There is a first time for everything. First kiss, first girlfriend, first triathlon… for me, I was hoping for my first 70.3 win on SA soil.
I had done all the work and had arrived healthy and hungry to race in Durban, the inaugural 70.3 for the city and the first chance for eager Ironman athletes to race for a slot to qualify for the 70.3 World Championship to be held in Queensland, Australia 2016.
I was quickly falling in love with the city. The weather was an absolute treat, some of the friendliest people I have ever encountered and the warm sea temperatures had me in awe.
A couple of runs along the promenade, swims in the ocean and a quick spin up and down the glossy surface of the M4 highway… I was ready to go.
The pre race favourites were all there and from what I could tell, were all confident and ready for the big day.
In the pre race build up, I was pretty confident that it would come down to the final run and a fight for the podium. It is always tricky to plan a race, circumstances change and all of a sudden your full proof system is turned on it’s head.
I knew what I needed to do and knew how I would go about it.
I had been working hard at the swim/bike version of the sport as this is where I have been found wanting in some previous challenges.
I discussed the plan with my coach and he gave me pretty clear instruction. Swim strong, ride according to the numbers (my secret) and run comfortable. Seemed simple enough.
The swim went ok, apart from a wonky start and a standoff between myself and a 3m wall of white wash (I lost this battle) but things quickly settled down and I was headed out on the fast, smooth surface of the M4 highway.
I won’t talk too much on watts/numbers, but it’s all I was trying to focus on. The entire ride I was in control and it felt really comfortable. At the turn I had a descent lead, so I just consolidated on this and rode smooth for the ride home, seeing and waving at mates who were headed in the opposite direction.
Arriving into T2 my lead had grown substantially and it was time to soak it up and enjoy the 2 lap, 21km run along the incredibly beautiful Durban promenade.
The course allows plenty opportunity to greet friends, run through cheering supporters and soak up the beautiful ocean views on a perfect day.
For me it was just that.
As I was running, I thought, what a privilege it is to call this work…. and to cap off a superb day, have my wife greet me at the finish for my first win on home soil. I walked down the finish chute, applauded the crowd, high fived spectators and tried to absorb all the incredible energy, crossing the line to win the inaugural 70.3 Durban feeling very proud.
Amazing effort by the Ironman SA crew of Paul Wolff and Keith Bowler. The event is an absolute world class spectacle and I share the sentiments of the some 3000 athletes, a job very well done.
My next stop, 70.3 World Championship, Zell-am-See, Austria on 30th August.
Photo credit: Kierran Allen Photography / IRONMAN