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Jules Richards
Jules Richards

Tis is the big one!

Triharder78by Triharder78Oct 31st 2012
So, a few days have passed since the race, although with the amount of things I've packed into those five days it feels like a lifetime ago. New Zealand is truly an amazing place, the speed limit on most roads is 100kph, I reckon this is because the scenery is so stunning that if people drove any faster there would be crashes everywhere because you find yourself staring, open mouthed at the vistas around every corner. There must a country somewhere which is really mundane because NZ has stolen all the beautiful countryside.

I am currently sat in the sunshine overlooking Manu bay with perfect head high plus surf rolling in off the point, every wave breaking perfectly and exactly the same as the last.

Anyway back to the race. Mike and I were fortunate enough to be offered a hotel room for the night before the race to cut down the amount of time it was going to take us to get to transition, we were going to have to get up at 5am as it was! We had to share a bed but as we've known each other since school it wasn't too strange, not exactly how I had expected to be spending the night before the world championships but I was so tired I could have slept anywhere. As you can imagine I didn't have the best nights sleep, constantly worrying that I was going to sleep through my alarm meant I woke at 30 minute intervals from about 3am, never the less I finally got up at5am feeling nervous/excited and ready asi was ever going to be. Looking out of the window (although it was dark!) I could at least see that it wasn't raining (result!) and more importantly that the wind had dropped.

We strolled through town amidst other athletes from all over the world and locals making their way home after a night out. Stopping off for a coffee Mike was quizzed by a drunken local as to why he was wanting around carrying a bike wheel, he to,d her it was a new clubbing craze to carry bike bits around with you...wonder if it'll catch on...?

Having already racked my bike I walked transition through (it was massive...from the swim exit to my bike must have been the best part of 600m! There was some nervous chatter amongst the athletes about whether the weather would hold and soon enough it was time for last checks, a final toilet stop, drop my bag and get my wetsuit on. Lining up in the holding pens there was some good banter going on, the first eve off was a combined one containing the 16-19 and 20-24 year olds, 100 nervous people's lipped into the docks and 30 seconds later they were off. The age group world champs had started, no going back now!

Soon enough we made our way onto the blue carpeted pontoon and sat down. I sat there staring out at the turn buoy, 350m in the distance, thinking about everyone and everything that had got me to this point. I'm unbelievably thankful that I've got such a supportive family, friends, work and great sponsors that insisted after Bristol that I was going to go to NZ when I was considering not going.

We got into the water which wasn't as cold or salty as I had been led to believe and then the starters gun went. The swim start was the usual carnage, arms, legs and bodies everywhere, getting punched and kicked in all directions, the only difference being was that it continued virtually out to the first buoy as the standard of swimmer was that much higher. Finally I got my own space and managed to get into my stroke and calmed down, the leg back in felt great, I could see that I was catching the wave before me and there weren't huge numbers of blue hats ahead, as I climbed up onto the pontoon I realised I was leading the chase group out of the water which felt really good and spurred me on through the massive transition. I completed the swim in 12:45 which was slower than I'd hoped for but I know that it's a slow course (Richard Varga and Jonny Brownlee coming in just shy of 19 minutes compared to the 16:55 swim by Vargas at the Olympics) so I couldn't be too disappointed.

I knew transition was going to be useful to me as I'm a runner and the distance from the swim exit to the mount line was pretty big, this meant I could put some time into people by charging through as fast as I could (in a safe controlled manner of course!). T1 was good, in fact for me it was very good, 3:09 which was the 7th fastest in my age group and 71st fastest out of nearly 1300 people.

Unfortunately my mount then proceeded to let me down in a big way, jumping on my bike I had appeared to have entirely forgotten how to ride my bike, all the good work done in transition was quickly undone as the people I had past sailed past me whilst I wobbled down the road unable to get my feet in or even on top of my shoes! After about 300m I managed to sort myself out and get going, the first part of the course was pretty technical, hilly, with some dangerous downhill sections, it was definitely going to be won by the guys who put it on the line and escaped unscathed. About a third up the first climb my friend Mike passed me, this actually really helped focus my work and it wasn't long before I had reeled him in and gone past him. He said later he struggled on the hills but him going past was just the kick start I needed.

