Sunday, 27 February 2011

2011 Horsham Triathlon - The fury of the hidden locusts!

There is no question that Horsham and the Wimmera has had it tough recently. Crop damaging rain, floods, locust plagues, and worst of all, MIXX 101.3 FM cranking out seriously shitty tunes such as Madison Avenue - Who The Hell Are You. It's no wonder mother nature is dishing out some payback on the region!

With a change of date, I could finally make it back to Horsham for the weekend of the triathlon. It only took a quick Facebook status update calling for team mates and we had our team! Katie, my sister, had been running 5kms on a regular basis. Katie's boss, Mark, had just done the Lorne Pier to Pub and does 1500m in the pool three times a week. And I'd do the 20km bike time trial.

Katie had been training with a loaner Garmin Forerunner 310 tracking her pace/time over 5kms, but had to return it before Saturday. So I went on a mission to find her one before I left the city. I tried Doncaster Shoppingtown (risking my life in the MouseTrap(tm) carpark), DickSmith Powerhouse, RebelSport, The Good Guys, Workout World, even Runners World in Balwyn, which wasn't staffed when I walked in... and out again. Nobody had entry level Forerunners in stock. I told Katie the bad news. She then got on eBay, and after a few clicks, she had a new one delivered on Friday morning. How do you like those apples Gerry Harvey?

So back to the event.... The race briefing wasn't very detailed, but we'd scoped out the junior event prior to our start and knew where everything was. For two days I'd been training around Horsham, long flat open roads, sunny weather, billions of locusts. Only one found its way into my mouth. The rest bounced off legs, arms, face, helmet, bike. Thankfully the little buggers don't bite! So having prepared for the heat and the locusts - right on race start, 5:05pm on Saturday, it started raining, which meant no locusts! On the flip side the bike course became very sketchy with three laps of an out and back course with a dog leg intersection to contend with in the middle of each lap.

The team cyclists had to line up at the entry to the transition area and wait for their swimmer to hand over the timing strap. Local rider Sam Witmitz (Letua) who's off overseas riding professionally for the next 6 months, looked to be my main competition on the bike, but he was in an all male team, so the bike race wouldn't matter to our team results. First through transition was a solo competitor, followed by another all-male team swimmer, Witmitz and I were wondering how far we'd start from each other. Question soon answered - both our guys separated by only seconds into transition. My team swimmer Mark had put in a monster effort in the pool, using his open water skills to show some much younger guys how it's done. Even with a dodgy knee his running from the pool to the bike area was on par with Usain Bolt over 100m!

Helmet on, shoes on, sunnies on, I ran the bike over to the 'mount' line. Witmitz was already on his bike but still finding his pedals. I cranked around him and up the road, keeping him off my wheel, even though it was a non-drafting event. After very little warm up and having to over-power the first few kms to see if I could break Witmitz - I was in the hurt box sooner than expected, but it was working. The locals were out in force along the course. Out the front of their houses, on the side of the road, cheering, clapping, I even spotted a nana waving two Aussie flags all by herself yelling out GO GO GO! I'd passed the other competitors by lap 2 and was now chasing the lead motorbike. I kept Witmitz off my wheel and was putting a bit of time into him each lap. At the main turn around point there was a good size crowed there yelling as we turned around and headed back for the next laps. Sprinting back up to speed took no energy at all when all you can hear is people shouting your name and being entertained by the event. All a bit of a novelty since most of the TT events I do don't involve many spectators.... apart from the odd sheep or cow on the roadside.

Coming into the final few 100m the marshal was waving me around for another lap, I passed him with a, "I'm done here!". Lucky I was keeping count. Getting off the bike and running in cleats for 40m was harder than the bike leg itself. I found Katie, passed the timing strap over, and had a bit of a lay down on the concrete in the rain. Spent! A touch over 44km/h for the bike leg. The legs were thumping from the 40m run! Poor nervous Katie was the first runner off. She knew where to go, she knew what pace she could hold for 5kms, and was focused on doing well.

So while Katie is out doing the run leg in this virtual-blog-story I'll tell a tale of her competitive sporting background. It's not much. As kids we did VicSwim in the Jeparit pool, and the compulsory school swimming sports. The best tale is of Katie coming last in a swimming event. But she didn't come last in the event she started, it was last place in the event that started AFTER her event. So there is good reason why we didn't put her in the swim leg. :) She's always been an active person, walking, running, a little cycling, but never competitively. She's also raced dirt-track stock cars, but that's a whole other story.

The rain was still coming down as Katie tapped along the road to complete lap 1. She'd been passed by a few other runners who were in different categories, so that didn't matter. She was well on target and not slowing down! Mark and I had put her well in front of the other mixed teams, all she had to do was what she'd done in training. 28mins or so for 5kms and we'd be in for a shot at first place. While waiting for Katie to return we were all entertained by the duathlon cyclists cheating death on a slippery corner.

In no time at all, in the distance little Katie was coming into the home straight. Not slowing down, still going strong. Passing through the finish line well under her target time of 28 minutes! Hitting a personal best 5km in competition, doesn't get any better than that. And with that, we won our category!

Team #31 - Mark in the mix.
My turn. RUN!
Ride done. Pain face just taking the helmet off.

Katie is off, and I'm about to collapse.

Run Forest! Run!

Katie at the finish line - 5km complete! Awesome job!
Winners - Mixed Team Full Distance.
Official teams results are up: (We were "Team triPod").

It was also great to catchup with a few other competitors at the event after a few friendly trash-talking exchanges with them on Facebook in the lead up. I was up at 5:15am today to get to Humevale on time for the Coburg TT, but it was called off due to rain. I was only in Melton at the time they called it off so got to come home and catch up on that missing sleep.... 

Random Visuals...

Welcome back to the peloton Alberto. You're looking fit.

The new generation of locust have adapted to the mesh defense already! They can defeat it!

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