that year. I was also now on a Time Trial bike.

2013: 1st place 1:09:54. Now had another year and 3 Ironmans under my belt but was slower having taken a full month off after Challenge Wanaka and not yet being back in full shape. Fiona Collier, my girlfriend at the time won.

2014: This was a big year. The 30th running of the event. I absolutely wanted to win. But, this year I was up against a strong athlete Tim Bourke. He went 1:09:11, smashing me on the run to my 1:10:56. My swim and bike were stronger than the past but the run, damn. My log shows that 3 days before the event I ran 27KM home from work; I was training for Challenge USA and clearly not recovering very well (I wasn’t eating the SAD Diet)! Fiona Collier, now fiancée won.

2015: I wanted to get back to the 1st place position. Tim was back and Sean was in good form, but now there was a new athlete who had been around for a long time, Ben Bruce. All around very strong, much respect was given. But, I was training for Ironman Australia and was coming off a recovery week. I only had 3 weeks till IMA and was in the best possible shape of my life. A massive PB was inevitable, or I was doing something very wrong. Nearly a minute faster in the swim than any year prior and 41KPH on the bike led me to a 1st place win in 1:06:52. I was told this was a course record but with the course appearing the same, I reckon Ben Streeter still holds the record from 2011. Now as my wife, Fi won breaking the course record using Ben Bruce to really push her on the bike as they constantly where swapping places but not drafting because Fiona does not cheat!

2016: This may be what you were looking for but history always gives context. Since the 31st running of the event, I set PB’s in from Olympic-2:05, Ironman-9:22, and Marathon-3:02, another 2 Ironmans under my belt as well. Both Fi and I had now been mostly vegan for over 18 months but came off a 6 week Transition period after IMWA and a 2 week cruise that had me put on 8KGS. We came back terribly unfit and very unhealthy consuming all we wanted of the SAD Diet (Standard American Diet). After 5 weeks of training and 6KGS of weight loss I went 1:11:23 in a standard ASTC Sprint Triathlon. 5 weeks later would be the 32nd running of the ASTC Sprint Triathlon.

On Sunday I was lighter, leaner, and stronger than I nearly had ever been having lost another 2 KG in the last 5 weeks. But we were coming off Base 2 week 3 with 25.5 hours of training during the week (including the 5hour bike ride after the race). More importantly the day before, we ran 33KM on the treadmill in 2hr30min. Last year I had a full week of recovery, this time I had a massive run the day before. I also didn’t know who would be my competition besides Fiona as I hadn’t seen many of the key faces like Sean, Tim, or Ben all season long.

Night before the race: We went to East side club. We had a cider but didn’t want to eat dinner there. We went to the golf club, no vegetarian food. We went to tempo, no vegetarian food. We went to Tali and had some awesome sizzling tofu and gnocchi, garlic naan, with bruschetta and a glass of pinot noir. We were feeling quite tired from the 3 weeks of training and were sleeping at 8:45PM.

Morning of: 5:30AM wake up to put the wheel cover on the back wheel. Medium Redbull, Banana, Clif Bar. We biked the 4KM to the course. 1 package of Clif Shot Bloks 20min before race time. Tim Bourke was there and although he said he only swam 300meters this year, he is a past winner, and one of those athletes that can do little training and then come to a race and smash it.

750m Swim: Scody sleeved USA Tri Suit, and USA cap. Lane 2 with Fi in the 50m pool. She’s faster without a wetsuit so she went first. GO!!! She takes off and I draft on her feet. We pass one person doing non-free but he moved to another lane. 200m in and my shoulders were feeling a bit tired, probably from swinging them during yesterday’s run. I stayed on Fi’s feet through 600m but then she started to pull away and I finished about 10s back on her. 1-2 out of the water. My shoes were on my bike and I am quicker in transition so out on the bike and into 1st position.

23.1KM Bike: Disk wheel, Speed Suit, Rudy TT Helmet should do the trick. It led to my fastest ever bike split. 33:50 for the bike at 40.9KPH on a course with 24 turns. My plan was to keep the power on 300 just below FTP of 311. I wanted to be even coming out of all turns without any spikes. HR was IM pace of 136 with the cloud cover an “cooler” temperatures. NP was 288, Cadence 86. Interestingly, compared with last year which was nearly the same time, HR was 146 vs now 136, and power was 301 vs this time 288. So my aerobic engine was stronger and producing less power but I was faster on the same course with similar conditions. I’d attribute this to lower % body fat, lower weight, and the aero advantages. I had also done the Get Physical Sprint Bike only 3 weeks prior. HR was 144, power 307 but I was 1/2KM slower! Interesting.

Run 4.8KM: On the 2 loop course I went out and tried to work on technique by learning forward more on not heal planting. I started out ok 4:17/km, then slowed 4:19/km, then finished strongly 4:11/km. The best piece was the last 5 min where it’s clear that I was able to improve the HR from 137/138 to 142/143. Of course, this translated to faster speeds and my mindset was to be thankful for the race, not worry about whatever my time was, but to finish strong through the arch.

Summary: While it would have been nice to break my PB from last year, I didn’t know what to expect. My vegetarian/mostly vegan diet has been key in losing nearly 8.2KG in 12 weeks and the training has been going great considering I am a self coached athlete also training Fi who is going to the Ironman World Championships this year. But the long run was one of my fastest/longest ever with only 3 marathons beating it. So I am happy all considering but unless the date is changed may not be doing this race again since next year we’ll be in Taupo, for Ironman New Zealand.

Thank you: Just a quick thanks to the ASTC for holding the event, all the people before that have continued this race for so long, Greg from Intersport Alice Springs as Race Sponsor, Shane at Smith St Velo for fixing my bike, Fiona for pushing me, and Tim Bourke for coming on out (Best of luck with the baby in 2 weeks!). Congratulations to all the athletes as well.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this detailed report and ask you for your support at Ironman Cairns on June 12th, 2016 by donating to the Wounded Warrior Project. https://fundraise.woundedwarriorproject.org/rtt/Fundraising/individual/30556303

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