It was my first trip to Taiwan and I didn’t know what to expect. Shortly after arriving I was impressed with the cleanliness, the friendliness of the people and the ease of negotiating my way around. I am so glad I came to race Challenge Taiwan.
The swim was in a fresh water reservoir. The water temp was 24 degrees so it was quite a surprise to find out at the pro briefing the evening before the race that it would be wetsuit legal. But this news was happily forgotten when the next announcement was the pro race would abide by a 20 metre draft law on the bike. Fantastic news!
The swim started with pro men and women together. We were into the usual wrestling match off the start line and soon I found myself in the main chase pack containing the vast majority of the pro field. I was finding the pace comfy but didn’t want to push further ahead because I knew it was unlikely I could, and I also didn’t want to overheat as I was feeling uncomfortably warm as it was.
I exited the water in 54min flat after weaving the last few hundred metres around some age groupers on the first of their two laps. Many of them were swimming breaststroke and delivering some solid Kung Fu kicks to my chest as I came up from behind them. Coming out of the water I was told I had a 5min deficit to the lead.
Onto my new Cube Aerium TT bike I was confident of bridging back to the lead. My legs weren’t feeling amazing but I recited my usual process cues (smooth circles, stay aero, be patient and believe in yourself) and found the ride both scenic and interesting. I had to stay focused as the roads were open and there were cars, buses, trucks, people and dogs everywhere. Intersections were a little nerve racking but I was still able to take in the surrounds and noticed some nice surf, a shop called ‘Pooz’ and a sign to the road leading to the ‘Upwards flowing river’.
I spent all 180km with no clue what position I was in and was being told by Sam Clark (C2C winner and out on course watching) that I was losing time to the front. Admittedly that was a little deflating as I have never lost time on the bike over 180km and certainly didn’t expect to be losing time in a 20m drafting race, but I just had to keep pushing along as best I could. My power was slightly down on Challenge Wanaka (318w average) but it was still a great ride and enough for a personal best time of 4.16 leaving me with positive first impressions of my new bike. It wasn’t until I racked my bike to start the run that I realised I was in 3rd as only two other bikes were already there. I had about 9-10min to make up.
I seemed to have better legs on the run and was moving well, gaining quickly on Guy Crawford in 2nd and slowly on Freddie Croneborg in 1st. It was just a matter of trying to hold 4min/km pace and keeping the nutrition going. I got lucky with the weather as it had clouded over and a breeze was keeping the temperature around 25 degrees. My bro-in-law Andrew and mate Sam were out on course and I was able to gauge progress much better than on the bike. I loved the run course and was within 1 second of the fastest marathon (2.52) but after passing Guy at 19km I was unable to close the gap on Freddie. 2nd was as good as it would get for me and I crossed pretty pumped on a new best time of 8.11.
Challenge Taiwan was a heck of a good time and I would recommend it to the kiwi crowd. You can take good form into it after a summer of training, it’s not too expensive to get here and it’s even cheaper once you arrive. The course is spectacular and the locals get in behind it. I am thrilled to start 2017 with two good races and look forward to heading to Noosa with my family and getting myself ready for Challenge Roth on July 9th. Keep up with my movements via my social media channels and get exclusive insights into my Challenge Taiwan race data by subscribing to the DA Endurance Editorial .
“In the June issue of the DA Endurance Editorial we put the spotlight on recovery. If you’ve ever worked hard towards a goal in sport and in life, you’ll have realised the equal importance recovery plays alongside the hard work itself. Sometimes we learn this the hard way through burnout, injury and illness. I look forward to sharing some of the lessons I have learned over the years and the way I now approach recovery around training, travel and life’s demands. We also welcome our special guest Biomedical Scientist, Andrew Nunn from Sleep Right Australia to share the effects of sleep on performance and recovery for endurance athletes”.
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