A little over 2 weeks ago I travelled from Mooloolaba to the beautiful Pico De Loro resort on the Hamilo Coast in the Philippines for the launch of the new ‘Alaska Team TBB Philippines’ which I’m proud to be part of in 2012. I was already well acquainted with Ali, Matt and of course Caroline but it was great to meet all of the young Pilipino kids who’ll also be making up our new team. We had 4 days at the resort to get to know each other then we travelled to Manilla for the official launch of the team to the Pilipino media and a I have to say a big congratulations here to Alex, Brett, Fred, David and everyone else involved with organising this event because it was a much bigger show than I was expecting.
I stayed the night in Manilla and then flew out to Thailand the following morning for the inaugural Koh Samui triathlon. I had been looking forward to racing Koh Samui for some time but to be honest when I arrived I was really tired from all the travel I’d done the week before. It was warm and humid in the Philippines but when I got off the plane at Koh Samui airport I was shocked at how unbelievably hot and humid it was. Because of my tiredness and the heat I really cut back the amount of training I usually do in the lead up to a race and spent most of the time lying in bed with the aircon on.
The race kicked off at 7:30am and it was already 30 degrees, it wasn’t much of a relief diving into the water for the 4km swim either because the water temp was also 30 degrees. About half way through the swim I was already feeling the heat and I just decided that the race today was going to be about survival. A group of 4 of us left the water with a good gap to the second group. We got out onto the 122km bike course which was two laps of the island and we rode pretty solid for the first lap and our lead over the second pack had blown out and extra few minutes. At this point our group was joined by TBB’s Aaron Farlow. Unfortunately about half way through the second lap of the ride young Australian Ben Allen punctured so it was down to 4. Then with about 10km to go on the bike Aaron Farlow dropped his chain on one of the many steep pinches so it was down to 3.
The last 7 or 8km of the ride was a real struggle for me because I was cramping badly in my abductors which was a bit of a concern because I had a 30km run coming up in the heat of the day. Myself, Faris Al-Sultan and Dirk Bockel entered the second transition together. My legs felt good when I started running but then after about 500m I cramped badly again in the hamstring this time. I had to stand there and stretch for 30 or 40 seconds as Faris and Dirk ran away. The cramp eased eventually and I got into my rhythm. About 5km later I caught Dirk and went past. The run was out and back with a lot of long stretches of road so I could see Faris in the distance up ahead of me the whole way.
Coming into the 15km turn around point I crossed paths with Faris – a world and European ironman champion, I took the turn and 30 seconds later crossed paths with Marino vanhoenacker – the current ironman world record holder, 30 seconds later I crossed paths with Aaron Farlow – 2 time iron distance champion and then 30 seconds later I saw Marcel Zamora – 5 time ironman champion. I was feeling good at the turn and I thought I was in with a chance of the win but I knew I’d have my work cut out for me with the blokes that were around.
At the 18km point I picked up the pace and eventually reeled in Faris after 23km. I got a lead over him straight away and just didn’t look back. I crossed the line in first which I was really happy about firstly because despite this race being in its first year it’s one of the best paying races on the circuit and secondly because my goal now is Kona and this race showed I can handle the heat.
I’m back home at Mooloolaba now preparing for my next race at Ironman Cairns in 5 weeks.
All the best.
Some highlights from Koh Samui