Busselton has always been a pretty kind race destination for me, solid results and great family trips have been a highlight of my experiences in WA. This year I went back to Busso to try and round out the year with a solid race in one of my favourite locations. After a big trip to Worlds earlier this year, I travelled without the family and just made a quick weekend trip with friends.
People asked why I headed back to Busso this year, but it truly is an amazing race, it times well in the calendar year, you always get good weather and logistically the race venue has everything (even sharks on the odd occasion). The race is known for its fast times with the course being very flat, but people often under estimate how hard it is to ride strongly on a flat course. Turning the pedals all day in the aero position without any assistance in momentum is quite fatiguing, and from experience it can also make the run fairly challenging.
Arriving in Busso Friday afternoon I was greeted by some fantastic weather, not too hot by WA standards and some light winds to keep cool, if this remained we were in for a good day. Coming into the race my plan was to enjoy the day and see what I had left left in the tank this year, no real expectations in terms of time or pace but just an effort I was proud of and of course a memorable experience.
As I approached the race venue on Sunday morning we were greeted by ideal swim conditions. It was fairly mild and very still and with the sun slowly rising, Busso had turned it on for us. Forecasts were good and only looking like a high of 27 degrees, but as we started at 5.20am I would be off the course before any of the real heat arrived.
The new rectangular course was a sensible addition to the race, not as iconic as going further along the Jetty, but made sense for race logistics. The 70.3 had a rolling start and I started in the top zone, fairly near the front. We were set off in small time increments and the first group was away fast and I’m glad I didn’t try and go with them, I knew they would likely be a couple of minutes ahead of where I was at and didn’t want to get stuck swimming solo so I started a bit further back hoping for some similar standard swimmers. I had my usual good start when we set off from the beach (extra running) got out well and around the first buoy and settled into the main group at my pace, overall it was probably a tad easier than I wanted to go but there was not a group up ahead, so I just maintained my position and got around the course as well as I could feeling strong. It was my first race in my new Roma Wetsuit which didn’t disappoint.
After a solid transition I was onto my Giant Trinity and into my new LG shoes and trying to emulate my best Lionel Sanders riding (unfortunately to no avail). I honesty felt very average when I got on the bike, pretty flat and my glutes and hamstrings were feeling tight. This continued for the better part of 25 mins with my output lower than usual, until I started to loosen up and feel better at the first turn U turn. I was in about 6th overall at this time so pushed on to try and get back into the race. I upped my game and started riding above my planned power output to catch the race ahead, I was riding a bit too hard but felt strong and was happy to roll the dice a bit. I moved into 5th and then after about 20 mins I caught up to 4th. I tried to recover and ride with him, but I wasn’t strong enough on the day and I started to struggle to hold him, after 45km I got dropped. I could see that the groups were stacking up behind me and now riding solo again as I had done for most of the race I tried to work to stay ahead of the groups. At 70km I was toast! Started pedaling squares and my gluteus and hamstrings were fatigued from my erratic pacing. I got passed by a couple of guys with about 15km to go and tried to consolidate as I headed back to T2. I was 5 mins down on my bike from last year, a bit disappointed, but glad to be off the bike and not too concerned with where I had put myself.
As I got off the bike I felt ok, a bit stiff in the back and tired, but I knew my pace would probably be faster than most so I tried to get into a smooth, efficient rhythm and quickly caught 3 guys in the first few kms and moved into 4th overall. I knew I was a looooong way down on 1st but just kept moving forward, trying to be patient and hoping people came back to me. By about 7km I had moved into 3rd and finally caught 2nd by 12km. As I heading into the final third of the run my legs were shot and my muscles were getting a bit a bit ‘grabby’ and I had to adjust my style to prevent cramping (again the result of some erratic bike pacing). I was still moving relatively well to 16km but 1st place was out reach and my pace was slipping away. I kept plugging away and despite the fatigue I was enjoying the race. I managed to cross the line in 4.10, 2nd in my age group and 2nd overall. I was a bit disappointed with the result being 5 mins down on the bike and 5 mins from where I usually am on the run, but content that I was out classed by first of place today and 2nd was what I deserved.
It was nice to round out the year with another podium and l look forward to a little break now before planning for 2019. A big thanks to the volunteers, local community and supporters at Busso, it is always an amazing race and I will be back next year for sure.
A big thanks to my team for a great 2019, capped off with an Age Group World Champs, looking forward to some new goals next year.
Energy Link Coaching, Square One Physiotherapy, Giant Sydney, Vision PT Mosman, Science in Sport Australia, Pace Athletic (Hoka One One Australia), and my beautiful family.