2012 ITU Age-Group World Triathlon Championships, Auckland – Race Report

After a fitfull sleep my day started at 4:30am with a caffeinated coffee, porridge and Beet-it beetroot juice for breakfast. This was followed by a shower and getting my stuff ready to go. I then walked down through Auckland CBD to transition area with Graham and Sharon at 5:30am, had my helmet checked and started setting up my transition stall whilst drinking High5 energy drink.

The conditions were looking good, lightish winds, not too hot, and dry. The water was calm and the roads were drying nicely.

Once set up we walked through transition to The Cloud for a final toilet visit and to get changed. We saw Anna, Morgan and my parents all of whom were dressed in ‘Team Cole’ kit!

We then dropped our bags off at the bag drop area in the Expo Marquee and then waited to be herded into pens ready for the start.

At last we were nearly there. After months of training, qualifying races and preparations, several days of travelling, and a few tense days in Auckland. Plenty of pre-race stress and nerves and some thoughts of not being up to this, we were finally getting ready to go. I put my hats and goggles on, kept myself to myself, focussed on the task at hand and managed to subdue to nerves. Now was time for action.

Swim

We had final checks made of hats and timing chips and were then led down the gantry and onto the crowded start pontoon. We were told to get into the water and we were off before I was ready. I didn’t have time to start my watch and wasn’t ready to go, but off I went.

It was a fast and furious start with lots of contact. I kept catching my left arm on someone and missing strokes and the 350m leg to the first big buoy seemed to take forever. I started dropping people once out of the shelter of the wharf where the water was a little more choppy and finally found some space. I then had a nice strong swim back to the pontoon, overtaking lots of people from the previous wave.

I climbed out onto the pontoon, careful not to slip, removed my hats and goggles and stripped my wetsuit down to my waist. My swim time was 11:22. Not the fastest but OK and I’m sure the first buoy was further out than on the swim familiarisation a fee days before.

Bike

It was then a huge run of at least 400m to T1 where I missed my bike slightly to start with. I found it pretty quickly though and was soon on my way fully helmeted and running to the mount line where I made a fast flying mount and then started getting into my shoes only to discover that the strap had come out of the buckle. I have no idea how that had happened, but it was definitely in there when I left it. I had no option to lose time whilst carefully and calmly rethreading the strap through the narrow opening whilst riding along. This is a lot harder than it sounds as the strap is designed not to come out of the buckle so is wider than the buckle hole itself. One handed, travelling slowly on a bike, balancing barefoot and one footed on the pedals whilst surrounded by other athletes isn’t really the time or place for such intricate operations. I managed to do it in the end but it took ages and wasted loads of time. At least I was moving, albeit relatively slowly the whole time snd didn’t have to stop. The second shoe went on OK and I was finally able to settle into my ride.

I had no idea where I was in my category now but I was overtaking a load of people from the previous categories. There was no drafting of course but with so many slower people on the course that meant I was riding on the right hand side most of the way being really careful not to violate any rules. Steve McKeown flew past me at one point – I had no chance of keeping him in sight.

The bike course was lovely, the roads were drying, there was a tailwind on the way out and the ‘climbs’ were all short, insignificant little rises rather than proper hills. The descents were all OK as well with nothing too technical. Lots of people seemed to struggle with them though for some reason. I saw plenty of cheating as far as drafting goes though, especially from certain countries, but was extra careful not to do ay of it myself and stayed well clear of the 10x3m box around everyone else.

I did get overtaken by a few other cyclists, but not many. It was into the wind on the way back along the coast road so I had a slight disadvantage over the bigger, stronger athletes here but the way back is only 1/3 of the course and is completely flat so I was able to keep up a nice steady pace.

Run

I made a nice flying dismount into T2 and jogged the long 400m route into transition held up behind slower people in the narrow lane between the barriers. I found my spot easily and was soon into my running shoes and onot the run.

My watch wasn’t working properly due to not starting it at the beginning of the swim and then pfaffing with it on the bike, so there were no split times at each mile for me – I was running blind. I was feeling OK though and kept up the pace. I got overtaken by an Aussie in my age group early on the way out but was unable to stay with him so didn’t really try. No one else overtook me though and I overtook plenty of other people but they were all from waves that started before me. I didn’t see anyone else from my category until another Aussie overtook me within the last half mile. He went past fast as well though and I couldn’t stay with him. I picked up the pace towards the end and did catch him during my sprint to the finish line but didn’t start the sprint early enough and crossed the line a few seconds (3 by the official timing) behind him.

I collected my finisher medal and a chocolate muffin, put on my warm clothes and found Anna, Morgan and my parents. I then waited for Graham who finished 10 minutes behind me – I expected him to be much closer than that. We then headed back to the hotel for a huge breakfast. Muesli, yoghurt, fruit and nuts, bacon, sausages, beans, mushrooms, hash browns, toast, croissants, pastries, smoothies, coffee and more yoghurt.  I felt a little bit sick though so couldn’t quite manage it all.

Results

After a quick shower it was onto Internet to check the results. Friends and family back home had been watching the live feed on TV / Internet channels so seemed to know the results before we did, but they soon filtered through to us.

I came 11th with an official time of 1:09:19 – I’m pleased with that, 11th in the world championships is petty good in my books, especially on my first attempt and without the greatest of preparation. That was also good enough to be 2nd Brit home which means I pre-qualify to compete for Team GB at the 2013 World Championships in London next year.

My splits were:
750m Swim: 11:22 – 7th in category, 118th overall out of 1295
T1: 3:20 – 15th / 165th
20km Bike: 33:08 – 20th / 125th
T2: 2:49 – 14th / 125th
5.3km Run: 18:36 – 16th / 120th
Overall: 1:09:19 – 11th / 86th

Graham, in the same age group as me came in at 1:19:11 which was good enough for 66th in our age group and 513th overall. He lost approximately 3 minutes in each discipline to me.

Sharon finished in a time of 1:27:30 which put her in 40th in age group and 258th female.

Overall it was a great experience, by far the biggest event I’ve ever done and World Class in all respects. The closed roads, the TV coverage, the sponsor adorned barriers along the roads, the live feeds and live commentary, the organisation, the lead up, the huge numbers of spectators, the grandstands, the fact that the whole of downtown Auckland was closed for the event and the marshalling all made it world class. The number of competitors and level of competition was world class too, and ‘little old me’ was in there with it, not only participating but competing with and out performing most of the best age-group triathletes in the world…. Amazing!

Thanks of course to all my sponsors and supporters, you helped me achieve a dream and have helped spur me on to greater heights. Next up is the European Champs in June 2013 followed by the London 2013 World Champs. Thanks most though to Anna, she really is the best support crew I could ask for. Patient, supportive and tolerant during my training and then continues to work tirelessly to make sure I have everything I need and everything I don’t need in the lead up to, during and after the race.

Time now for a little downtime for all of us before the roller coaster ride of hard work, training and preparations for 2013 begin.

12 Responses

  1. TriBlogs says:

    Well done Al! Great report, enjoy a well deserved (triathletes) rest now.

  2. Jonny says:

    Well done Al, you really have inspired me. I’ve been looking into a few triathlon enticer events here in Perth, WA to get me started.

    Hope yourself, Anna and Morgan are having a great time touring NZ!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Wehey Al! Eleventh in the world champs, amazing! So impressed. Say hi to everyone and enjoy the rest of your time there.
    n

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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