Ko's Experience @ the ITU Cross Triathlon World Champs

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Our Auckland Manager Ko recently attended the ITU Cross Triathlon World Champs - here's his diary! Warning: this is a long read, so make sure you've got some water and a comfy place to sit!

I am not much of a writer but I thought I would attempt a bit of a race report and fill everyone in on how my race went, particularly my clients from Wellington who were part of my journey that I won’t get to have my usual debrief with.

I set my goals early this year to represent New Zealand in triathlon with the main goal being the ITU Cross-Triathlon Champs in Lake Crackenback Australia. To achieve this I would have to qualify in April this year at the Xterra Nationals in Rotorua. Long story short I came 3rd and qualified, now for anyone who knows me reasonably well I can be slightly random in my training as I love getting outdoors with friends and having fun in the fresh air so my training is sometimes not quite as specific as it should be. However I learnt my lesson in Rotorua, being the tight arse I am I decided it would be much more fun and cheaper to build my bike from the ground up so sourcing all the parts and components separately and putting it together myself. This was a great idea until it was the week before the race and I was still missing half of my bike. This led to a bit of a scramble leading up to the race but more importantly my first ride on my new steed was on race day. You don't have to know much about bikes to realise that this wasn't a great idea. To cut to the chase there were a few teething issues the main one being my lower back locking up as it wasn't used to being in that position for almost two hours. I sucked it up and finished but vowed never to make such a rookie mistake again and actually train specificity for the big one in November.

So I got home set up a training plan and got stuck into some decent training through winter. At some point during the year we found out my partner Laura qualified for the World ITU Sprint Champs in Cozumel in September. Not being one to give up 4 weeks of sunbathing with a bit of supporting thrown in on the side off we went. Now to be honest not much training happened here but it was an awesome experience watching her come cross the line and realise a dream she had worked hard all year to achieve.

Little did we know this would be the start of living out of a suitcase for the next couple of months. We got back to exciting news that Mo had finally closed the deal we had been working on for a place in Auckland. Results Room was expanding to the city of sails and I would be managing the gym moving forward. Now this is where I gain respect for people with families, full time jobs and all the other little things life throws at you but still find time to get their sweaty sessions in. I had gone from training being a priority to fitting in a little bit here and there. It was certainly an interesting lead up to one of the biggest race of my life trying to wrap things up back in Wellington and moving etc etc. Having said that I have enjoyed every minute of it. I just had to take a slightly different mindset leading into the race and not let it eat away at me, I knew I wasn't at my peak but if I got all worked up it I would end up sick and in a negative mindset. (I promise I am not making excuses!)

The reason I rambled on about my earlier race in Rotorua was to highlight my rookie mistake on the bike. I found it quite amusing that the last time I had touched my Mountainbike bike was about 6 months ago at that very race. Since all my bikes were stored in Wellington I had done it again my first ride all season was going to be race day. We packed all our gear and headed to Australia.

Race day…..I think anyone who turns up to a start line whether is world champs or a small local race doubts whether they have done enough leading into it. The beauty of my job is I deal with this often and almost every time people do better than they expect so I knew I had to stay positive and just see what happened once the gun went off.

Swim...The swim was two laps around the edge of lake Crackenback a very small lake around 750m in circumference. The first lap was pretty rough as the first buoy was only 100m from the start meaning it was like peak hour traffic in Auckland City at the first turn. So with arms and legs flying everywhere in a dark murky pond it's fair to say I didn't enjoy the first lap I copped a couple good ones it each eye so let's just say my goggles weren't going to leak as they were wedged firmly in each eye socket!. Lap two was slightly better after I told myself to harden up I got on someone's feet and just stayed there, this time I knew the lines to take as there was a lot of weeds that you got tangled in if you took the shortest line (again I would have figured that out had I swum the course before the race). I came out of the water in 6th place in my age group and was happy to see the back of that lake.

Bike....The course was pretty flat compared to New Zealand so I was happy with that, I wouldn’t call it technical but there was certainly time to be made as there was a lot of flowy single track and tight corners. My plan was to settle into a rhythm on the first lap and take a few risks on the flats and descents. This worked out perfectly as I would loose a little bit of time on the short climbs but make it up with some change on the descents. It is a little bit harder to take in food on a mountain bike as you are trying your best not to fall of most of the time so I had to made a very conscious effort to keep fluid and calories coming in. I enjoyed the ride, made sure I kept getting fuel in and pegged back three places to enter transition in 3rd place. Now usually I would be pretty happy with my efforts but when I heard the commentator say I was in 3rd I thought bugger I am in for a hard run since I knew the guys chasing me were pretty quick. I took off at a decent pace but about five minutes in my back was starting to tighten up…..Surprise surprise two bands of strapping tape down my lower back does not replace time on the saddle.

Run…. The run was brutal with a mix of bogs, rocky river bed, short sharp climbs and a rather deep and bloody cold stream walk (20-30m wading down the stream). I put on a brave face leaving transition but once I got around the first corner I knew I was in for a fun 60 minutes. Three laps of the course was mentally challenging and I even managed to lose 2 places along the way. I wouldn't say the run was unenjoyable since it was a new experience running on a course like that and I started to get my legs back in the last lap passing a few people along the way however they were in a different age group. It was much more mentally stimulating than staring at the black tarmac for hours. You also can’t hide from the crowd for a sneaky walk as they were scattered all over the course this is both a positive and a negative depending on how you look at it!

All in all I crossed the line in 3 hours and had achieved my goal of reaching the world champs. It is always an awesome experience wearing the New Zealand uniform and slogging it out against the best for a couple of hours. It has been a good kick start to the season for me and set me up nicely for Port Of Tauranga half. After that I will lace up my speedy shoes and spend the early part of 2017 racing sprint distance in the Sovereign Tri series around NZ.

Peace!