November 2016 – ITU World Cross Tri Championships – Thredbo, Australia.
If you had asked me one year ago how the 2016 season was going to go, I would have been optimistic and excited – but finishing up with two top 10 Professional World Championship results (8th Xterra, 6th ITU), Xterra Asia Pacific Champion, and the Asian Tour Crown is more dream turned reality stuff. The ITU World Cross Tri Championships was such a great event, and a fantastic way to wrap up the year of racing.
Thredbo is the highest place in Australia, so I wanted to go a week early and try to acclimatise to the altitude as we did in Utah. Unfortunately the weather was not on my side and the first few days were spend inside or at the pool – too much hail ! It was questionable whether we would even be having a swim in the race – there are all sorts of rules regarding water and air temperature and this was a small lake fed by ice melt. Luckily, in the days leading into the race weekend the sun came out and we were able to pre-ride and run, even got a bit burnt ! The water was warming every day, leading to ‘wetsuit optional’ business.
Like many of the athletes, I found myself quite breathless during the swim, whether that was the altitude or temperature I was pleased to get onto my bike. The course was a 2 lap ride, mostly flowing twisty single track with some obstacles and tricky rock sections. Really enjoyable and challenging to go as fast as possible while staying relaxed. I came into T2 in 10th place with a bit in the legs. The run lap (3x) was technical with steep drop offs, rock clambering, river crossings, swing bridge, tunnels… the list goes on. I had left just enough to get me through and zoom into 6th place by the finish line. There were so many Kiwis it was awesome to have so much support and cheering during the race. I also lead out the New Zealand Mixed Relay team early the next day. This was a new format for ITU Cross Tri and was keenly contested. We managed to podium with 2nd – a highlight of the weekend.
I’m loving the sport more than ever, and it’s not just from satisfaction of performance but from real integration into the community and enjoying the company of amazing athletes from around the world. You would not find a more competitive yet supportive bunch anywhere. Got some big plans for next year, so looking forward to the challenging times ahead and creating more great memories – roll on 2017.