A tale of survival from Western Sydney, by Steve Williams
A very small contingent of SBTC-ers descended on Penrith in the western suburbs of Sydney to compete in the Western Sydney 70.3, held on 29th November 2015. Myself, Kim Wordsworth and my non-SBTC friend and long course training partner Lisa Harding set off on a 4-day road-trip to take in the countryside along the inland route from Brisbane to Penrith, including the obligatory photo opportunity in front of the Golden Guitar in Tamworth. Also making the journey to Sydney and competing for SBTC was Jason Nooning.
Weather predictions during the week ranged from hot to mild to wet with north-south-east-westerly winds at anything from 20-45kmh. In other words, no-one had a clue.
We stopped into the Sydney International Regatta Centre (aka the venue) on Friday evening to register and check out the venue. First impressions were pretty good. Plenty of parking close by, central transition area and great facilities.
Saturday was a quiet day of racking the bikes and driving the bike course.
We awoke to an overcast drizzly morning and set off to the venue with hopes that the clouds would stay and the rain would disappear. Most importantly, there was no wind – at all !! Perfect conditions.
The non-wetsuit swim was a deep water start in the Olympic rowing lake. Following the lane ropes kept us all (mostly) swimming straight lines, however at 2.14km (how can they get that wrong?) it was a tough swim for my shoulder and I did a tough 43:46 min swim time coming in 71st out of 121 in my age group. The first lap (of 2) on the bike course was on wet roads, however for the most part, the roads were in good condition with some patches that would provide the locals with ample supplies of lost biddons, gels, nutrition and tooth fillings! Some tight turns provided a few challenges, and several competitors were sporting cuts and grazes from over-doing it. Wind was still negligible and, although riding my roadie (still can’t ride the TT) I managed a 34.2kmh average and improved my position to 55th by T2. This was where the real race was….
Kim, Lisa and I had a race within a race for T2, with the slowest time buying the drinks. I managed an impressive 42 second T2 split, which was only bettered by 2 of the Pro’s !! I am happy to pass on my Transition secrets in exchange for coffee, beer, wine etc etc.
The 2.5 lap flat run course around the rowing lake allowed us to hear the finish-line commentary from every point on the course. The cloud cover was starting to break up and suddenly our perfect conditions became searingly hot and steamy. With the assistance of my best friends Nurophen, Codeine and Paracetamol, I managed to complete the run in 1:49 hrs for a total time of 5:13.37 and in 39th place of 121.
Kim had a solid swim of 45:30, and tackled the bike course on her impressive new Cervelo P2 at 30.57 km/h. With the latest start time of all of us, she had the hottest conditions on the run, but still pulled out a great time of 5:54.35 and 26th place of 43 competitors.
Jason pulled out a great swim time of 38:28 and smashed the bike in 2:31.25 at 35.66km/h before running in the heat and humidity, finishing in a total time of 5:27.28 and 72nd place of 136.
My friend Lise Harding, a multi-Ironman and Kona Qualifier, completed in 5:30.04 in 2nd place (after a stunning 35.25 km/h avg. bike) and qualified for the 2016 70.3 Worlds in Mooloolaba, despite suffering from chronic gastro stomach upset late in the race from swallowing water in the swim – Do not drink the water !!
In summary, the venue is first-class. The bike course has its moments but is fairly flat and fast. The weather can be extremely hot this time of year, but was very kind to us on the day, however the temp exceeded 40 degrees the next day.
Thanks to Kim and Lisa for being great travel buddies. All in all, a great weekend away