THE T:ZERO BLOG
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It was an incredible weekend of racing at this year’s Sunshine Coast IRONMAN 70.3. A picturesque morning greeted the athletes with the Mooloolaba Bay offering flatter swim conditions than your local swimming pool. We saw two Kiwi professional athletes take the line honours with hundreds of athletes following them with their own awesome story to tell!
Head Coach Richard Thompson has been heavily involved with IRONMAN racing for almost two decades! Here, he shares his hot takes from the SC70.3 in 2019…
1. 70.3 World Championships close by means stronger competition
When it was announced last October that Taupo in New Zealand would play host to the 2020 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships, hundreds of athletes in the southern hemisphere collectively gave a quiet fist pump and put that at the top of their list of goals. While every year the 70.3 worlds travels across the globe, it does not yet have the history or prestige as Kona does whereby athletes will want to race at that event regardless of the location. So it is common sense that when it comes close to Australia, you go all in to the process to try and qualify.
Sunshine Coast 70.3 was the regions first qualifying race for the 2020 70.3 World Championships and the age groupers knew it. With a combination of a a large contingent of experienced athletes racing, together with everyone's eagerness to get that coveted world champs slot, there was little room to move at the roll down ceremony for all those wanting to head to the North Island of New Zealand in November 2020.
We are proud to see that three of the T:Zero family accepted their spots on the weekend to race at the 2020 70.3 World Championships, a number that will no doubt grow as the next nine months ensues. But, knowing how competitive this Country is in triathlon, don’t expect a spot at the worlds to magically land in your lap. Train with purpose, believe and give yourself every opportunity to reach that goal.
2. A team is stronger than a group of individuals
It was amazing to see over 30 athletes representing T:Zero over the weekend. The athletes, together with the nine of our 12 coaches came together on Saturday morning to share a coffee and a local café, have a chat, take home some awesome products from our supporters (Ener-C and Zen Spray) and generally be motivated to perform when the sun came up the next day.
The overall feeling within the team was just incredible. And the old adage that a team is greater than the sum of its parts was no truer than what was shown on the weekend. Although we are a worldwide coaching group, and although the athletes live all over, the sense of community and belonging was really evident on Saturday and particularly Sunday with everyone encouraging each other to push their limits and live their potential. It also helps that everyone was decked out in some epic new T:Zero pink socks!
3. The role of weather for athletes and spectators
Weather. It is a fickle beast. As a coach on the side lines, it was magic on Sunday. A little breezy but the sun was out and it was a beautiful temperature. It all in all made for a great morning on the side line (compare this to the torrential conditions 12 months prior).
For the athletes, however, the conditions play a much more specific role. The perfect swim conditions lent itself to very fast swim times - example being that the lead swimmers came out in 22mins. The course was true in terms of distance, so it was nice to see that for once, mother nature took it easy for the athletes in the swim (we just need her to come back in June up in Cairns, for once).
The wind on the bike, however, proved to be strong. While not devastatingly difficult or dangerous, it was just enough to make the second lap of the bike a fair bit slower back into the side and head winds. On a global scale, this meant slower bike times for everyone– from the pros to the weekend warriors. So while you may have trained your backside off over the winter, the bike split may not be as impressive as you would have liked. Tip your hat, or your aero helmet as the case may be, to the winds for that. Then the run came and went, the winds weren’t as strong at the beach as they were out on the motorway, and with the temperature being fairly mild to slightly warm – it was near perfect run conditions.
So what I am getting at here? Don't be disheartened if your overall times are a little off. The conditions (and therefore the speed) of the bike is always the biggest contributing factor to the ebbs and flows of your overall time.
Nonetheless, I feel that the conditions on Sunday were incredible for athlete and spectator a like.
4. Drafting is always a problem, but what is the solution?
Ah drafting. It doesn’t go away. When I started racing 70.3s back in 2003 (where you had to qualify for Ironman Australia through a half ironman like you would for Kona), there would only be 600-800 athletes racing at once. We would go off as age groups, over the course of a 60-90mins and there just didn’t seem to be any drafting issues on the road.
Coach Scotty was up on the Maroochy Bridge and witnessed the congestion first hand. I feel for the athletes out there. I assume 99% of them want the ability to race their own race at a true 12m. Unfortunately, with only 22km of road in one direction and dealing with 1500+ athletes racing, the inevitable will happen. Again, not the athletes’ fault at all.
So the question has to be asked, what is Ironman doing about this? Is the answer a one loop bike, less athletes, a larger window of start times, more marshals? I don’t know, and I don’t envy the position that they are in, but it is a problem Ironman have brought on themselves. I just hope that there is much of a desire to fix it from the powers that be, as there is in the age group peloton.
5. Glorious PBs for those who believe
I read a blog article by a coach this week that basically said that qualifying for Kona is simply out of some peoples reach. I found this confronting given my background and how much I believe the human body can evolve over time to become much more efficient and faster.
I truly believe anyone can qualify for Kona, if that is something they want, and the drive is there. No matter of their ability, if the “why” is strong enough, the how will take care of itself. It becomes a question of 'when' not 'if'.
We had some incredible Personal Best performances on the weekend (despite the slower bike times aforementioned). A particular mention to one athlete who put down a near sub 5 hour performance representing a 45mins PB! This athlete is extremely dedicated to the cause, focusing on the weekly improvements, the daily grind, the 1%ers. They are incredibly focused and determined to see themselves improve as an athlete, as a person. It was so amazing to see them in their element on Sunday.
So, wherever you are on the journey of this amazing sport, don’t put yourself in a box or define yourself. You are far more powerful than you ever can imagine. Remove the doubt, distance yourself from people who doubt the journey and take it day by day.
Thank you Sunshine Coast for putting on a wonderful treat for us on the weekend...until next year.
An amazing collection of training and racing advice from the T:Zero Multisport coaches- with the occasional guest blogger! Read this blog to help you live your potential!