Held in the Riverland region, Murray Man is a great event run by Adelaide Triathlon Club and it is proudly supported by the close-knit community of Barmera.
This year I have raced sparingly and in Olympic distance events. For this event, Alex Price was able to make the trip over. I found it really constructive to have my coach there to see the race unfold. Unpredictable racing and an open course made for a welcome reintroduction to long distance triathlon.
Some swims are really aggressive but this one was very orderly. I found myself nicely positioned soon after the swim got underway. Everyone kept arms and feet to themselves and I made my way through the group as the leaders started to pull away. Rounding the first buoy had me a small distance adrift of the leading trio. Leading the chase isn't an ideal position yet I managed to shake most of my followers and returned to shore in fourth place. A good experience in navigation but it left me over two minutes in arrears.
The change from swim to bike was probably my race highlight. I didn't set the world on fire but it was smooth. The out and back bike course runs along the lake. After losing a significant amount of time to the leaders in the first outward section, the gap stayed at a similar margin. Small groups of two or three athletes formed throughout the ride but everyone maintained legal distances. A constant crosswind aided the fairness of the bike leg. There isn't a lot to say. It was a case of putting my head down and pedalling. Dismounting in fifth, I set out with a six-minute deficit to the leader and four minutes from a podium position. Taking the win would be out of my control but taking back four minutes felt like a more achievable target.
I like out and back courses. I get to see where everyone is. The run in Barmera is a loop. You don't get to see the faces of the athletes ahead. You are lucky if you get to see them at all. It took fifteen kilometres to start making up places. With less than twenty minutes to run, I could see second and third place just ahead of me. The tank was empty. Absolutely dry. I managed to climb my way up to third. Holding onto the final podium spot made the daylong chase worthwhile. The fastest run was mine but I'd be lying if I said I was entirely happy with it. Welcome back to long distance racing, I guess. Now is time to walk away, recover, analyse and plan for the future.