If there's a destination race you want to head to Australia, Busso is it. I raced the Ironman here in 2014 and as well as a great location for a race, it's also a great time of year to take a break with family and friends. I'd had this race set as a target for 6 months and after a good showing at Sunshine Coast 70.3 in September, I figured if I executed the race well here, I'd have a good shot at going sub 4 hours.
The build up to the race had been good, I'd been fit and healthy and was excited to get back to WA. The weather forecast was set for a nice day, it's always going to be pretty hot here so it gives you a good opportunity to go fast if you can deal with the heat well. I love the swim at Busso, its the most iconic part of the race and the Ocean conditions are ideal. Although its a flat course, if your not careful there is always a tendency to over-bike and struggle on the run. There is also no reprieve on this bike course, you spend almost the entire time in the aerobars and there is no real opportunity to relax or recover.
I arrived in Busso on the Friday afternoon and went about my usual pre-race routine - a little bit of exercise and a lot of pizza!
The 70.3 started at 5.30 and conditions were good. The onshore wind was up a bit which was keeping it cooler and meant that the start of the bike would probably be a little blowy, but nothing major. I lined up in the rolling start pen about 10 rows back. I figured this could give me the option to chase a few people then get out onto the bike course fairly high up the field.
I headed into the water and got a great start. I was fairly very relaxed and full of energy, passing people quite regularly as we headed out towards the first red tun buoy. About half way out I knew I was getting towards the front of the field and I could see the lead Kayak. By the time I hit the first turn and headed under the jetty I was in the top 5 swimmers. I rounded the second buoy and started to make way in towards the beach. A couple of hundred meters later a Surf Lifesaver started gesturing towards me? I thought I was off course so I tried to straighten up and kept swimming, he then paddled right up to me and put his hand up by face, I quickly stopped and he told me to swim to the nearest ladder? I immediately knew what he was referring to - SHARK! As I swam towards the jetty I could see the helicopter hovering over the water with 2 boats beside it. Swimmers were climbing up on to the jetty and we were told the swim had been cancelled and to get to the beach. Not the ideal start for anyone, but a very smart, safe and efficient move my Ironman and the Surf Lifesaving crew. It was handled very calmly and although some competitors in the 70.3 and Ironman were disappointed, it was the right move.
We were told the race would resume with a rolling start into T1. As I had swum out over half of the course I was one of the last competitors back to the beach. I had to whip my wetsuit off quite swiftly and without trying to be an asshole, push my way a bit further up the field for a rolling start. I couldn't get right to the start, I was about third back in the field. I jogged pretty steadily into T1 and got out onto my bike without much stress. The riders were lined up ahead of me and across the road, I decided not to worry about my power too much, pass as many people as I could until I found some clear road. This was taking longer than I thought and it was pretty windy on the way out. By 20 minutes I still hadn't found the clear road I wanted and was averaging around 30w higher than planned. I just stuck with it and eventually heading out on the long straight towards the second U turn on the course I found some clear road (30 minutes in). From here I settled into my set rhythm, I could see at the next turn that I was sat in 6th overall (disregarding the rolling start, I was probably near the lead). The distances between riders remained very similar from here to the end. On the second half of the ride I started to suffer from the harder start to the bike. My power was dropping, but due to the more favourable wind direction I was speeding up. as I approached T2 I could see that i had made up time on the 4 riders ahead as they were now in view, but one guy (relay rider) was out the front looking strong.
Usually my favourite leg, today was going to be a bit of a struggle. Due to the swim being cancelled I knew a sub 4 clocking was off the cards as a target, but due to my quick ride I was looking forward to a good finish. As I jumped off the bike, I quickly moved through transition and overtook 2 competitors, I got into my stride, caught another on the first turn out of transition then another in the first mile. I was now second overall and running my predicted pace, the only problem - it felt extremely difficult! Usually at this point I'd be cruising and going about chasing down the field but the extra effort early on the bike had hurt me. My quads, hamstrings and glutes were already feeling fatigued. By 5km a relay runner came past me and I was done, I tried to go with him and use him to pull me along but the body wasn't good. At around 8km as I headed back towards transition on the first lap of 2, I had well and truly hit mechanical failure. I no longer had the ability to maintain my usual running cadence, stride length or stability. This was something that I usually experienced in the latter stages of the run. The only saving grace was that I was the lead age grouper and that I had made a solid lead from the bike. From here it was a gradual slowing of the pace, I was feeling pretty disappointed, but still spurred on by trying to maintain the lead. On the second lap I got to run with one of the younger lads I coach for a few kilometers which was nice. As I headed into the finish chute on lap 2 I had never been so glad to finish a race. My legs were cooked and it was getting very hot ( I felt for the Ironman competitors). As I crossed the line and saw my family I was so happy. The last time I raced here it was just me and my wife, now my 2 boys were here watching me win the race - a very cool feeling!
Now it was time to head to the Margarat River for some well earned family time, and a few drinks. Thanks again Busso, you were awesome and I will definitely be back.