Third time racing at the Bastion (Ironman distance) triathlon and third time on the third step of the podium. This year I finished with a slower time than previous years due to lack of bike fitness, but on a tough day it was enough to retain my place on the podium.
I normally take a while to get going on the swim, but this year I managed to get straight into my stroke from the gun and enjoyed the swim far more than I usually do. A couple of swim specialists in relay teams took an early lead along with the eventual winner Robert Fryer. By midway through the first of two swim laps I’d taken the lead of the main pack and started to pull away, finding myself out on my own. I held my position and, despite a late charge from female winner Lucy Biddlestone, I made it out of the water in a very surprising second place.
Onto the bike I could feel early on that my bike fitness wasn’t what it has been in previous years. I held onto second place for about 30km until Steve Berry came flying past. Last year Steve passed me much later in the race so I knew my chances of catching him later on in the run would be slim, but I felt he was putting a fair effort into the bike and decided to just let him go and stick to a comfortable effort in the hope of having something in the tank to catch him on the run. At the turn on lap 2 (90km) I calculated he had 8 minutes on me so I thought that would probably become at least 20 minutes by T2. It was really tough conditions on the bike this year with some nasty wind and rain and I certainly suffered more than usual on what is always an exceptionally tough course.
Onto the run and I soon got into a steady pace, but I knew Steve was well ahead (race leader Robert had been very much out of sight and out of mind from the very start). My run felt very much like previous years and I was right on target in terms of my usual run pace on this tough course. At the end of the second 10.5k lap I heard someone shout out that Steve had pulled out and I was now running in second place. I had no idea what was happening behind but I was soon to find out. About a minute after moving up into second place I was passed by a fast running Andrew Cox. It was a decisive pass and I didn’t even attempt to stay with him. The next 20km was a case of looking over my shoulder hoping nobody else would pass me. I was surprised at the end of lap three to learn Andrew had only opened up four minutes on me, but there was no catching him and I pushed on for my third third at the Bastion. Disappointing in terms of time but proud to be on the podium again.
A fantastic race as ever with the best goodie bag, great support and the most friendly and supportive race crew ever. I’m already signed up for next year.