Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mission Accomplished:)

Following up from my last Blog, I achieved what I set out to do at the Tauranga Half by going sub 4hrs for the first time. In fact my final time was 3.56 so I managed to take a shade under 10 mins of my last time for the race so naturally I'm elated. Oh yeah, did I mention I won? To repeat what my bike sponsor said when I texted him to let him know, "you're sh%$ing me?!!" To be honest I'm a bit lost for words as I think it's going to take a few days to sink, in but yes I am the NZ Long Distance Triathlon Champion! The day was full of drama for many, I will run through things as I saw them play out....

Race start was 6.30am, this means for most being in transition by 5.30am. Not an easy task to wake a sleeping baby at 4.30am, get her ready, have breakfast and get to the event on the other side of town but we managed. I had a good spin on the wind trainer and a 15 min warm up swim so was amping to go when the gun went. My plan was to mark Jaime Whyte and James Bowstead in the water as I knew they would ride hard all day. This went off without a hitch, I had to work hard on the downward leg of the 2nd lap but the rest of the swim was pretty cruisy. That was until we caught the slower age group swimmers completing their 1st lap. There was heaps of them, making sighting the people I was trying to swim with very difficult. It broke our pack up and we had to swim over quite a few. My apologies to any I bashed on my way through! It was our only option though as missing the train on the bike is not an option; riding solo is far harder than the combined energy of a group, even with no drafting. James had got up the road a bit from us so Jaime, Bevan McKinnon and I took to chasing him down before focusing on catching Cameron Brown, Kieran Doe and Steven Sheldrake. By the turn at the far end of the course we had caught them, pushing over 400 watts at times to make up the ground. Sheldrake punctured just before we caught him. He can't have had a spare as he didn't finish. I was feeling pretty comfortable but there was the odd surge that forced me to crank things up to stay in touch. Most of us were keeping to the drafting rules and riding clean but there was one in particular that was sucking a bit of wheel and looking around a lot. Cameron and Kieran both gave him a serve at different times. I said nothing but I think in future I will say something as it's not something I feel has a place in the sport. Apart from the first outward leg of the ride we had no draft busters with us at all, only press photographers and camera crews. That seems strange to me as we are the ones competing for the $$ so surely more focus should be placed on keep our race free of drafting?
We hauled in Kieran at the end of the 2nd lap before Jaime and James broke clear to try to put time into us. I was tempted to go with them but thought better of it. We could have gone with them but we were already averaging over 42kph so I felt that the extra effort they were expending would likely cost them on the run. Not long after Cameron pulled off with a flat tyre. Rotten luck for him as it was clear it was coming down to a running race and he would have easily been odds on to win that. I went to the front for the return leg to minimise the time lost to Jaime and James and entered transition 3rd. Kieran out transitioned me and quickly caught James. I eased into the run and before long found myself catching them both. Half way to the turnaround I caught them. They heard me coming up and Kieran turned and gave me a look of "what the...?? I ran through them and set my sights on Jaime. I caught him before the base of the Mt and took the lead as he stopped for a drink. This was unreal, I'm leading the Mt Half Ironman!! What a buzz, it was awesome for about 5 mins until my stomach started doing somersaults and I was forced to take a "pit stop" to relieve the pressure. Paula Radcliffe would have been proud of my effort, made all the more complicated by wearing a one piece! Thankfully I had a track clear of witnesses and was back into it without Jaime catching me. Running on this track is horrible for me, I lose all momentum and running and breathing rhythm. Back on to the flat stuff I felt heaps better (and lighter ;) ) and found my rhythm again. My family were all there along with many Taupo friends yelling at me to keep hauling ass. Along the water front I got heaps of support and by this stage people were telling me I had it in the bag. I don't thing they quite remembered Cam Brown's run last year making up 7 mins of Kieran's 8 min lead and it was still a threat that he may do the same and more this year by catching me. He was flying, his technique and form is so efficient and he clearly had all intentions of giving everything to try to catch me. I was confident no one else would come up but had to make sure I did enough to hold him off. Onto the base track and I ran it a little better than the first lap, it was still a real battle but once I got back to the Mall and could see the finish I knew I had it in the bag. I enjoyed this stretch making sure to high five all my family and supporters and even do a little dance! I was well under my goal time and wanted to have some fun. Crossing the line was awesome, a real buzz and wonderful to win my first Tauranga Half and 2nd Half Ironman Title (after Auckland 1/2 IM 2008). I had a few interviews and pics with Cameron and then was whisked off to my first drug test which was an interesting experience!

All in all it was a great day, I had my fair share of luck and my condolences go out to Cameron as his misfortune clearly benefited me. That's the way it goes though, 3 weeks ago I had my tough luck story with a mechanical at the Taupo Half resulting in me pulling out. Regardless of my position I have definitely developed into a better athlete this year and I can't wait to get back into things to get ready for the NZIM in March.
Another positive for me from the day was to see how strong our sport is becoming at the top level especially in the men's field. Jaime Whyte, James and Mark Bowstead, Blair Jordan, Andrew MacKay, Paul Westwood, Liam Scopes just to name a few are all class athletes still developing. It's great to be a part of a group that are all intense competitors but without egos to get in the way of friendly competition.
On another note, my coach Mark Watson has invited me to a Training Camp with Cameron at Whangamata in a couple of weeks, that will be a fantastic learning experience training with the world's most consistent Ironman performer and a chance to push myself further and find new limits. Mark has opened many doors for me since taking me on after the Auckland Half last year. His passion for the sport is infectious and his approach of doing the hard yards and pushing the limits is one that constantly motivates and enthuses. My sincere thanks to Mark for all he has done to help me over the past year.
Thanks also to all my family, friends, sponsors, partners and general supporters for your ongoing support and belief in me. It is very satisfying to be able to pay you all back in some way though this performance and I look forward to securing a similar result in March :)

Cheers....... Dunc.


  1. You are an animal Dunc, I was freaking out when I saw you in 2nd spot there coming down Marine Parade. I tipped you to come 2nd next to Cam, wicked, hey them's the breaks and everyone will forget he had a puncture but you'll always be the winner!!
    So who was the drafter...? Go on tell, can I guess??
    There really is a great bunch racing in NZ at the moment, as you say no ego's just hard ass racing... love it!

  2. Congratulations my big bro! We are really proud of you and full credit to you for your awesome win! NZ long distance Tri Champ aye!!! Wicked! Ka Pai!!! Love from us all here on Waiheke.
    Maia says yahoo God Daddy Dunc xxx

  3. Well done Dunc.

    You owned that race and deserve the win. Many athletes in the past have given up to Cam around the Mt track 2nd lap, but you have proven you aren't that easy to crush.

    Bring on IM!!