It is cold, dark, and, rainy here in Adelaide. Every day. Sitting next to the heater, wrapped up like Michelin Man, I find myself dreaming of Yeppoon. As an ambassador for the Yeppoon Triathlon Festival (YTF) I was able to spend five days in the town. For this South Australian resident, it was like a tropical paradise. Scratch that, it is a tropical paradise.
The YTF launched into full swing on Saturday morning. As ambassador, I was keen to be involved in all of the events. This involved a hotly contested open water race, helping at the kids aquathlon, and participating in the fun run. It becomes a pretty big day once you throw in bike check-in, food preparation, catching up with some local athletes, and speaking at the pasta party. I relished the opportunity to do all of these and thoroughly enjoyed the events. It also kept my mind active and in the present. Too often the day prior to racing is filled with thoughts about the event itself. I found the kids aquathlon particularly rewarding. Trying to make a career out of the sport brings financial realities into the picture and it was great to have the kids remind me why I do the sport. I love it. Plain and simple. Being able to speak at the pasta party was a close second. Speaking alongside race director Glenn Skinner, Rio bound paratriathletes Katie Kelly, and Kate Doughty, was quite a privilege.
The YTF's relaxed, holiday vibe wasn't lost on race day. A late start allowed plenty of time for one to wake up naturally, organise race equipment, warm up, and complete the daily crossword. Conditions remained windy creating a proper surf swim. My track record in this type of swim situation isn't the best, I had to trust in my preparation. Unfortunately, history prevailed. I have no excuses for this. One's ability in the surf isn't genetically pre-determined. I just need to practice in similar conditions more often. My navigational prowess was reminiscent of Dory from "Finding Nemo". I exited the water some way further down the order than I'd expected. With top swimmer Clayton Fettell in the field, I knew the race for first would already be taking place in the next suburb.
I hit the bike with time to make up on a number of athletes. Rather than feeling beaten the race was well and truly alive. Struggling to find my rhythm, I started to feel disheartened. Negative thoughts started creeping in. Thankfully, an underlying belief in the training I'd done allowed me to regain composure, refocus, and execute the ride I was capable of. Improving throughout the bike leg meant that I dismounted in second.
Early on in the run I confirmed that Fettell had opened up an almost insurmountable gap. I took the opportunity to enjoy the run and the challenge it provided. The atmosphere was great and it was hard not to feel uplifted every time I passed through town. I closed out the day with the fastest run and finished a credible second behind Fettell. He was a class act all day and took home a deserved win. One presentation ceremony and a giant novelty cheque later, the YTF drew to a close.
Despite the laidback nature of the festival, the weekend ran like clockwork. A level of precision I have not seen executed at many other races. The whole event lent itself to the spectator. The bike course came back into town twelve times with another eight visits on the run course.
I am truly honoured and grateful to have had the opportunity to be an ambassador for the YTF. I've dearly missed racing and this also allowed for a mid-winter form finder. I was also able to see some real results from the specific training I have been doing with AP10. Hopefully I'll be able to build on this performance and the confidence I take away as the year progresses.