IRONMAN QUJING 70.3
Yesterday’s Ironman 70.3 here in Qujing was a blast. I was a bit anxious about the swim being at 2000m altitude and what it would mean for my breathing but I actually swam well (1.25/100m pace). I didn’t manage any feet and swam solo but was only about two and half minutes down getting on to the bike. Once out on to the ride I was just pushing as hard as I could. I didn’t look at my watc
h on the bike as I knew there would be no point as the numbers would have been uninspiring compared to what I would usually see closer to sea level. Besides, I just felt like going hard in this race and seeing what happened.
Domenico Passuello the Italian (ex-pro cyclist with team Quick Step) and I bridged up to the lead group by about 40km. I had never been in the front of a 70.3 race, let alone so soon into the race. I decided to sit in for a bit to assess the dynamics of the group of 5 riders before making my move. There seemed to be a bit of cat and mouse at play and to be honest the pace was pretty cold so it wasn’t long before I made my move. Four hours of racing is not much so I had to play to my strengths while the clock was ticking.
Only Domenico was able to come with me at this stage (about 45-50km mark) and we would do the rest of the ride together putting as much time as possible into the main group (average 43.7km/hr, 750m climbing). I was caught between a rock and hard place with Domenico either not wanting or not able to do much work but I knew I had to keep pushing to get a good gap on the chasers before the run. As it turned out my 2.04 bike split was certainly the fastest of the day and I can honestly credit much of this to the performance of my equipment. It was my first race with the Felt IA1 TT bike running my Profile Design Twenty Four/78 race wheels. I just felt awesome and can’t wait for my next opportunity to race on this set-up.
Once onto the two lap run course I felt pretty good still. I managed to hold a steady gap of about 30 metres on Domenico through the first 5km, but he bridged back up on the return leg and sat in behind as we went through a giant football stadium full of cheering spectators, quite a highlight. But once onto the second lap Domenico made his move and I couldn’t respond. It was tough to see him slowly pull away and not be able to go with him. The good news though was that we were holding a 4-5 minute lead over the chasers, so I knew I just had to keep pushing sub 4-min/km pace and a top 2 was probable (ended with average 3.49/km pace).
I finished 2nd in 3.55hrs and just under 2 minutes behind Domenico. This was easily my best result over this distance, both in time and placing. It was quite a thrill to race so well with so many Chinese supporters and media being so involved around the race (it was broadcast on live Chinese television and I had a film crew on a motorbike next to me the entire 21km run!).
From here I will catch up on some work in my hotel before heading to Suqian tomorrow which is where my next race is on Saturday. It has long been a dream of mine to race alongside Rich and Elina Ussher after years of admiring their performances in multisport events around the world. I am also pumped to race with Sam Clark again and reckon we should go good against some very strong teams. I will keep you all posted.
Thanks for the messages of support through social media, they do not go unnoticed I can assure you! Also thanks to the crew that make it all possible, especially Landmark Homes Central Otago as well as Profile Design, Felt Bicycles NZ and Besure Insurance.