Having raced in the Dubai 70.3 last year i was super excited to race it again this year to see how i would compare! This race is such a special race with an amazing atmosphere and build up to the race that i just had to come back and race again.
I flew out with Evan a week earlier so that we were acclimatized (Something that i didn’t do in Bahrain!) and were ready for the race. I had already qualified for the world champs 70.3 in South Africa this year so the pressure was on for Evan to get his slot. With there only being one slot in his AG (60-64) it was going to be a tight race! I wanted to perform better than i did last year and see if i could sneak onto the podium. I know that this race is extremely competitive as it is mid-season for the Dubai team and with the winner last year in my AG racing a 4:06 and winning the amateur overall i knew that 2nd onwards would be best.
The plan: SWIM
I had a poor swim last year and wanted to perform better this time and i also wanted to try and start early and swim as good can and try and get out early and avoid the traffic on the bike. I was wearing my sleeveless Huub wetsuit and was confident after my 27min swim in Bahrain that id be under 30mins.
The Plan: BIKE
Having biked a 2:14 last year and 40km/hr i knew that id have to push to beat this and the wind would have to be on my side. I got stuck in a little traffic last year and really wanted to avoid this as there are just minutes in my AG that separates us. I rode with Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa for the majority of the bike last year and got some good TV coverage so was hoping for the same this year. I’m a better swimmer than him so usually pass him on the swim only for him to catch me on the bike at some point. I averaged 240Watts last year so was aiming for a little higher this time. My best race power has been 273Watts so anyhwere near there would be a fast time.
The Plan: RUN
As i am training for the MARATHON DES SABLES i have been running better than I have all year so was hopeful that i might get under the 1:30 mark… hopefully… i know that it would depend on the heat and how hard i pushed on the run..
The Reality: SWIM
I managed to get to the front of my pen and was early into the water and the swim out of the harbor was fast and furious with Ben (Royal Air Force Tri) nearly knocking me for 6 as he passed! (Thanks, Ben… i owe you one! 😉 ) Put my goggles back on and then make the left turn out into the sea. The water didn’t look particularly rough but with the direction of the wind it made the sea choppy and the markers were impossible to see without stopping. My initial splits were 1:09/100m, 1:23, 1:27, 1:25 and then out into the sea! 1:38, 1:42, 1:48/100m. I set my lap counter for every 100m so i know roughly how far i am along the course as i feel the buzz on my arm, but all along i was thinking “Man this is tough” and id be happy with a sub 30mins for sure!
Heading back to the shoreline was back into the sun and difficult but the waves were behind me and my pace started to pick back up to its normal race pace and before i knew it i was out! 29:52 was my official time so i has just scrapped the 30min. I was actually happy with that as i was thinking that it would be more like 31-32 mins with how difficult it was out in the sea.
The transition was fast as my sleeveless suit comes off really easy and my bike is next to the exit as im AWA Gold.
The Reality: Bike
I felt good when i jumped on the bike and started to put some power down. i usually know within 5 mins what sort of race im going to have at this point so was glad that i felt ok. I did the normal thing of whizzing past all the ubber swimmers who are not so good on the bike and soon settled in. After about 20km i spotted the blacked out Range Rovers to my right that always follows Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa so i know he had caught me! That’s last year in Dubai, Bahrain and again now! dam he’s a good rider!! Anyway, this time i was determined to stay with him until the end of the bike as last year i only made it to halfway and the same in Bahrain.
I think i was rining in the second lead group with the other group about 4 mins up the road. We had bunched into a group of about 8 riders and were all trying to keep it sensible. The referee was doing a brilliant job of making sure that riders kept their distance as it was so compact. The ref could easily of issued a few cards at times when the group bunched up passing the roundabouts and flyovers but to his credit, he played it very well and was the best ref i have seen to date. I was sat at the back of the group as i wanted to avoid any chance of getting carded but the downside was the to stay on the group i needed to push over 400Watts at times as the group kept splitting. This took its toll on my and with 18km to go i lost contact with them and had to ride solo back to transition.
Office ride time was 2hrs 11 which was a few minutes improvement on last year, but it was a shame not to stay with the group and go under 2hrs 10! NP was 246Watts which wasn’t big for me so i knew that id be ok for the run.
The Reality: RUN
So i was secretly hoping for the elusive sub 1:30 run and that the MDS training that i had done would mean a strong finish. My initial splits were 4:10/km, 4:15/km, 4:16/km, 4:18/km, 4:15/km and it all felt comfortable and at this point, i was getting excited that this would be it! Im not really sure if i noticed my run splits slipping slightly but they did and i was down to 4:30/km ish… I didn’t feel terrible i just was just trying to hold a pace and make sure that i didn’t get passed. I think a few people passed me and two women for sure passed me!
At the 14km mark i was told that i was 3rd with a couple of minute lead so i thought just keep my speed and you’re there! First podium! Little did i know that the Ironman tracking system was having its usual problems and i was in fact 6th! (thanks Ironman!) Apparently when i passed the line i was still in 3rd and even 4th had come in and then sometime later 3 other racers who had not shown up on the APP all day just appeared… dam annoying!
Anyway, i was happy that i ran better than last year with a time of 1hr 32 and 6th place overall.
Finish time of 4:20 and 6th place in the most competitive AG (The AG winner raced a 4hr 01min! with a 1hr 18min run!) Im happy with. Id a love to of been on the podium with Evan who went on to win his AG and secure his slot to South Africa!!