Trek Albany Half
I signed up to Race the TREK Albany Half Race after meeting the race organisers in Mandurah at the 70.3 event last year, and I love supporting new inaugural races and even more love coming over to WA as I have had some success there of late especially after coming close to winning Ironman WA, so the decision was easy to forego my xmas break and head west in early Jan.
After Ironman WA I usually have a break until the new year, but looking at my schedule this year I really did not have much racing on until Ironman Melbourne this which made me push through with my training until Albany and see what happens and more importantly to see if the body had recovered from a hard Ironman. A week before Albany I raced a triple sprint aquathon at Glenelg as part of the Bay sports Festival, I had not raced this event for about 5 years as it really does not suit me with the 1.7km run/2x250m swim/1.7/2x250m/1.7km format just so fast and involving a lot of wading and surf skills, but the race director is a good supporter of mine and I decided to support him by racing the event even though I was not confident at all of even finishing in the top ten with so many young fast guys there.
I shocked myself and managed to finish 3rd in the event just behind a couple of young Nutri Grain surf ironman guys, who really taught me a lesson in how to wade in and out of the water. The only thing I did win however was best vomit across the line! (and I didn’t get DQd for that either!) as the speed and format really took it out of me and I was over the moon to do well in a sprint event 3 weeks after an ironman so the signs were good for Albany the next week. I left on Thursday morning early and had a massive delay at the airport causing me to miss all my connections to Albany and having to stay in Perth for the night, I was not aware at the time but should have known this was a sign of things to come for my adventure west!
After checking into my fantastic accom at The Pelicans Resort I met up with Matt Burton, Leon Griffen and Mikey Gee for a cruise around the bike course and a few coffees. After that I was ready to hit the ground running and try and take a victory in this picturesque event. Being race number 1 added a bit of pressure obviously and my main concerns were Griffo and Guy Crawford, Guy is a great athlete and when he is on a good day he can really do some damage on the swim and bike, he did this in 70.3 Busselton a few years ago so I was well aware of his abilities, and Griffo needs no intro as his results across the world speak for themselves making him one of the toughest athletes I race against.
Race start was early as usual in WA with the sun rising at 4.30 and with a beach start I watched helplessly as Guy’s long legs bounded out toward the Great Southern Ocean like a Giraffe bounding away from a game hunter! he quickly gapped my small group which contained Griffo and Simon Billuea and we came out the crystal clear ocean with about 1:30min deficit.
This race is tough that is for sure with a steep climb straight out of T1 for a few kms then a steep downhill which was fantastic as it provided great views of the Gulf and Ocean, plus it took away the pain of the earlier Berg! I felt good on the bike and tried to peg back Guy with Griffo. Billeua decided to ride his own race and wait for the run much to man from Bendigo’s disgust and this was played out on the podium later on in the day! The ride is an out and back 90km with some solid undulations and some false flats so if you are a strong rider this race is for you!
At about the 60km mark I took on a small energy drink which accidentally slipped out of my mouth and in doing so I attempted to catch it, which then ended up on the road as I hit a slight bump while drinking it! Unfortunately there was an official there who gave me a red card, I asked if that was it and was I DQd? And he stated that we will talk about it later. To straighten out this whole thing, I am not disputing the call at all, it was an accident and no matter which way you look at it rubbish landed on the road from me so there was nothing I could do about it but to accept the call. There was no point argueing or wasting energy as I had clearly dropped the bottle outside an aid station, my point in this matter is why I was not DQd there and then?
I hit T2 and heard that I was about 4 minutes down on Guy who was obviously having a cracking day in his home state of WA. I set off in chase knowing that my running has been going well lately I thought I might have a chance especially with half of the run being on the sand plus I took off hard as I was worried about Griffo. I eventually caught Guy at about 12km and really worked hard to make the catch. Once I had about a minute lead I decided to find a rhythm and get to the finish to take the win.
Crossing the line first was great as there was a huge crowd and a lot of local support for me which is why I love heading West to race, plus heaps of media as well which was great for the race promotion. I ended up doing about 4 media interviews and photos before I was told I was DQd for littering on the bike. This annoyed me more than anything as I felt sorry for the race organisers who made an effort to attract the media down there in the first place and they had wasted their time talking to me who was now DQd. I just wish the penalty would have suited the crime as no advantage was gained from this at all for the me. In retrospect I received a 5min penalty for accidentally cutting the course in Shepparton a few years ago when the lead car took me through the wrong roundabout, and as most people have said in response to this you would get less for drafting!
Overall to all the people who have made their own judgement on what happened I hope you read this and respect the fact that I admit to dropping a bottle on the course and have no issue with this, I am sure everyone has had this happen in a long course race. The issue I have is the harshness of the penalty especially when we are racing for a livelihood and to support a young family. The 2nd point is that being made to run a hard 21km when I should have been DQd at the time was just ludicrous as it would have given Guy the chance to cross the line first and limit the negative publicity for the race itself.
I really enjoyed my time in Albany and a huge thanks to the organisers for making my stay memorable. I am sure this race will double in size in a few years as its not only a great unique race but a nice holiday destination for familes in the new year. I hope this clears everything up and thanks everyone for their support that weekend, it was a great way to start the year with a win albeit not official and good to know the form is still there after a long year. Also a big congrats to Guy Crawford and Kate Bevilaqua for winning in their home state, and with the prize money they can now get their cat out of quarantine and give it a full manicure and pedicure package!