Our experience of Taupo this year has been a whole lot more enjoyable than it was in 2009! For a start we are all on functioning limbs, and though between us Steven and I were still one Ironman short of a pair, this non participant is not only able to manouver unaided but has been enjoying some short runs along the beautiful lakeside paths, that we had not even had a chance to notice last time we were here. The weather has been gorgeous ( compared to the cold drizzle of last year) which makes a huge difference and we are staying with the warmly hospitable family of David (friend from Epic camp) in their holiday home. Which just happens to be directly on the run course! They missed their grandkids joining them to follow the race this year, so I did my best to make up for that as we got out the paints and boards to make supporters signs.
As ever, race day itself was a long, hectic whirr…lots of rushing around and clock watching. Steven had a superb swim – out of the water in 51 minutes, and on the road for my camera in 57 – exactly as a large truck passed between us, I I almost missed him. At that point, I believe that he was the 6th age grouper on his bike, and was officially leading his age group. With several months of very strong cycling in him, I had high hopes for another Busselton-esque domination of the bike course – with allowance for a certain former commonwealth champion cyclist (Illingworth), also riding his age group. Sure enough by the time I saw Steven again at the start of the second lap (halfway), Illingworth had caught and passed Steven and put 3 minutes into him. Steven was on 4:40 pace however, which was really exciting! visit steven's blog for his account of his race. Russ and David passed not long afterwards. In fact, ‘our guys’ Steven, David and Russell were pretty close together – especially by the mid point of the run – with a few place changes along the day. Russ was flying and David got himself a Kona slot! They were passing by not far behind the leading women – a race that I enjoyed watching though was disappointed for Gina, who, having chatted several times at the QEII, I now consider a personal mate of mine! It’s not like she talks to many people, I’m sure ;o)
I was watching that race with interest of course since it would have been my race too – though in reality I would have been unaware and unaffected by the changing lead ahead. Jo Lawn raced superbly, and broke her own course record – 9:14. This super fast time meant that although both the first two females had pre-qualified, the female pros in ‘roll down ‘ positions for a Kona slot were ineligible to claim them because of the 5% ruling – their race times were not fast enough! So, of the 3 available slots, none were claimed. Only one of the male slots was taken, too. It will be interesting to see how the year of racing pans out for the Pros, and what Kona will be like assuming this pattern is reflected in all races. It could be a very small field of Pros, but I suppose a better quality one.
Well, its all over and we are now about to start our rather drawn out journey back to the UK. After a final long ride – from Wellington to Taupo - on my Orbea, I handed her over to a new owner on Friday. I hope he enjoys riding her as much as I did – and that he is ale to keep her in the manner to which she is accustomed – about 500km a week, of late! I was a little sad to see Obi go, but treating myself to a good look over of the Quntana Roo’s expo stall and demonstration model of the CD01 that awaits me at home softened the blow. As will the pleasure of a bike-free journey home and the several hundred pounds that we wont have to give to Quantas for the excess weight off luggage!
It’s been a lighter training week – despite the long ride _with a definite air of being on holiday. I think that I needed a bit of a break after a pretty solid month n Christchurch…and its unavoidable really with all the traveling now…but I should be freshened up for another decent 4 week block in the UK. Weather permitting!