I successfully negotiated the trickier parts of the course without incident, the ffwd 90mm wheels I had been given to use were fantastic, especially as the wind had dropped and I could really feel the benefit of having deeper section wheels than I normally do. Soon enough I hit the turnaround and headed back into town, even managing to pass some people by now as we went straight into a headwind. Coming towards the mount zone the crowds were amazing, everyone was shouting and encouraging people, including standard distance athletes who's races were later on in the day. I came off the bike in 35:05 which considering the start I had I was pleased with, it isn't a hugely competitive time compared with others but it was good enough for 39th in age group and it is a massive improvement on where I was at the start of the season considering I struggled to ride a sub 35 20km on a flat course, let alone on a technical course with some stiff winds.

Anyway, off the bike and into T2 for a blast through, it was good because I t meant by the time I got to my shoes I pretty much already had my running legs on, I steamed through T2 in 2:44 which was 9th fastest in age group and 66th fastest overall.

The run course didn't overly suit me, it was flat with lots of turns and I tend to run better on a harder run course. It was also long at 5.3km but that played to my strengths as I'm a stronger runner. Soon enough I was taking laces back that I had lost on the run, I was concerned that as there were so many corners on the course it was going to be difficult to focus on the people in front to try and close them down but there were long enough stretches to chase and catch people. The run felt really good, picking people off in a world championship race feels amazing, especially if they've gone by you on the bike. Again, the support on the run course was fantastic, lots of people out cheering us on all the way round, I think it helped that the sun was out and it was now past 8am!

Coming down the road to the finish chute where the crowd was really dense was an amazing experience and turning onto the famous blue carpet was insane! I had a quick look behind me and saw that I had no one chasing me down and I hadn't seen anyone in front that it was likely I was going to catch, so as I turned onto the blue carpet and came round the final corner my intention was to cruise down the last bit soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the shout out by the race commentator. However, as I turned the corner there in front of me, about 50m up the carpet was an Australian, I wasn't sure if they were my age category or not and I wasn't going to waste any time finding out, I stuck on the afterburners and chased him down for all I was worth, I passed him with about 30m to go, crossed the finish line and nearly threw up on the camera streaming live to the world! At least it showed I was trying! In the end I completed the 5.3km run in 18:44 which would have given me a PB if it was a 5km course.

Staggering down towards the athletes finishing area I caught up with a load of other GB athletes, which was great, but obviously meant I had missed one of the 3 automatic qualification spots for London next year, in the end I was 9th GB home out of 18 so I'm pretty happy. I went into shed 10 where the cool down area was, got some fluids and food on board and grabbed a free massage which was excellent.

Out into the early morning sun and to the realisation it was all over, the major goal, the thing I had been working wow arms for 4 months was now over and I could fully relax and enjoy New Zealand. I managed to catch up with Chris who felt his race hadn't gone brilliantly but as it turned out he placed retry credibly in his age group, which was won by Mike Parsons who I had got to know on the flight on the ways over, considering he's suffering from a stress fracture it makes his win even more impressive, placing 11th overall!

There was a real buzz around the docks as I headed off to Skype home and enjoy some breakfast.

Overall, the race couldn't have gone better for me (apart from the horrendous mounting incident) and although my placing wasn't fantastic there's not a great deal more I could have done. Considering the time constraints I've had this year I feel that I did myself and my family proud.

A big congratulations should be given to the organising committee, the race itself was excellent, the bike course had something for every type of rider, hills, technical bits and places for the real power houses to get into their rhythm. Not only that but the whole organisation from the parade of nations to racking and all the facilities provided were amazing. It's a race I'd do over and over again (if it weren't on the other side of the world!)

Paratriathlon

In the afternoon I headed down to watch the paratriathlon and cheer on firstly the British contingent but also show respect to all the competitors, if I think I have difficulties trying to get training in, it's nothing compared to what these guys experience every day of their lives. It's also the fact that not only are they competing but the fact they are producing times that are faster than mine, truly inspirational stuff.

The British team put in an incredible performance to win 5 gold medals, 3 silver and a bronze, Rio 2016 is going to be one hell of an event for British paratriathlon!
by guest: WIlliam Reid, Feb 4th 2013 16:16
My wife (Christine Reid) did the NZ Tri (Olympic, AG 55-59)! I'm only getting around to doing our photo albums now and with over 600 pictures, well, my memory isn't that good. My wife kept a written journal for herself but not so comprehensive. Fell on to your site and have to say your blogs of the experience are fantastic! Took me right back there. Well written, great commentary, and observations . (And you're right about the team uniforms. We we're constantly being asked to trade but my wife couldn't part with hers. (Seriously, she never took it off. We got lost on the Dunston Trail near Dunedin. The sheep were looking at her like "Really, lady? It's been two weeks.") Anyway, congrats to you and thanks for the blogs. My wife will love them!

Regards,

Bill Reid
London, Ontario, Canada
 
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