Tim Berkel – IRONMAN Cairns Race Report
14 June 2013
About a month ago, I had a rethink of my season, and made some mid-season alterations to my calendar, and my focus for the remainder of 2013. Rather than bore you with the details of the next six months, I’ll try to cover these races as they happen.
Several weeks ago I began my preparation to do an Olympic distance race (i.e. Port Douglas 5150) on one weekend, then back it up the following weekend with the Cairns Ironman 70.3. The reason I decided to do these races is that it had been such a long time between races and also coming off a chest infection, I just wanted to see where I was at in terms of fitness. The 5150 was mainly a hit-out event, and I was preparing myself to have a good crack at the Ironman 70.3.
So the 5150 race was great, I felt good and enjoyed it, I got a 6th place there, which was what I expected for the field of athletes, and my ability in short course racing. I spent the week in Port Douglas (about an hour drive north of Cairns, Queensland) training with Clayton “Clayto” Fettel and Joey Lampe. I had recovered so well and was feeling on top of my game. Clayto was racing the full Ironman, while Joey and I had booked our start for the Ironman 70.3, which was being held simultaneously with the full distance event in Cairns.
Then, in a moment of sheer stupidity, the thought came into my mind to give the Ironman a crack. With no proper Ironman-build in my training, and only six days from race start, I tossed out the idea to my Team. Weirdly enough, I got the support of my coach, manager, and wife, which mutually supported the idea, and with less than six days to go, I got the go ahead to do Ironman Cairns. My preparation for this race was not what I usually do, as it was all about the 70.3 distance, so it was to be interesting to see how the body would hold up.
Race morning/wife’s birthday, I was lucky enough to see a nice clear ocean , which I was told was infested with Croc’s (the reptile, not the fluorescent foam shoes) and only a little whisper of breeze. My swim was pretty crappy and I came out further back than I normally do due to missing two weeks of swimming (as I had a chest infection leading into this race). So after a quick transition I was onto the bike and looking forward to a scenic ride up the coastline and seeing the gorgeous tropical North Queensland …I wish!!!
It was “balls to the wall” to play catch up to just get back onto the main pack of riders I was expecting to come out of the water with. So I caught New Zealand ‘s Cam Brown, Matty White and Todd Israel around 15km mark. Knowing that Luke McKenzie, Clayto, and Chris “Macca” McCormack weren’t in that group, I knew I had caught onto the group riding in equal forth.
Another 15km up the road we caught Macca. Feeling quite good, I was driving the group up into Port Douglas. Macca took a turn up front and I was sitting second with Cam, Matty and Todd still intact. We approached a bit of a tight spot on the road, and we naturally bunched up, and there was a Technical Official sitting off the back of our group. He rode up to me and issued me a drafting penalty. It was a silly mistake, where I wasn’t able to drop back quick enough in a technical section of the course. He might not have had the best angle to see it, but he made the call, and I had to cop it.
It was a little disappointing as I felt I had been off the front of my group for most of the ride and this happens in such a silly spot. So I then decided to surge forward and haul a$$ up the road as I had to get into the penalty box, knowing I didn’t want to lose the ground I made to even catch these boys in the first place. Plus I knew I still had Luke and Clayto out front, which is a scary combination, as they both are strong cyclist. In my angered state, I was able to gain around 2 mins by the time I jumped into the penalty box (…with a gorgeous view might I add).
When I saw the boys go past, I might have uttered a few choice words, and I apologize to the Technical Officials which were staffing the Penalty Box. My emotions may have gotten the best of me in that situation, but I had already worked so hard after a poor swim, to have to claw myself back again. After my penalty was served, I was out of the box on a mission. I caught the boys back at around the 130km mark.
On the ride back into T2 us boys were having a little friendly banter when Matty White decides to pull a turn… Coming past me, he says “I’m a #@%ing cheat”. LOL. Makes the ride a lot more enjoyable when you have good guys out there, keeping you motivated, and talking a bit of smack.
Back into the transition I was told a few splits and McKenzie was 21:58 up the road. Geeeeezzzz, I thought to myself – I’ve got a bit of work, and it was going to have to happen quick smart. So Macca and I ran together for a bit, before he took off. I let him go, but soon caught back up to him. Macca didn’t seem his usual self, which was understandable due to him being in hospital at the start of the week with a Kidney infection.
We ran together for around 4km and Macca was feeling worse, poor guy. I then dropped Macca and whilst running I saw McKenzie on the way back from the Yorky’s Nob loop, and it was pretty clear to me he had a massive lead. I thought to myself the only way I was going to make time up was to run hard into the head wind.
I overtook Clayto which put me in second place. I kept getting splits from the awesome spectators lining the course. It’s a long run into town, then multiple loops along the foreshore, so the end of the race is full of spectators. I was consistently reducing the 21:58 deficit that Luke built on his Swim/Bike combination.
I ended up crossing the line in second, and was only 4:38 back, taking over 17 minutes of Luke’s lead at T2. I ran a 2:44:24 marathon which was over 10 minutes faster than the second fastest Marathon of the day. I guess looking back now the results it could have been a little different if I didn’t get my drafting penalty. As I could take 4 minutes off my time, and possibly fresher legs at not having to play catch up twice during the bike leg. But all-in-all, I can’t complain and I have lived and learned from my mistakes …until next race!
Well done to Luke McKenzie on a champion effort. Also, I take my visor off to Macca – legend, and tough as nails!
So for me now the game plan is a few easy days then back into it as I head back to the states for a couple of races in a few weeks.
Thanks again to my wife-Bel, family and supporters, my Manager (Mike), the doggies. Sponsors; Scody, Giant, Newton Running, Daikin Air Conditioners, Endura, Shimano, Oakley, Garmin, Blue Seventy, Altitude Training Systems, Continental Tyres, Hypnotic Zoo, Scicon.
Special mention to my Coach-Grant Giles. Thanks for always believing in me and pushing me to succeed when I thought I possibly couldn’t. He is a great mentor, friend, and supporter and the number one coach. Go Team Aeromax!!!